Sentence: Definition and Examples (2023)

by Craig Shrives

This Page Includes...

  • Video Sentence: Definition and Examples (1)
  • Sentence: Definition and Examples (2)
  • Why "Sentences" Are Important Sentence: Definition and Examples (3)
  • Key Points Sentence: Definition and Examples (4)

What Is a Sentence? (with Examples)

A sentence is a group of words giving a complete thought. A sentence must contain a subject and a verb (although one may be implied).

A More Formal Definition of Sentence

A sentence is a set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command, and consisting of a main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses.

Oxford Dictionary

The Four Types of Sentence

Sentence: Definition and Examples (5)

A sentence can convey a statement, a question, an exclamation, or a command. There are four types of sentence:

(1) Declarative Sentence

A declarative sentence states a fact and ends with a period (full stop). For example:

  • He has every attribute of a dog except loyalty. (Politician Thomas P Gore)
  • I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult. (Comedian Rita Rudner)
  • (Remember that a statement which contains an indirect question (like this example) is not a question.)

(2) Imperative Sentence

An imperative sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an exclamation mark or a period (full stop). For example:

(Video) What is Sentence | Type of Sentences | Four Types

  • When a dog runs at you, whistle for him. (Philosopher Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862)

(3) Interrogative Sentence

An interrogative sentence asks a question and ends with a question mark. For example:

  • Who knew that dog saliva can mend a broken heart? (Author Jennifer Neal)

(4) Exclamatory Sentence

An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark. For example:

  • In Washington, it's dog eat dog. In academia, it's exactly the opposite! (Politician Robert Reich)

The Subject Could Be Implied.

In an imperative sentence (an order) or an interrogative sentence (a question), the subject or verb is often implied.

  • Run!
  • Go.
  • (This is the shortest sentence in English.)
  • Why?

The shortest sentence without an implied subject or verb is "I am" or "I go."

The Four Sentence Structures

A sentence can consist of a single clause or several clauses. When a sentence is a single clause, it is called a simple sentence (and the clause is called an independent clause). A sentence must contain at least one independent clause. Below are the four types of sentence structure (with their independent clauses shaded):

(1) Complex Sentence

A complex sentence has an independent clause and at least one dependent clause. For example:

  • Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggie" until you can find a rock. (Actor Will Rogers, 1879-1935)
  • When you're on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. (Cartoonist Peter Steiner)

(2) Compound Sentence

A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses. For example:

  • Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war. (Playwright William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)

(3) Simple Sentence

(Video) What is Sentence | Definition of Sentence in English

A simple sentence has just one independent clause. For example:

  • You can't surprise a man with a dog. (Screenwriter Cindy Chupack)

(4) Compound-Complex Sentence

A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. For example:

  • When a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often, but if a man bites a dog, that is news. (Editor John B Bogart)

Why Understanding Sentences Is Important

There are four great reasons to understand sentence structures and the types of the sentence.

(Reason 1) Avoid the run-on sentence.

By far the most common mistake made by people with otherwise sound writing skills is the run-on sentence. Typically, this error is caused by writing a sentence, putting a comma, and then writing another sentence.

  • I love the mountains, they remind me of home. Sentence: Definition and Examples (6)
  • Love is so short, forgetting is so long. Sentence: Definition and Examples (7) (Chilean politician Pablo Neruda)

You cannot end a sentence with a comma. These should both be two sentences (or rewritten to punctuate them correctly). Remember that a sentence contains a subject and a verb and gives a complete thought. The criteria for what constitutes a sentence are satisfied twice in each example.

The run-on sentence usually occurs because writers feel a period (full stop) is too much of speed bump between their closely related sentences. The jolt of a period can be smoothed with other punctuation (but not a comma). Here are some options:

  • Don't play hide and seek; no one would look for you.
  • (You can smooth the jolt of a period by merging your two sentences into one with a semicolon.)
  • I like a woman with a head on her shoulders – I hate necks. (Actor Steve Martin)
  • (You can smooth the jolt of a period by merging your two sentences into one with a dash. A dash looks quite stark, and it looks a little informal.)
  • My friend is a procrastinator…he's afraid of Saturday the 14th.
  • (You can smooth the jolt of a period by merging your two sentences into one with three dots (or ellipses). Using three dots creates a pause for effect, and it looks informal.)

(Reason 2) Punctuate your sentences correctly.

