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Sentence Functions

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English

There are four main sentence functions in the English language: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamative. When we describe a sentence based on its function, we are talking about its purpose. If you want to identify the function of a sentence, just ask yourself, 'What is the point of this sentence? What is it trying to do? '

What is a Sentence Function?

What is a sentence function? (That's an interrogative sentence)

A sentence function is the purpose of a sentence. (That's a declarative sentence)

How wonderful! (That's an exclamative sentence)

Read on to find out more. (And that's an imperative sentence)

Sentence functions are sometimes referred to as sentence types.

What are the four main sentence functions?

Now that we know what a sentence function is, let's delve a little deeper into the four main sentence functions.

First, take a look at the basic purpose of each sentence function.

  • Declarative sentence (makes a statement)
  • Interrogative sentence (asks a question)
  • Imperative sentence (gives a command)
  • Exclamative sentence (makes an exclamation)

Declarative

Declarative sentences are the most common of all sentence functions. We use declarative sentences to:

  • Make a statement.

  • Give an opinion.

  • Provide an explanation.

  • Give facts.

We use declarative sentences every day - in informal writing, formal writing, poetry, literature, daily speech, advertising - just about everywhere!

Let's take a look at some examples of declarative sentences.

  • I like singing.

  • I don't like singing.

  • It's cold because he forgot to put the heating on.

  • The capital of India is New Delhi.

Sentence functions New Delhi StudySmarterCapital of India declarative sentence, Hannah Morris - StudySmarter Originals

Interrogative

Interrogative sentences are used to ask questions and typically require an answer. There are a few different types of interrogative sentences:

  • Yes/No interrogatives.

  • Alternative interrogatives.

  • WH interrogatives.

  • Negative interrogatives.

  • Tag questions.

Interrogative sentences usually begin with a WH question word (who, what, where, when, why, and how) or an auxiliary verb (are, do, can, may, etc.), and always end with a question mark (?). Interrogatives that start with a subject are usually tag questions and are commonly used in colloquial speech. For example, 'Butterflies are insects, aren't they?', Or, more informally: 'Butterflies are insects, right?'

Let's take a look at some examples of interrogative sentences.

  • Where is the bathroom?

  • Have you seen the latest episode of The Crown?

  • You don't eat meat, do you?

  • Do you prefer tea or coffee?

Imperative

Imperative sentences are mainly used to give a command or make a demand and can be presented in several ways.

  • Giving instructions.

  • Offering advice.

  • Making a wish on behalf of someone else.

  • Extending an invitation.

  • Giving a command.

There is often no subject present when forming imperative sentences because the subject is assumed to be you, the reader, or the listener. Imperative sentences can end in either a full stop (.) or an exclamation mark (!), depending on the urgency of the command.

Here are some examples of imperative sentences:

  • Sit down!

  • Set the oven to 180 degrees.

  • Try the other door.

  • Have a nice day.

  • Please, take a seat.

Sentence functions imperative sentence StudySmarterSlow down sloth, Hannah Morris - StudySmarter Originals

Exclamative

Exclamative sentences are used to express strong feelings and opinions, such as surprise, excitement, and anger. Exclamative sentences must contain the words What or How and usually end with an exclamation mark (!).

Here are some examples of exclamative sentences:

  • 'Lord, what fools these mortals be!' (William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1605)

  • What a nice surprise!

  • Oh, how lovely!

Not all sentences that end with an exclamation mark are exclamative sentences. Sentences that do not contain the words What or How are simply different sentence functions driven by emotion and given an exclamation mark to highlight that emotion; we call these exclamations. Declarative sentences made with emotion and ending with exclamation marks are called exclamatory sentences.

Sentence functions and sentence structures, what's the difference?

Sentences can be defined in two ways: by their purpose and by their structure. Be careful not to confuse sentence functions with sentence structures!

Sentence structures are how we form sentences, such as simple sentences, compound sentences, complex sentences, and compound-complex sentences.

Let's break down some sentences based on their function and their structure to highlight the differences.

'Before you come in, take off your shoes.'

Function = imperative sentence

This is an imperative sentence because its purpose is to give a command.

Structure = Complex sentence

This is a complex sentence because it contains one independent clause and one dependent clause.

'I was feeling hungry, so I ate a sandwich.'

Function = Declarative sentence

This is a declarative sentence because it is declaring a fact.

Structure = Compound sentence

This is a compound sentence because it contains two independent clauses.

Sentence Functions - Key takeaways

  • Sentence functions describe the purpose of a sentence.

  • There are four main sentence functions: Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative, and Exclamative.

  • Sentence functions are sometimes referred to as sentence types.

  • Sentence functions are different from sentence structures.

Sentence Functions

There are four different types of sentence according to function: 

  • A declarative sentence (makes a statement)
  • An interrogative sentence (asks a question)
  • An imperative sentence (gives a command)
  • An exclamative sentence (makes an exclamation)

The function of a sentence says what the purpose of the sentence is. For example, the purpose of an imperative sentence is to give a command or make a demand.

'I like cheese.'

'Where did you put the cheese?'

'Step away from my cheese!'

'Wow, what a delicious cheese!'

Final Sentence Functions Quiz

Question

What are we describing when we talk about sentence functions?





Show answer

Answer

The structure of the sentence.

Show question

Question

What are the four main sentence functions?


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Answer

Declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamative. 


Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of a declarative sentence?


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Answer

To make a statement.


Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of an imperative sentence?


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Answer

 To give a command or demand. 


Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of an interrogative sentence?


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Answer

To ask a question.


Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of an exclamative sentence?


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Answer

To make an exclamation, i.e. express emotion.


Show question

Question

What type of sentence function is the following sentence: 'Sit down, please.'


