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Meaning Of Sentences

We have learned that sentences are divided according to their meaning into four kinds: the declarative, the interrogative, the imperative, and the exclamatory; but we now wish to study their meaning more fully.

1. The declarative sentence states a fact in its most direct form. Whether the subject or the predicate or both are simple or modified, the declarative sentence is the most direct form of statement.

1. Birds sing.

2. Birds sing sweetly.

3. Happy birds sing sweetly.

4. Happy birds sing sweetly in the early morning.

5. The happy birds of the forest sing sweetly in the early morning.

6. The happy birds, that live in the forest, sing sweetly, when the first flush of dawn appears in the east.

7. The birds that live in the forest are happy; they sing sweetly when the first flush of dawn appears in the east.

All the above sentences are declarative because they state facts in the most direct form.

2. The interrogative sentence asks a question. Whether the question is simple or direct, or complex and involved, every sentence that asks a question is an interrogative sentence.

1. Who are you?

2. Where is he?

3. Which way did she go?

4. Did it ever seem possible that the United States would carry war into the Philippines?

5. Did you notice that the audience was restless, and that the speaker seemed confused?

The above sentences are interrogative because of their meaning or purpose. Each asks a question.

3. The imperative sentence expresses a command, a request, or an entreaty.

However much the form of a sentence may vary, if a command, a request, or an entreaty is expressed by the sentence, it must be classed as imperative.

1. Close the door. .

2. Come to-morrow.

3. Grant us thy peace.

4. Be just, though the heavens fall.

5. Capture that redoubt, if you would save the army.

6. Be honest in all your dealings; be just before God and man; but above all, be true to yourself.

7. To thine own self be true, and it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

These sentences are imperative, as the meaning expressed by each can be classed as a command, a request, or an entreaty.


The subject of an imperative sentence is usually omitted. In the sentence, John, close the door, John is independent of the sentence, and you, not expressed, is the subject of the verb close. Expressed in full, the sentence would read, John, you close the door.

4. The exclamatory sentence expresses some strong feeling or emotion.

1. Leave me at once!

2. Touch me not!

3. Drive on! we are pursued!

4. Come to me, O ye children!

5. Rest, soldier, rest!

6. How beautiful the long mild twilight, which like a silver clasp, unites to-day with yesterday!

7. How can we expect the fabric of government to stand if vicious materials are daily wrought into its framework!

Although some grammarians would classify such sentences under the declarative, the interrogative, or the imperative, the fact that each clearly expresses strong feeling, that would seem less forceful if placed in either of the above classes, is a sufficient reason for giving them a separate classification.

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