Understanding the four sentence structures assists with deciding how to punctuate sentences. More specifically, it assists with the following two common decisions:

(1) Deciding whether to use a comma with the subordinate clause in a complex sentence.

A complex sentence comprises an independent clause (shaded) and at least one subordinate clause. When the subordinate clause is at the front and acts like an adverb – typically stating a time (e.g., When I was six), a place (e.g., Where I live), or a condition (e.g., If I were you) – then it is a common practice to offset it with a comma. When such a clause appears at the back, it is usually not offset with a comma. Here are some examples:

  • When I was six, I had a wind-up Evil Knievel motorbike.
  • I had a wind-up Evil Knievel motorbike when I was six.
  • When you're on the internet,nobody knows you're a dog. (Cartoonist Peter Steiner)
  • Nobody knows you're a dog when you're on the internet.

Read more about adverbial phrases and adverbial clauses.

(2) Deciding whether to put a comma before a conjunction.

A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses (highlighted), which are usually joined with a conjunction (e.g., and, or, but). A conjunction (bolded) that joins two things is not normally preceded with a comma, but a conjunction that joins two independent clauses in a compound sentence is.

(Video) What is a Simple Sentence? | Definition and Examples in English

  • Lee likes pies and cakes.
  • (There is no comma before and. This is a simple sentence.)
  • Lee likes pies, and he likes cakes.
  • (This time, there is a comma before and. This is a compound sentence.)
  • Go, and never darken my towels again. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
  • (Remember that Go is the shortest sentence in English.)

Let's examine this point a little more. Look at these two examples:

  • I would say, "I'm alone, but I'm not lonely." Sentence: Definition and Examples (8) (Actor Bruce Willis)
  • (Here, but is preceded with a comma because it's joining two independent clauses.)
  • I would say, "I'm alone but not lonely." Sentence: Definition and Examples (9)
  • (Here, but is not preceded with a comma because it's joining two adjectives (alone and not lonely) not two independent clauses.)

Here's a tip: Look carefully for the subject and verb in the text after your conjunction to confirm the text is an independent clause. If it is, whack a comma in. If it isn't, don't use a comma.

  • Non-rabid wolves have attacked and killed people (mainly children), but this is rare. They live away from people and have developed a fear of humans from hunters and shepherds.
  • They live away from people, and they have developed a fear of humans from hunters and shepherds.
  • (Compare this compound sentence with the simple sentence (the last one) in the example above. When you add the word they after the and, the second half becomes an independent clause, and a comma is then required.)

Be aware that a compound sentence can have more than two independent clauses.

  • Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. (Playwright Joseph Heller)
  • (This is a compound sentence with three independent clauses. The first independent clause ends with just a comma. This is an occasion when that's allowable.)
  • "Veni, vidi, vici" [I came, I saw,I conquered.] (Roman emperor Julius Caesar)
  • (This is another occasion when you have to say it's acceptable to use just a comma to separate independent clauses (an error known as a run-on sentence or comma splice). Grammarians hate the comma splice so much, you will often see "Veni, vidi, vici" translated "As I came; I saw; I conquered" and even "I came, I saw, and I conquered.")

Read more about commas with conjunctions.

(Reason 3) As the subject of an imperative sentence is "you," you can't use "myself."

  • If you have any questions, email myself or your line manager. Sentence: Definition and Examples (10)
  • Please write to myself with any suggestions. Sentence: Definition and Examples (11)

The subject of an imperative sentence is "you," which is usually implied (i.e., not said or written). This means you cannot use "myself," which requires the subject to be "I." Writers often use "myself," believing it sounds more highbrow. It's wrong. It should be "me."

This is also covered in the entry on reflexive pronouns.

(Reason 4) Don't use a question mark with a declarative sentence that includes an indirect question.

  • She asked whether I loved her? Sentence: Definition and Examples (12)
  • I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult? Sentence: Definition and Examples (13) (Comedian Rita Rudner)

The bolded texts are indirect questions. These are declarative sentences (i.e., statements) not questions. They should end in periods (full stops).

Video Lesson

Here is a 16-minute video summarizing this lesson on sentences.

