A sentence is a group of words that expresses a complete thought.

  • Fire burns.
  • Wolves howl.
  • Rain is falling.
  • Charles is courageous.
  • Patient effort removes mountains.
  • London is the largest city in the world.
  • A man who respects himself should never condescend to use slovenly language.

Some of these sentences are short, expressing a very simple thought; others are comparatively long, because the thought is more complicated and therefore requires more words for its expression. But every one of them, whether short or long, is complete in itself. It comes to a definite end, and is followed by a full pause.

Sentences, whether short or long, consist of two parts,—a subject and a predicate.

The subject of a sentence designates the person, place, or thing that is spoken of; the predicate is that which is said of the subject.

Thus, in the first example, the subject is fire and the predicate is burns. In the third, the subject is rain; the predicate, is falling. In the last, the subject is a man who respects himself; the predicate, should never condescend to use slovenly language.

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Sentences may be declarative, interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory.

1. A declarative sentence declares or asserts something as a fact.

  • Dickens wrote “David Copperfield.”
  • The army approached the city.

2. An interrogative sentence asks a question.

  • Who is that officer?
  • Does Arthur Moore live here?

3. An imperative sentence expresses a command or a request.

  • Open the window.
  • Pronounce the vowels more distinctly.

4. An exclamatory sentence expresses surprise, grief, or some other emotion in the form of an exclamation or cry.

  • How calm the sea is!
  • What a noise the engine makes!

Declarative, interrogative, or imperative sentences are also exclamatories if they are uttered in an intense or excited tone of voice.

In imperative sentences, the subject (thou or you) is almost always omitted, because it is understood by both speaker and hearer without being expressed.

Such omitted words, which are present (in idea) to the minds of both speaker and hearer, are said to be “understood.” Thus, in “Open the window,” the subject is “you(understood).” If expressed, the subject would be emphatic: as,—“You open the window.

The subject of a sentence commonly precedes the predicate, but sometimes the predicate precedes.

  • Here comes Tom.
  • Next came Edward.
  • Over went the carriage.

A sentence in which the predicate precedes the subject is said to be in the inverted order. This order is especially common in interrogative sentences.

  • Where is your boat?
  • When was your last birthday?
  • Whither wander you?—Shakspere.

So, to sum up:

A group of words that expresses a complete thought is called a sentence.

A sentence that asserts or declares something is called a declarative sentence.

The one that expresses a command or request is called an imperative sentence.

The one that asks a question is called an interrogative sentence.

And the one that expresses a sudden or strong feeling is called an exclamatory sentence.

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