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Definition of Sentence and Types Of Sentences: Assertive, Interrogative, Imperative, Optative, Exclamatory

Let us look at the examples below:
1. In the evening.
2. Day before yesterday.
3. Best physician.
4. The sun.
5. Her father.

None of the groups of words above give you a complete meaning. So they are not sentences.

Now look at the following examples:
1. I met him in the evening.
2. He came here the day before yesterday.
3. He is the best physician in the town.
4. The sun rises in the east.
5. Her father is a teacher.

Each of the above groups of words gives a complete sense. So they are sentences. A sentence is a group of words that makes a complete sense. It has at least a subject and predicate. The subject can be expressed or understood. It can express a simple statement, question, order, request, wish, prayer or sudden feeling of mind etc. A word or group of words that doesn't give you a complete sense can also be considered a sentence if it makes sense in the context in which it is spoken. Such expressions are found in the category of imperative, Optative and exclamatory sentences.

For example:
Stop! (imperative)
Good Morning (Optative)
What! (exclamatory) etc.

You will find examples of such one or two word sentences in the examples of different types of sentences given below.

Types Of Sentences:

We can divide the sentences into the following five types according to their meaning, purpose, function or manner of expression.

Assertive Sentences:

Sentences that simply assert, state, declare or say something are called assertive sentences. They are also called declarative sentences and statements. In simple terms, such sentences simply provide information about something. The information provided can be about anything. It can be a fact, event or idea. Such sentences end with a full stop. Most of the English sentences belong to this category. Further all types of sentences become assertive when reported in the indirect narration, i.e. reported or indirect speech.

Examples Of Assertive Sentences:
1. The Sun rises in the east.
2. The earth is round.
3. I am a student.
4. He plays football everyday.
5. She will reach home by 5 PM.
6. I don't play cricket.
7. She doesn't like tea.
8. You should buy an umbrella.
9. They won't attend the meeting.
10. She reads in class V.

The rules for structure of assertive sentences are that they usually follow a subject + verb + object pattern.

Interrogative Sentences Or Questions:

Sentences that interrogate, that is, ask questions are called interrogative sentences. They are also called questions. Such sentences end with a question mark. Questions can be of three types.

Types And Examples Of Interrogative Sentences:

Questions that require a full answer. Such questions are formed by using question words, that is, wh words.

1. What is your name?
2. When is her birthday?
3. Where do you live?
4. Where are you going now?
5. What class do you read in?
6. Who is Mr Roy?
7. Where did you go yesterday?
8. How are you?
9. How did you find this story?
10. How did it happen?

Questions that require a yes/no type of answer. Such questions are formed by using auxiliary verbs.

1. Have you met your brother today?
2. Are you ready now?
3. Has the bus come?
4. Have you a pen?
5. Do you have a pen?
6. Will you go there today?
7. Did you go to the market yesterday?
8. Am I wrong?
9. Is he angry?
10. Doesn't he like coffee?
11. Are they not rich people?
12. Do you know him?

Questions that require a part of the question itself as an answer. Such questions are also formed by using auxiliaries.

1. Has he met Romen or Gitanjali?
2. Do you like tea or coffee?
3. Will you go there today or tomorrow?
4. Is it Sunday or Monday today?
5. Are you going to Bhutan or Nepal?

There is also another form of questions called Question tags. Question tags are NOT a type interrogative sentence as they are short phrases added at the end of other sentences to ask for some confirmation.

1. He is going to market, isn't he?
2. Go there, won't you?

Note that the rules for construction of interrogative sentences differ from those of assertive sentences. In an assertive sentence, the usual pattern or structure is subject + verb + object. But in the case of an interrogative sentence, the pattern is reversed to some extent. A question word such as who, what, which, how etc is placed at the beginning of the sentence followed by the auxiliary and the main verbs. When the question does not demand a question word as in the examples (F & G) above, the auxiliary or helping verb is used at the beginning of the sentence. The subject usually comes between the auxiliary and the main verbs. If an auxiliary verb is not available in the sentence, some form of 'do' verb or some form of do + have (Ex-F. 5,7,10,12 above) is used.

