A declarative sentence explains.
An exclamatory sentence shouts.
An interrogative sentence asks.
An imperative sentence commands.
Sentences have different functions.
- The couple huddles together in the cold weather, wrapped in a single blanket, shivering, but waiting eagerly for the bus to take them to the board meeting.
- The public board meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the county courthouse to discuss the change in regulations regarding the use of county equipment.
- Nobody would be allowed to use any form of county equipment, including pencils and paperclips, without express permission from a county commissioner who has served on the board for at least six months.
- The new regulation is intended to protect county property and save the taxpayer money.
- Only the future will determine its success.
The function of a question is to ask something or to verify something. Questions end with a question mark (?).
- Who is allowed to attend the meeting?
- What time did you say that the meeting begins?
- When will they discuss the change in regulations?
- Where will the meeting take place?
- Why are they proposing this new regulation?
- How do they intend to enforce it?
Question tags can be positive or negative. Positive tags follow negative statements, and negative tags follow positive statements.
Examples of question tags:
- is it?
- does he?
- will we?
- can they?
- isn’t it?
- doesn’t he?
- won’t we?
- can’t they?
- This new regulation is a little extreme, isn’t it?
- Board meetings always begin at 7:00 pm, don’t they?
- They can’t do that, can they?
- They don’t really care about paper clips, do they?
- It will work, won’t it?
- Will the public board meeting begin at 7:00 pm?
- Does the new regulation include pencils and pens?
- Has the new regulation been approved yet?
- Can it be enforced?
- Will it work?
An exclamation mark at the end usually indicates heightened emotion.
Exclamation marks should be used sparingly in fiction, mostly in dialogue. They are not appropriate for non-fiction.
- He hit me!
- Don’t do that!
- I have told you a million times not to hit people!
- The sky is falling!
Most people will not expect to see an interrobang as they read, but they are becoming more common.
- The county commissioners are instigating a new policy to protect pencils and paper clips?!
- The sky is falling?!
- This new regulation includes pencils and paper clips?
- Board meetings always begin a 7:00 p.m.?
- They can do that?
- Paper clips count?
The function of a command is to issue an order, generally from someone with authority, anyone from your two-year-old child to a five-star general.
Occasionally, a command will be accompanied by “please.”
- Tie my shoe!
- Take this message to the admiral.
- Hit a home run!
- Please bring me that book from the top shelf, the brown one with the bookmark.
- (Ranch owner to cowhand) I would like you to round up the cows in the north pasture before dark.
- (Sargent to new private) I want you to take this message to the captain.
- (Priest to person in confession booth) You really ought to read The Message by Eugene H. Peterson.