A sentence has different functions.
A declarative sentence makes a statement. It offers information.
An interrogative sentence asks a question. It seeks information.
An exclamatory sentence expresses an emotion, usually a strong emotion.
An imperative sentence gives a command. It tells someone to do something.
- 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.
Often they begin with question words (“who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” or “how”).
- Who is allowed to attend the meeting?
- What time did you read 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?
Negative tags follow positive sentences. Positive tags follow negative sentences.
- 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?
Reversed subject and verb
- 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?
- This new regulation includes pencils and paper clips?
- Board meetings always begin a 7:00 p.m.?
- They can do that?
- Paper clips count?
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!
- The county commissioners are instigating a new policy to protect pencils and paper clips?!
- The sky is falling?!
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.
Request by someone with authority
- I would like you to round up the cows in the north pasture before dark. (Employer)
- I want you to take this message to the captain. (Sargent)
- You really ought to read The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. (Minister/priest)