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Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
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What Are the Types of Sentences?

What are the types of sentences? There are 4 different types of sentences in the English language. All sentences written and spoken fall into one of these four categories. Being able to use these kinds of sentences allows writers and speakers to effectively communicate their thoughts and emotions to others. The ability to recognize each type allows readers and listeners to accurately interpret others’ words.

The 4 Types of Sentences

How many types of sentences are there? The 4 kinds of sentences are declarative, imperative, interrogative, and exclamatory. Once one understands the purpose of each type, how many types of sentences there are, and how they are formed, identifying and classifying sentences is simple. The purposes of each of these sentences makes the English language what it is. Without these types of sentences, the structure of conversation and written communication would be completely different.

There are four types of sentences that are generally accepted and are categorized by their purpose and punctuation.

 Graphic of four different categories represented by a question mark, exclamation point, gears, and a lightbulb


Declarative sentences are so named because they declare things. They are usually stated in a neutral manner without excessive emotion. These types of sentences are used to state facts, give descriptions, and convey explanations. While these sentences can be used to declare facts, one also uses this type of sentence to state opinions and/or theories, so a declarative sentence does not mean that something is automatically factual. Declarative sentences are the most used in the English language of the 4 kinds of sentences.

For example:

  • The sunset is beautiful tonight.
  • The home team won the baseball game yesterday.
  • I get paid every other Friday.
  • It is too hot out here for a picnic.
  • When it is thundering, my dog hides under the bed.
  • Sandra is reading an interesting book about renewable energy.


Imperative sentences are used to give a command or demand. Often, the subjects of these types of sentences is implied to be the listener rather than stated directly. This implied “you” means that imperative sentences are typically written in second person. Second person point of view is seen as more informal than third person, so for academic or formal writing pieces, imperative sentences should be avoided and declarative sentences used instead. Additionally, these sentences can be confusing at times because the subject of the sentence appears to be missing when it is implied. Please note that these are still complete sentences even though the subject is not clearly written because it is understood by the reader or listener. Like declarative sentences, imperative sentences also end in periods.

  • (You) Take out the trash before you leave.
  • (You) Give me a call when you are headed out.
  • (You) Make sure to check the oil before leaving on your road trip.
  • (You) Do not go near the ledge.
  • (You) Call your grandmother when you get a moment.


Exclamatory sentences are so named because they exclaim something. These types of sentences can also fall into other categories as well, but can be identified as exclamatory due to the presence of strong emotions. They end in an exclamation point.

Exclamatory sentences are recognizable due to the presence of strong emotion and exclamation points.

Graphic of smiley faces expressing different emotions.

  • Do not touch the stove! This sentence is also imperative, but with more emotion.
  • Come down here right now! This is also imperative.
  • Why would you go through my purse without asking?! This sentence is also interrogative, but the extra emotion makes it exclamatory.
  • How could you betray my trust that way?! This is also interrogative.
  • I can’t believe you would tell everyone my secret! This is also a declarative sentence, but the anger behind it makes it exclamatory.
  • I am so excited to get to Disneyland! This is also declarative.


Interrogative sentences pose questions, and they always end in question marks. Often, interrogative sentences begin with “question words” like who, what, where, when, how, or why. However, that is not always the case. The construction of interrogative sentences differs from the typical subject/noun, predicate/verb, object/subject complement structure seen in other sentence types, but it is important to note that they must still contain a subject and a predicate in order to be considered a sentence. In an interrogative sentence, one will often see a structure of the predicate split by the subject.

  • How will you decide which school to go to? The predicate/verb here is “will decide” which is split by the subject, “you.”
  • Do you feel okay? The predicate here is “do feel,” which is split by the subject, “you.”
  • Why aren’t you able to come to the picnic? The predicate here is “are able” and is split by both the subject, “you,” and the adverb “not.”

Are There Other Kinds of Sentences?

Although these 4 types of sentences are generally accepted as the categories that all sentences fall into, there are some linguists that include optative sentences as an additional category, which deal with mood. These items can include wishes or desires, like “Happy Birthday” or can be curses or greetings.

Lesson Summary

To review, there are 4 main types of sentences in the English language. These are declarative, imperative, exclamatory, and interrogative. There are specific qualities that make identifying and classifying sentences into these types simple.

  • Declarative sentences make statements and end in periods.
  • Imperative sentences make commands or demands, often with an implied subject, and they also end in periods.
  • Exclamatory sentences are sentences that can also fall into other categories, but with added emotion. These end in exclamation points.
  • Interrogative sentences ask questions and end in question marks.

While some experts do include optative sentences which express a mood of wish or desire, these four categories are generally accepted. Once the characteristics of each category are understood, identification is fairly clear cut. Mastery of these sentence types allows for a better command of the English language.

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