Types of Sentences

Types of Sentences

There are four main types of sentences:

  1. Simple or Declarative Sentence
  2. Command or Imperative Sentence
  3. Question or Interrogative Sentence
  4. Exclamatory Sentence

Depending on your purpose, you will use one of the above types of sentences in your writing.


Declarative Sentences

These sentences are used to state information. They are the most commonly used sentence type. Most academic writing employs simple or declarative sentences. Declarative sentences end with a period. For example:

  • Research on the topic suggests that grammar is essential to success.


Imperative Sentences

These sentences give commands or make requests. Imperative sentences end with a period. For example:

  • Open the window.


Interrogative Sentences

These sentences ask questions. Accordingly, they end with a question mark. For example:

  • Did you complete the assignment?


Exclamatory Sentences

These sentences express emotion and, as such, end with an exclamation mark.

  • She is going to fall!

Exclamatory sentences are not common in academic writing. You should only use them if you have to convey a strong emotion, which does not happen often in academic writing as it tends to be objective and formal.


Additional Hints on Variety

Once you are comfortable with the different types and constructions of sentences, try to incorporate more variety into your writing.

A question can be especially useful at the beginning of a paragraph where you want to summarize what preceded and then launch into what will now follow. “And what were the results of the Quebec Act of 1774?” This reminds your readers where you are in your discussion — Ah yes, that’s what we’re talking about — and prepares them for what comes next.

A command or directive provides direction and energy. Readers react to being grabbed by the collar and told what to do. A command is hard to ignore. Tone is important here. A bit of well-intentioned cajoling is usually more useful than in-your-face shouting. “Learning the principle of parallel structure can be the most important thing you learn in writing class. Learn it now!”

Try beginning an occasional sentence with something other than the normal subject-followed-by-verb order of things. Begin with a modifying clause or participial phrase instead. “When sterilization of the equipment is complete, the dental hygienist can begin to focus on his or her client.” “Having sterilized the equipment, the dental hygienist started focusing on his client.”

Try to vary your sentence structure between simple, compound, and complex constructions to keep the reader interested. It does no good to be overly conscious of these sentence types in the first draft of your essay, but as you review your essay, keep in mind that too many sentences of any one kind — especially too many simple sentences — will be tedious for your reader. Variety of sentence structure and type liberates your text from monotony. See Sentence Constructions for definitions and examples of each type.