Sentence: Definition and Examples (14)Video on complex sentences

Sentence: Definition and Examples (15)Video on compound sentences

(Video) What is Sentence | Definition of Sentence in English

Sentence: Definition and Examples (16)Video on simple sentences

Key Points

  • You can't write a sentence, put a comma, and then write another sentence. That's an error called a run-on sentence or comma splice.
  • If you have a fronted adverbial, use a comma.
  • Don't use a comma if your adverbial is at the back.
  • Use a comma before a conjunction (e.g., and, or, but) that joins two independent clauses.
    • I like tea but hate coffee.
    • I like tea, but I hate coffee.
  • Be careful when using myself in an imperative sentence.
    • If you're approached by any journalists, send them to myself. Sentence: Definition and Examples (17)
  • Don't be tempted to put a question mark at the end of a declarative sentence that contains an indirect question.
    • I wonder if John will win? Sentence: Definition and Examples (18)
    • (This should end in a period (full stop). It's not a question.)

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See Also

Can you start a sentence with a conjunction (e.g., and, but)?What is the subject of a sentence?What are verbs?What is a declarative sentence?When do you use periods (full stops)?What is an indirect question?What is an imperative sentence?What is an interrogative sentence?What is an exclamatory sentence?What is an independent clause?What is a complex sentence?What is a dependent clause?What is a compound sentence?What is a simple sentence?Glossary of grammatical terms


What is sentence give Example answer? ›

A sentence is a set 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 basic rules of syntax. For example:"Ali is walking".

What is a sentence for enough? ›

Adverb I couldn't run fast enough to catch up with her. She's old enough to know better. Are you rich enough to retire? That's good enough for me.

What is sentence definition short answer? ›

A sentence is a grammatically complete idea. All sentences have a noun or pronoun component called the subject, and a verb part called the predicate.

How do you remove enough from a sentence? ›

enough + noun

I have enough time. There are enough seats in the car, you should come! We have enough money, let's buy it! And to make these sentences negative we add 'not' – usually before the main verb.

How do you use enough is enough? ›

something you say when you want something to stop: Enough is enough - I don't want to argue with you any more. Our business has been absorbing the price rises, but enough is enough.

What is a simple sentence give 10 examples? ›

A simple sentence has the most basic elements that make it a sentence: a subject, a verb, and a completed thought. Examples of simple sentences include the following: Joe waited for the train. "Joe" = subject, "waited" = verb. The train was late.

What are the 4 kinds of sentences with examples with answers? ›

There are four types of sentences, i.e. Assertive/Declarative, Imperative, Exclamatory and Interrogative.

Where is sentence example? ›

[M] [T] Where did you find that strange thing? [M] [T] She asked him if he knew where I lived. [M] [T] She told him where to put the suitcase. [M] [T] This is the house where she used to live.

What word means enough? ›

Some common synonyms of enough are adequate, competent, and sufficient. While all these words mean "being what is necessary or desirable," enough is less exact in suggestion than sufficient. do you have enough food?

Would be enough in a sentence? ›

But if I am a thing so constituted as to live only to now, would that be enough?" I reflected on what I had seen and done, and concluded that it would be enough.

What is a sentence for Had enough? ›

If you say that you have had enough, you mean that you are unhappy with a situation and you want it to stop. I've had enough–there are limits even for the patience of a saint! I had had enough of other people for one night.

What is a sentence definition for kids? ›

A sentence is a group of words that forms a complete thought. A sentence begins with a capital letter, ends with an end mark and has a subject and a predicate.

How do you replace enough in a sentence? ›

Here are some examples:
  1. She's too sad these days. I wonder what's wrong.
  2. I don't have enough sugar. Let's go to the supermarket.
  3. You're driving too slowly!
  4. There are too many students in this class. It should be smaller.
  5. This test is difficult enough already!
  6. We have too much pollution in the world.
Mar 6, 2019

What type of word is enough? ›

Enough is an adjective that describes something that is adequate for an intended purpose. Enough is also used as an adverb to mean sufficiently or fully. Enough also has senses as a pronoun and an interjection.

Is enough a negative? ›

Enough is used in negative sentences to mean less than sufficient or less than necessary. You're not working fast enough, you won't finish on time. Sorry, I haven't got enough food for everyone. Not enough of my friends are coming to the party.

Was enough in a sentence? ›

[M] [T] She was stupid enough to believe him. [M] [T] She was stupid enough to go out with him.

What is a 50 word sentence? ›

A 50-word sentence is used to get you to summarize a topic we are discussing clearly and correctly. I know a 50-word sentence is a run-on sentence and would make English teachers cringe.

What are the five basic sentence? ›

Most sentences in English are constructed using one of the following five patterns:
  • Subject–Verb.
  • Subject–Verb–Object.
  • Subject–Verb–Adjective.
  • Subject–Verb–Adverb.
  • Subject–Verb–Noun.