Imperative Sentences:

Sentences that express advice, orders, requests, commands, suggestions, proposals, seeking permission etc are called imperative sentences. Generally, the subject 'you' in such sentences is understood but not expressed. The subject can be expressed when the speaker specifically points out or emphasizes the person he is addressing. Such sentences end with a full stop. However if the speaker expresses an emotion or excitement, a note of exclamation can be used at the end of such sentences.

Examples Of Imperative Sentences:
1. Take care of yourself.
2. Study attentively.
3. Wait a few minutes.
4. Go there.
5. Come here.
6. Stop.
7. Read loudly.
8.Tell me the story.
9. Don't go there.
10. Please help me.
11. Let me do the work.
12. Let them go now.
13. Let him do the work.
14. Do the work.
15. Keep the book on the table.
16. You go there.
17. You tell them.

Note that the subject is not written in most of the sentences. The subject is 'you', it has to be mentally supplied. In the last two examples, (I. 16 & 17) the use of 'you' emphasizes that none but the person addressed has to carry out the order. It can also mean that there are more than one person present and the person who has to carry out the order is being particularly pointed out. Another point to be noted is the use of let. Let here (I. 11,12,13) implies seeking or granting permission. The usual rules for structure of an imperative sentence are that the base form of the verb is the principal element in the sentence. If the verb is intransitive, no object is required. If it is transitive, an object is required. Adjuncts and or complements are used according to what the speaker expresses.

Optative Sentences:

Sentences that express wishes, prayers, desires etc are called Optative sentences. Such sentences usually begin with wish or may. Sometimes the word 'may' is hidden. Optative sentences also end with a full stop or exclamation mark depending upon the meaning conveyed. If the speaker expresses a strong emotion or excitement, an exclamation mark is used.

Examples Of Optative Sentences:
1. May God bless you.
2. May you live long.
3. Long live our king.
4. Wish you a happy married life.
5. May he not suffer.
6. May he not fall in danger.
7. May the Almighty save our country.
8. May his soul rest in peace.
9. Good Morning!
10. Good Evening!
11. Let not the boy suffer!
12. Let them not suffer!

The rules for structure of Optative Sentences are that 'may' or 'wish' is placed at the beginning. Sometimes may and wish are hidden and the sentence begins with an adverb. (Ex-J. 3) The use of let here (Ex-J. 11 & 12) expresses a wish.

Differences between imperative and Optative sentences:

In most of the imperative sentences, the subject is not mentioned. Imperative sentences express the ideas of advice, order, request, suggestion, proposal etc  while the Optative sentences express wish, prayer, desires etc and usually begin with may or wish. Note that Some experts make a different classification of sentences. According to them, both imperative and optative sentences belong to one category called 'Imperative Sentences or Sentences of Desire'. So, they classify sentences into four types.

Exclamatory Sentences:

Sentences that express sudden feelings of mind or emotion, excitement etc are called exclamatory sentences. Such sentences end with a mark of exclamation. If there is an interjection in the beginning of the sentence, an exclamation mark is used after it and a full stop follows the end of the sentence.

Examples Of Exclamatory Sentences:
1. What beautiful scenery it is!
2. Thank God!
3. Hurrah! We have won.
4. My life has changed totally without you! 
5. Alas! he is dead.
6. What a beautiful sight!
7. How nice it is!
8. I hate you!
9. How sad!
10. How sweet!
11. How cute the baby is!

Each of the above types of sentences can be either affirmative or negative. Affirmative sentences are those that affirm things. Negative sentences are those that deny things. Generally, affirmative sentences are turned into negative by adding 'not' after the auxiliaries. Words like no, none, nothing, neither etc are also used to form negative sentences. We'll discuss how to turn affirmative sentences into negative later.