Sentence: Definition, Components & Types

A sentence is the largest unit of grammar. Sentences are made of clauses which are many types. So, sentences are also many types. In this article, you will learn the definition and types of sentences. 

Table of Contents


Definition of Sentence:

What is a sentence? 

A sentence is "a set of words expressing a statement, a question or an order, usually containing a subject and a verb. In written English sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop/period (.), a question mark (?) or an exclamation mark/exclamation point (!)."-Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

"A combination of words that makes a complete sense is called a sentence." -J.C. Nesfield. 

"A group of words which makes a complete sense is called a sentence." -Wren & Martin. 


Sentence Types:

Types of Sentences

The number and type of clauses and the function of the main clause determines what type of sentence it will be. 

Based on the number and type of clauses, there are three types of sentences: (i) simple sentence, (ii) compound sentence, and (iii) complex sentence. 

Simple sentences (or main clauses) are further divided into five types: (i) assertive sentence, (ii) interrogative sentences, (iii) imperative sentences, (iv) optative sentences, and (v) exclamatory sentences. 

Simple, Complex & Compound Sentences


Simple Sentences

"A sentence with one main clause is called a simple sentence."-----Cambridge Grammar of English

  • It was raining. 
  • A peacock was dancing. 


Compound Sentences

"A sentence with two or more main clauses is called a compound sentence."-----Cambridge Grammar of English

  • It was raining and a peacock was dancing. 


Complex Sentences

"A sentence with one main clause and one or more sub-ordinate clauses is called a complex sentence."-----Cambridge Grammar of English

  • When it was raining, a peacock was dancing. 



Types of Simple Sentences

A simple sentence is made of one and only one independent clause. There are five types of simple sentences in English. They are assertive sentence, interrogative sentence, imperative sentence, optative sentence, and exclamatory sentence. 

Assertive Sentences

An assertive sentence is a simple statement or assertion. It ends with a Full Stop (.). Assertive sentences are also called Declarative Sentence or Statements. In an assertive sentence, the verb is after the subject. 

  • Owls are farmers’ friend. 
  • They eat mice and rats. 

Pattern: Subject + verb + Object/complement/adjunc


Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative sentence asks question. It ends with a question mark (?). In an interrogative sentence, the verb is before the subject. This is called INVERTION. If there is a question word, it goes before the first verb of the sentence. 

  • Where are they going now?
  • Are you going out?
  • Can you see? 
  • What can you see? 

Pattern: Auxiliary Verb + Subject + verb + Object/complement/adjunc

You often see two types of interrogative sentences.

Type-1: Yes/ No Questions: 

A sentence which begins with be verb (am, is, are, was, were) helping verb (have, has, had) or modal verb (shall, should, will, would, can, could, may, might, must) is called a yes/no question. 

  • Are you ready to go? 
  • Have you done your homework? 
  • Can I take your pen?

Type—2: Wh-questions: 

A sentence which begins with a question word (who, which, what, when, where, why, how) is a wh-question. 

  • When is he coming? 
  • Where has the man gone?  
  • What should we do? 


Imperative Sentences

Imperative Sentence expresses request, command, order, advice, suggestion, etc. In an imperative sentence, subject is usually unexpressed, it is understood.

Pattern: Subject (Invisible) + verb + object / Complement/adjunc

  • Open your book. 
  • Shut the door. 
  • Be honest. 

Clear Head: 

If we put YOU before the verb, it becomes an assertive, not imperative. 

  • You open your book. (It is assertive, not imperative.)
  • You should shut the door. (It is assertive, not imperative.)
  • We must be honest. (It is assertive, not imperative.) 


Optative Sentences

A sentence which expresses wish, desire or prayer is an Optative sentence. Most Optative sentences begin with 'May'. 

  • May you live long.
  • May God bless you.
  • Wish you all the best.
  • Long live our President. 

Pattern: May + Subject + Verb + Object/ cComplement/ Adjunc


Exclamatory Sentences

A sentence which express strong or sudden feeling and emotion like surprise, pain, delight, anger, disgust, etc. is called an Exclamatory sentence.

  • Hurrah! We have won the match. 
  • Alas! I have failed.
  • How fine the dress is! 
  • What an idea!

Pattern: What/ How + Adjective/Adverb + Subject + Verb 


Affirmative & Negative Sentences

Sentences are further divided into two types: (i) Affirmative  and (ii) Negative

A sentence which gives a positive or affirmative sense is called a negative sentence.

  • Shelly is a wise man.
  • He lives in the village. 

A sentence which gives a negative sense is called a negative sentence. Negative sentences contain negative words like- no, not, none, nothing, nowhere, never, neither, nor, etc. 

  • Shelly is not an unwise man.
  • He does not live in the town.