When we use language, it is not just about the grammatical line-up of words. Language function in various capacities and can be used to depict different things at different times. In English, the four major sentence types we have are: declarative sentence, imperative sentence, exclamatory sentence and interrogative sentence.
Each of these functions at various levels of utterances and meaning. We use them every day, and it is not possible to neglect any of them in our day-to-day conversation—unless we decide not to talk or write.
A declarative sentence is used to state something as we believe it is. It is a piece of information, fact or idea we pass across in speech and writing. We use a full stop (period) to indicate the end of a declarative sentence.
- Nigeria got her independence in 1960.
- When your body is too weak, sleep is imminent.
- I love you.
An imperative sentence is that sentence we use to command, make request or express a wish. We can use either a full stop or, sometimes, an exclamation mark to end this type of sentence. An imperative sentence can be a single action verb. An invisible ‘you’ is in every imperative sentence.
- Lower your voice so you won’t wake that baby.
- See me after this meeting.
Note: To be polite, we use please before making a request.
An exclamatory sentence is what we use to show emotion. The exclamatory mark is used, always, in this type of sentence, which makes it conspicuous.
- My door was opened!
- Oh, my goodness, it is a gift!
- I looked back and saw the lion approaching!
Note: The exclamation marks in imperative and exclamatory sentences have different functions, and should not be confused. The punctuation mark is used in imperative (sometimes) to request for something with a command tone, while it is used in exclamatory (always)to show how emotional you are about something that happened, is happening or will happen.
We use an interrogative sentence to ask a question or request for information. This sentence type uses a question mark.
- What is the capital of Kenya?
- Do you have a picture of the senator?
- You don’t want to comment on that, do you?