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Declarative Sentence (statement)

You're gonna need a bigger boat.Martin Brody, Jaws

Declarative sentences are the most common of the four sentence types (declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamative).

Declarative sentences make statements.

form function example
subject + verb... make a statement John likes Mary.
declarative sentence = statement

What is the form of a declarative sentence?

The typical form (structure) of a declarative sentence is:

subject + verb  
Ram   speaks Chinese.

The final punctuation is usually a full-stop/period (.).

Declarative sentences can be in positive or negative form, and in any tense.

What is the function of a declarative sentence?

The usual function (job) of a declarative sentence is to make a statement. It tells us something or gives information (as opposed to a question which asks us something or wants information).

Look at these examples:

  • Snow is white.
  • John was working all night.
  • Very few people have actually met an alien.

How do we use a declarative sentence?

We use declarative sentences all the time. They are the most common of all sentence types. The three sentences in this paragraph are declarative sentences.

Look at these positive and negative examples:

positive negative
Two plus two makes four. Two plus two doesn't make five.
I like coffee. I do not like coffee.
We watched TV last night. We didn't watch TV last night.
People will go to Mars in the next decade. People will never go to Mars.
They have been married for over thirty years. They haven't lived together for over thirty years.

Other functions with declarative form

It is important to separate form (structure) from function (job).

The form of a declarative sentence is subject-verb.

The function of a declarative sentence is usually to make a statement. But not always! Sometimes it can ask a question, give a command or even express emotion.

The following sentence is in declarative form (it looks like a statement, except for the punctuation) but is actually asking a question (normally done with the interrogative form):

  • Anthony likes coffee? (real interrogative form → Does Anthony like coffee?)

This is more common in spoken English than in written English.

Here is another example of a sentence in declarative form. This time it looks like a statement but is actually giving a command (normally done with the imperative form):

  • You will now open your books. (real imperative form → Open your books!)

The next sentence is again in declarative form. This time it looks like a statement (except for the punctuation) but is actually making an exclamation (which can also be done with the exclamative form):

  • Bangkok was hot! (real exclamative form → How hot Bangkok was!)
Bangkok was hot. makes a statement  
All the sentences ⇑⇓ have the same form (declarative — subject-verb)... ...but ⇑⇓ different functions... ...normally expressed with ...for example
Bangkok was hot? asks a question interrogative Was Bangkok hot?
Bangkok was hot! expresses emotion exclamative How hot Bangkok was!
You will now sit. issues a command imperative Sit!

Mini Quiz

1. The most frequent sentence type is

a) declarative b) interrogative c) imperative

2. The declarative form is typically used to

issue commands
ask questions
make statements
a) issue commands b) ask questions c) make statements

3. Statements usually end with

a question mark
a full-stop/period
an exclamation mark/point
a) a question mark b) a full-stop/period c) an exclamation mark/point

Your score is:

Correct answers:

Contributor: Josef Essberger


Nobody has the right to obey.'