English statements and questions can come in a wide variety of formats. However, when you break sentences down to their most basic form, there are only four standard sentence types in the entire language! In today’s guide, we are going to define each type of sentence and provide examples to help you expand your English knowledge!
What Are the 4 Types of Sentences in English?
While the breadth of the English language allows for virtually endless ways to express yourself, there are just four sentence types that you need to remember:
Sentence Type 1 — Declarative Sentence
The declarative sentence is the most common sentence type in the English language. Why? Because it is the simplest way to express information. By definition, a declarative sentence makes a statement, offers an opinion, declares a fact, or provides an explanation. This means that the vast majority of statements (not questions) in English are declarative sentences. Let’s look at a few examples:
Make a Statement
A “statement” can refer to any sentence that is not a question. Thus, “making a statement” is a rather broad action. Nonetheless, a statement is usually composed of one or more observations. For example:
- I went to the park to find my dog.
- The newspaper article is about the current economic crisis.
- Nobody knows why the man disappeared.
- They go fishing every Saturday.
Offer an Opinion
An opinion states what you think about someone or something. Therefore, most declarative statements with opinions start with “I think” or “in my opinion.” For example:
- I think you should drink some water.
- In my opinion, Lebron James is the greatest basketball player of all time.
- I don’t think the television show is exciting.
- I think cheesecake is overrated.
Declare a Fact
Though similar to a standard statement, the declaration of a fact usually requires you to state something that is universally true. In other words, you can make a sentence stating an objective fact that most (or all) people would agree on. For example:
- The sky is blue.
- Earth is the third planet from the sun.
- Summer comes after Spring.
- Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google in 1998.
Provide an Explanation
Finally, declarative sentences give you the power to explain an action, event, or characteristic. This sentence type can often be combined with other types of declarative sentences to provide more context. For example:
- I got a concussion because I fell and hit my head on the stove.
- The home team won thanks to their star power forward.
- The party was great until the neighbors complained about the noise.
- He is going to bed early because he has a big test tomorrow.
Sentence Type 2 — Imperative Sentence
Though less common than the declarative sentence, the imperative sentence is useful because it allows you to issue a command. An imperative sentence is defined as a statement that makes a demand or request, offers advice, extends an invitation, or provides instructions. Here are a few examples:
Make a Demand or Request
When making a demand or request, you should be careful not to sound rude. It’s usually best to add “please” to the beginning or end of this sentence type to make it sound friendlier. For example:
- Take these dirty clothes to the laundromat.
- Bring me my slippers, please.
- Turn off the TV.
- Please be careful with my snowglobe.
When offering advice, an imperative sentence can sound similar to a declarative sentence. However, an imperative sentence is stronger because it usually begins with a verb. In other words, you are not just offering your opinion, you are giving advice and requesting that the listener actually follow it. For example:
- Don’t forget to study for your final exam.
- Stop smoking if you want your health to improve.
- Take the shortcut to save time.
- Listen to your teacher so you know what to do.
Extend an Invitation
Imperative sentences allow you to extend an invitation, often with a greater sense of urgency or immediacy. These are usually informal, yet friendly invitations. For example:
- Come to the movies with us!
- Join us at the park later.
- Come to our house and bring your friends!
- Bring him for a play date with my son tomorrow.
Sentence Type 3 — Interrogative Sentence
The interrogative sentence is one of the easiest sentence types to identify because it is the only one that asks a question. Therefore, if you see a question mark at the end of a sentence, it’s an interrogative sentence. For example:
- Did you enjoy your meal?
- When will we arrive?
- How do you know where to go?
- Why are we always late?
Sentence Type 4 — Exclamatory Sentence
Finally, the exclamatory sentence is one of the simplest of all four English sentence types. An exclamatory sentence simply makes a statement with emotional emphasis (usually excitement, surprise, or anger). Thus, all exclamatory sentences end with an exclamation point. For example:
- That’s amazing!
- I can’t believe you stole my book!
- This is the best cake I’ve ever tasted!
Sentence Types vs. Sentence Structures
People often use the terms “sentence types’ and “sentence structures” interchangeably. As a result, you may feel a little confused about what they mean. Fortunately, the examples above show you exactly how sentence types function in English.
Alternatively, there are four sentence structures that deal with the kinds of clauses (independent or dependent) in a sentence: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex. To learn more about these variations, be sure to check out our guide on sentence structure!
When you think about the four sentence types in English, it can help make grammar easier. To distinguish between the different sentence types, you just need to look at the structure of the sentence and, at times, the punctuation. If you don’t see an exclamation point or a question mark, you can rule out exclamatory and interrogative sentences. Alternatively, if you don’t see a verb at the start of a sentence, you can be reasonably sure that it’s not an imperative sentence. To check if you’re correct, simply look at the intent of the statement or question. It’s really that easy!
We hope you found our guide on the 4 sentence types in English useful! If you’d like to hear a native English speaker using different sentence types in everyday conversation, be sure to subscribe to the Magoosh Youtube channel or join our Facebook Group today!