The 4 English Sentence Types | Grammar


(Do not confuse with the 4 types of sentence structure.)

There are four types of English sentence, classified by their purpose:

  • declarative sentence (statement)
  • interrogative sentence (question)
  • imperative sentence (command)
  • exclamative sentence (exclamation)

The 4 Types of Sentence

Sentence types are sometimes called clause types.

  form function example sentence (clause) final punctuation
1 declarative statement: It tells us something John likes Mary. .
2 interrogative question: It asks us something Does Mary like John? ?
3 imperative command: It tells us to do something Stop!
Close the door.
! or .
4 exclamative exclamation: It expresses surprise What a funny story he told us! !

(form = structure / function = job)

1. Declarative Sentence (statement)

Declarative sentences make a statement. They tell us something. They give us information, and they normally end with a full-stop/period.

The usual word order for the declarative sentence is:

Declarative sentences can be positive or negative. Look at these examples:

positive negative
I like coffee. I do not like coffee.
We watched TV last night. We did not watch TV last night.

Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence.

2. Interrogative Sentence (question)

Interrogative sentences ask a question. They ask us something. They want information, and they always end with a question mark.

The usual word order for the interrogative sentence is:

  • (wh-word +) auxiliary + subject + verb…
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Interrogative sentences can be positive or negative. Look at these examples:

positive negative
Do you like coffee? Don’t you like coffee?
Why did you go? Why didn’t you go?

3. Imperative Sentence (command)

Imperative sentences give a command. They tell us to do something, and they end with a full-stop/period (.) or exclamation mark/point (!).

The usual word order for the imperative sentence is:

Note that there is usually no subject—because the subject is understood, it is YOU.

Imperative sentences can be positive or negative. Look at these examples:

positive negative
Stop! Do not stop!
Give her coffee. Don’t give her coffee.

4. Exclamative Sentence (exclamation)

Exclamative sentences express strong emotion/surprise—an exclamation—and they always end with an exclamation mark/point (!).

The usual word order for the exclamative sentence is:

  • What (+ adjective) + noun + subject + verb
  • How (+ adjective/adverb) + subject + verb

Look at these examples:

  • What a liar he is!
  • What an exciting movie it was!
  • How he lied!
  • How exciting the movie was!

sentence type examples

Note the form and function of the above four types. In general, we use the declarative form to make a statement. We use the interrogative form to ask a question. We use the imperative form to issue a command. We use the exclamative form to make an exclamation.

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But function and form do not always coincide, especially with a change in intonation. For example, we can use the declarative form to give a command—You will now start the exam. Or we can use the interrogative form to make an exclamation—Wow, can Jo play the piano! We can even ask a question with the declarative form—Bangkok is in Thailand? So it is important to recognize this and not be confused when the function does not always match the form.

Contributor: Josef Essberger



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