Depending on what exactly you are going to elicit in a sentence, there are different classifications of it in English language. A sentence can be simple, complex or compound, based on their structure.
This article will contain a complete explanation of all types of a sentence and never leave you with more questions than answers after having read it.
Sentences Classified by Structure
First of all, we will take a look at the grammatical form of the English sentences and their classification due to the grammatical structure:
- Simple. Such sentences have one subject-predicate unit (clause) and can contain or not contain optional elements to be extended: e.g. My father loves fishing.
- Compound sentences include two or even more independent subject-predicate units or clauses: e.g. My father loves fishing, and I go fishing with him.
- Complex type is a scheme of subordination when one clause is independent but another one depends on it: e.g. My father loves fishing because it brings him joy.
- Complex-compound sentence is a combination of a complex and compound forms united within one sentence: e.g. My father loves fishing because it gives him a great relaxation and I always go fishing with him when I have time.
The sentences can also be classified by their purpose in a text or conversation and the following ones clearly tell you what message they carry and how they look like in a written language.
The sentence gives some information that is necessary for a speaker, expresses a point of view or makes a statement. In this group, we can classify affirmative declaratives (with positive evaluation) and negative ones.
E.g. I have just come back from a vacation. (positive statement)
E.g. I haven’t seen anyone yet. (negative statement)
E.g. I think you shouldn’t go there. (negative point of view)
Interrogative types contain questions; however, the variety of questions may impress everyone as well. For example, questions can be:
- General – also called “yes or no” questions when the speaker is interested in your answer to find out about something: e.g. Do you want me to come? To this group also belong Tag Questions, when a short “yes” or “no” is also added to a statement: e.g. You wanted to see me, didn’t you?
- Alternative questions usually imply a choice between two or more alternative answers: e.g. Which do you prefer, black or white shirt?
- Suggestive questions keep the word order of statements but serve as questions showing the rising tone while speaking and having a question mark in writing: e.g. you wanted to see me?
- Pronominal questions start with an interrogative pronoun or a pronominal adverb: e.g. Who came first? What was the question?
- Rhetorical questions contain a statement disguised as a question but no answer is expected. Usually they are philosophical questions about a human life: e.g. What is love? Where in the world should I live?
Such statements urge someone to perform some action for the speaker. Imperatives express commands and prohibition, invitation, warnings and persuasion. The pronoun “you” is implied but not explicitly stated and, as a rule, exclamatory marks are added to heighten an effect. The verb may take the first position in a sentence but doesn’t always do that.
E.g. Be quick! (the particle “to” is not added)
E.g. Silence! (Verbless command)
E.g. Please, go to my mom and tell her what I told you. (issuing a request)
E.g. Just do it. (famous example of an imperative in a commercial)
The main distinctive feature here is a specific information, it is structurally variable. Such statements are usually used to show some emotions like surprise, excitement, anger or happiness that are essential for some current situation. As a rule, exclamatory mark is at the end of a sentence.
E.g. It is too dangerous to go there alone!
E.g. It was such an exciting trip with my family!
Used to express some statement that would be true only under a certain condition. There are several types of it, namely: zero, first, second, third conditionals.
E.g. If I were you, I would buy that house. (second conditional)
E.g. I will come if you don’t mind (first conditional)
Why to learn the types of English sentences? Maybe right now you do not see a great importance of this activity, but once having mastered the elementary things, they will enable you to convey the information of some rarely implicit sentences and comprehend the emotions and intentions of a writer’s text.
Check yourself! What type of the sentence do these statements belong to?
- Come here, please.
- Where are my keys?
- I love talking with Brad.
- Have you ever been there?
- Have a Coke and a smile.
- If you came earlier, I wouldn’t have been late for dinner.
- What a wonderful day!
Take some time and imagine yourself saying these sentences? What is implied in them? What message do they carry? Check if you have guessed everything correctly.
Was it easy for you? Did you have a few mistakes? If you experience any struggles with learning the differences between these types of a sentence, do not get desperate about it. A constant practice in language exercises, reading interesting books and talking with native speakers will increase your efficiency in faster learning greatly!