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A sentence is a group of words that are put together to mean something. A sentence is the basic unit of language which expresses a complete thought. It does this by following the grammatical rules of syntax.

A complete sentence has at least a subject and a main verb to state (declare) a complete thought. Short example: Walker walks. A subject is the noun that is doing the main verb. The main verb is the verb that the subject is doing. In English and many other languages, the first word of a written sentence has a capital letter. At the end of the sentence there is a full stop or full point (American: 'period').

Phrases and clauses[edit | edit source]

A phrase or clause is part of a sentence.[1]p773–777 Above, the words 'at the end of the sentence' is a phrase; 'is' is a verb, and 'there' is an expletive. The subject of the sentence is "a full stop or full point (American: 'period')."

This is an example of a sentence:

  • The dog is happy.

In this sentence, 'The dog' is the subject, and 'is' is the verb.

This is an example of a phrase:

  • The happy dog

There is no verb, so we do not know anything about what the happy dog is doing. It is not a sentence.

A clause is a sentence within a sentence. Example:

  • They milked the cows, and then they made cheese and butter. This sentence has two co-ordinate (~equal) clauses, linked by 'and'.[1]p220

Types of sentence[edit | edit source]

  • A simple sentence is one clause. The cat is sleeping.
  • A compound sentence is two or more clauses. These clauses are joined together with conjunctions, punctuation, or both. The dog is happy, but the cat is sad.
  • A complex sentence is one clause with a relative clause. The dog, which is eating the bone, is happy.
  • A complex-compound sentence (or compound-complex sentence) is many clauses, at least one of which is a relative clause: The dog, which is eating the bone, is happy, but the cat is sad.

Sentences have different purposes:

  • A declarative sentence, or declaration, is the most common type of sentence. It tells something. It ends with a full stop . (The dog is happy.)
  • An interrogative sentence, or question, asks something. It ends with a question mark ? (Is the dog happy?)
  • An exclamatory sentence, or exclamation, says something out of the ordinary. It ends with an exclamation mark ! (That dog is the happiest dog I have ever seen!)
  • An imperative sentence, or command, tells someone to do something. (Give the dog a bone.)

Words that can be in sentences[edit | edit source]

Other pages[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 McArthur, Tom (ed) 1992. The Oxford companion to the English language. Oxford University Press.