Did you know that you use declarative sentences all the time? It's true; even if you don't realize it, your writing is filled with them. In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about them and how to use them in your writing.
This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.
So, what exactly is a declarative sentence? If you use them all the time, you ought to know what they look like, how to make them, and when they can be used. Let's dive in.
Declarative sentences cover a broad range of uses. You can use them to state an opinion, share a fact, request information, make an observation, explain something, and the list goes on.
Of all four sentence types, assertive sentences are the most used, probably due to their flexibility. They are the default sentence type. If your sentence isn't asking a question, exclaiming, or giving a command, it's probably a declarative sentence.
The other three are:
You'll find declarative sentences in books, papers, reports, or essays.
Declarative sentences can be any length or level of complexity, as we'll find out later when we look at sentence structure types. Just like any sentence, at the very least, they must contain a subject and a predicate. Your most simple declarative sentence will be structured as such:
[subject] + [predicate] + [object]
I like cake.
But a more complex one might also contain modifiers, conjunctions, adverbs, prepositions, and all manner of other parts of speech.
I really like eating chocolate cake for breakfast.
We can better understand the function of declarative sentences by looking at the meaning of the word 'declarative.'
This adjective comes from the verb 'declare,' which means, according to the Cambridge Dictionary:
- to announce something clearly, firmly, publicly, or officially
Note from this definition that a declaration is made with confidence. Declarative sentences are not aggressive or passive; they're often relatively neutral. But they convey a strong attitude and tone.
Now we've covered the basics, let's take a look at some examples of declarative sentences:
I've never been to New Jersey.
We're going to have lunch in the cafeteria.
Your home is beautiful.
I don't know where John is.
That exam was very difficult.
Now, we've covered the meaning of declarative sentences, and you've seen some examples of what that looks like. Let's look at the different types of declarative sentences that you can make.
There are four types of sentence structure, all of which can take on any function, whether declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, or imperative. Of course, in this article, we'll just be looking at the declarative sentence function.
Simple sentences are the first type of sentence structure and, as the name implies, the most simple. They're made of just one independent clause and need only one subject and one predicate. If there is more than one clause, it's no longer a simple sentence.
Here's an example of a simple declarative sentence:
I went to the store and bought some apples.
Here's an example of each format:
I went to the store to buy some apples, but it was closed.
I went to the store to buy some apples; it was closed.
Then, you have complex sentences, which are made up of one independent clause and at least one dependent clause. A dependent clause can't stand alone because it doesn't convey a complete thought. That's why it needs to be attached to an independent clause.
Here's an example of a declarative complex sentence:
I'll go to the store while you wash the dishes.
Finally, compound-complex sentences have at least two independent clauses and one dependent clause. They look a little something like this:
I went to the store to buy some apples, but it was closed since it was already 10pm.
Declarative sentences can also be negative. These are statements that express denial, disagreement, or refusal, or even that something is not present or does not exist.
This type of sentence is characterized by negation words such as:
Or negation in verbs such as:
Here are some examples of negative declarative sentences:
You don't know what you've got until it's gone.
She's never tried skydiving because she doesn't like heights.
These aren't the right batteries; they don't fit.
While this article focuses on teaching you about declarative sentences, I thought it would also be worthwhile to give you a short introduction to the other sentence types. Plus, it's helpful to see what declarative sentences are not, considering they are so common.
If you want to learn about those in more depth, you can click on the link to a longer article in each section.
Interrogative sentences ask a question. You can use interrogative sentences to request absolutely any type of information.
You can use them to:
Here are some examples:
What would you like to do on Saturday?
Shall we move on to the next section where we will discuss alternative solutions?
Who wouldn't want to be a millionaire?
Imperative sentences express a command.
You can use them to:
They end with a period or, sometimes, an exclamation mark. They can be extremely short or relatively long. The shortest possible sentence is imperative because you don't have to mention the subject; it's implied. You jump straight into the predicate, starting with the verb itself.
NOTE: It's the only type of sentence in English grammar that doesn't require a subject.
Here are some examples:
We request your presence at our wedding reception.
Don't sit so close to me.
Pass me the salt, please.
Exclamatory sentences express a reaction or strong emotion to something and always end with an exclamation point. You can use them to express emotions and feelings such as surprise, pain, anger, disgust, or disbelief.
Exclamatory sentences are very similar to declarative ones. The difference is just that an exclamatory sentence also conveys some emotion through its use of an exclamation point.
Here are some examples of exclamatory sentences:
I can't believe it's already Monday!
What a delicious meal!
He still hasn't returned the book he borrowed!
That concludes this article on declarative sentences. I hope you found it helpful and feel you now understand clearly what they are, how to make them, and when to use them.
Let's summarize what we've learned:
- Declarative sentences allow you to make confident statements and share facts and opinions.
- It's one of four sentence types, the other four being interrogative, imperative and exclamatory.
- You can make simple, compound, complex and compound-complex declarative sentences.
- Declarative sentences can also be negative.
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