Show answer

Answer

​​​​​Imperative sentence


Show question

Question

What type of sentence function is the following sentence: ‘What big teeth you have!’

Show answer

Answer

 Exclamative sentence. 


Show question

Question

What type of sentence function is the following sentence: ‘You don't have a pen, do you?’

Show answer

Answer

Interrogative sentence.


Show question

Question

What type of sentence function is the following sentence: ‘I need a holiday.’


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Answer

Declarative sentence.


Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of a declarative sentence?

Show answer

Answer

To make a statement.


Show question

Question

What punctuation do we end a declarative sentence with?


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Answer

A full stop.

Show question

Question

 What are the two main types of declarative sentences?

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Answer

 Simple and compound sentences.


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Question

What are the two components of a declarative sentence?


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Answer

Subject and predicate.

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Question

 In a declarative sentence which component usually comes first, the subject or the predicate?


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Answer

The subject.


Show question

Question

Is a reported question and interrogative or a declarative sentence?

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Answer

A declarative sentence.


Show question

Question

The following sentence is a declarative, true or false?

       'There's a cow in the garden!'

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

The following sentence is a declarative, true or false?

       'She asked me to get milk.'

Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is a compound declarative sentence?

A. She enjoys watching romcoms and thrillers. 

B. Tina likes burgers; her husband likes hot dogs.

C. Do you prefer tea or coffee?

Show answer

Answer

B. Tina likes burgers; her husband likes hot dogs.

Show question

Question

There are both positive and negative declarative sentences, true or false?


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Answer

True.

Show question

Question

What is the main purpose of an interrogative sentence?

A. To give an instruction.

B. To give information.

C. To request information.

Show answer

Answer

B. To give information.

Show question

Question

Interrogatives typically begin with WH-question words and what type of verb?


Show answer

Answer

 Auxiliary verbs.



Show question

Question

Tag questions are a form of interrogatives, true or false?


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Answer

True

Show question

Question

Rhetorical questions are a form of interrogatives, true or false?


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Answer

False.

Show question

Question

Interrogatives can come in positive and negative forms, true or false?


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is not an interrogative?

A. You don't eat meat, do you?

B. She asked me to come for dinner.

C. Do you need a lift?

Show answer

Answer

B. She asked me to come for dinner.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is an interrogative?

A. She asked me about the show.

B. Where is the toilet?

C. Who wouldn't want to be a millionaire?

Show answer

Answer

B. Where is the toilet?

Show question

Question

What punctuation do we always use with an interrogative?

Show answer

Answer

A question mark.

Show question

Question

'Close the door please'

This sentence is an example of what?

A. Declarative.

B. Imperative.

C. Exclamative.

Show answer

Answer

B. Imperative.

Show question

Question

'What do you want for dinner?'

This sentence is an example of what?

A. Imperatives.

B.Exclamative.

C. Interrogatives.

Show answer

Answer

C. Interrogatives.

Show question

Question

'Would you like this with milk or without milk?'

What type of interrogative is this?

A. Yes / No interrogative.

B. Tag question.

C. Alternative interrogative.

Show answer

Answer

C. Alternative interrogative.

Show question

Question

 'You don't want beans, do you?'

What type of interrogative is this?

A. WH-interrogative.

B. Tag question.

C. Alternative interrogative.

Show answer

Answer

B. Tag question.

Show question

Question

Do rhetorical questions require answers?


Show answer

Answer

No.

Show question

Question

How do you form a basic Yes / No interrogative?

A. auxiliary verb + subject + main verb

B. WH-question word + subject + main verb

C. auxiliary verb + main verb + subject

Show answer

Answer

A. auxiliary verb + subject + main verb

Show question

Question

What is the main function of an imperative?

Show answer

Answer

To give a command.

Show question

Question

Which two punctuation marks are used at the end of an imperative?


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Answer

 Full stop or exclamation mark.

Show question

Question

The following sentence is an example of which type of imperative? 'Look out!'

Show answer

Answer

Warning.

Show question

Question

An imperative sentence is formed using which one of the following?

A. Pronoun

B. Base verb

C. Modal verb

Show answer

Answer

B. Base verb

Show question

Question

You are likely to find imperatives in a recipe book, true or false?


Show answer

Answer

True.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is an example of a wish imperative:

A. Join me for dinner tonight.

B. Watch out!

C. Enjoy your meal.

Show answer

Answer

C. Enjoy your meal.

Show question

Question

Which of the following is an example of advice imperative:

A. Have a nice day.

B. Try oat milk instead. 

C. Wait here.

Show answer

Answer

B. Try oat milk instead.

Show question

Question

 The following sentence is an imperative, true or false?

       'She told me not to sit there.'

Show answer

Answer

False.

This is an example of reported speech.

Show question

Question

 The following sentence is an imperative, true or false?

       'Please open the door for me.'

Show answer

Answer

True. 

This is a request. 

Show question

Question

How can we make commands more polite?


Show answer

Answer

By using the words please or do.

Show question

Question

Why do we use exclamative sentences?

Show answer

Answer

We use exclusive sentences to express strong emotions and feelings or our opinions and assessments of a situation.

Show question

Question

Which two words must appear in an exclamative sentence?

Show answer

Answer

What and How 

Show question

Question

What punctuation usually comes at the end of an exclamative sentence?


Show answer

Answer

An exclamation mark.

Show question

Question

What is the difference between an exclamation and an exclamative?


Show answer

Answer

Exclamations can be sounds, words, or sentences, whereas an exclamative sentence must contain the words What or How.

Show question

Question

What type of word often goes at the beginning of an exclamative sentence?


Show answer

Answer

An interjection.

Show question

Question

What type of word can follow How to form an elliptical exclamative?

Show answer

Answer

An adjective.

Show question

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