What are 5 examples complex sentences? ›

Examples of Complex Sentences
  • Because he was late again, he would be docked a day's pay.
  • While I am a passionate basketball fan, I prefer football.
  • Although she was considered smart, she failed all her exams.
  • Whenever it rains, I like to wear my blue coat.
Nov 25, 2019

How many types of sentences are there answer? ›

There are four types of sentences in the English language: declarative, exclamatory, imperative, and interrogatory.

What are the different types of sentences explain with examples? ›

The 4 English Sentence Types
1declarativestatement: It tells us something
2interrogativequestion: It asks us something
3imperativecommand: It tells us to do something
4exclamativeexclamation: It expresses surprise

What are the 3 main types of sentences? ›

Three essential types of sentence are declarative sentences (which are statements), interrogative sentences (which are questions), and imperative sentences (which are orders). Join us as we give examples of each!

How can we make a sentence? ›

A sentence follows Subject + Verb + Object word order.

Why example sentences? ›

Why as a question word. We can use why to ask about reasons and explanations: Why did he leave home when he was 16? Why didn't you tell Gemma?

Can a sentence begin with where? ›

There is no dust where the wardrobe is. Used as a subordinating conjunction in your sentence, where means: at, in, or to the place indicated --Webster's. In your sentence "the place indicated" is where the wardrobe is kept, maybe an air-tight closet, well sealed to keep out the dust and moisture.

When something is enough? ›

Enough means as much as you need or as much as is necessary. They had enough cash for a one-way ticket. If you say that something is enough, you mean that you do not want it to continue any longer or get any worse.

How much enough is enough meaning? ›

used to say that one wants something to stop because one can no longer accept or deal with it. I don't mind lending her a bit of money now and then, but enough is enough!

What word mean not enough? ›

deficient, faulty, inadequate, incomplete, meager, poor, scant, scarce, unsatisfactory, bereft, defective, destitute, devoid, drained, dry, failing, imperfect, incapable, incommensurate, incompetent.

Would you be kind enough example? ›

For example

"Would you be so kind as to help me cross the road?" "Of course. May I take your hand?" "Would you be kind enough to bring me a pot of tea, please?"

Could get enough meaning? ›

DEFINITIONS1. to like something very much and want a lot of it. Fans of horror movies just can't get enough of this sort of stuff.

Would you be good enough meaning? ›

formal used to ask someone very politely to do something Would you be good enough to help me with my bags?

Is not Enough example? ›

The phrase “not enough” is obviously a negative form of that – and it shows that things are not satisfactory! For example: “There is not enough bread for the entire group to eat.” It is usually used to indicate that the level is less than satisfactory – it would not be used if it was in excess.

What type of adverb is enough? ›

Adverbs of degree are usually placed before the adjective, adverb, or verb that they modify, although there are some exceptions. The words "too", "enough", "very", and "extremely" are examples of adverbs of degree.

Is enough positive or negative? ›

We use enough to express that something is or isn't the right degree or amount. We put it after an adjective or verb. It's adjective + enough in positive sentences and questions or not + adjective + enough in negative sentences. Is it warm enough for you in here?

Was I not good enough meaning? ›

used for saying that you are not satisfied with what someone has done or is offering you.

Is good enough correct? ›

These must be modified with an adverb, and well is the adverb; good is the adjective. Therefore all your sentences should use well.

Were kind enough meaning? ›

formal. used to make a request. Would you be kind enough to show me the way?

What means Enough said? ›

idiom. informal. used in speech to say that one understands what someone is telling him or her and no further information is needed. "Is he in good condition?" "Well, he ran in a marathon last month." "Enough said."

What is 100 words in sentences? ›

How Many Sentences Is 100 Words? 100 words is about 5-7 sentences. A sentence typically has 15–20 words.

How long is a 1 sentence? ›

Sentences should have less than 30–40 words. Short sentences can quickly and reliably relay information. However, varying sentence length is important because sentences of the same length can be monotonous and bore your reader. Long sentences are acceptable in the appropriate setting, like creative writing.

What is a 7 Up sentence? ›

A 7-up sentence is a sentence that has 7 words or more (max 10 words typically). Teach your students to add more detail and interest to their sentences.

What are the 12 types of sentence? ›

  • Types of Sentences. Complex Sentences. Simple Sentences. Compound Sentences. Declarative Sentence. Exclamatory Sentences. Imperative Sentence. Interrogative Sentences.
  • Sentence Structure.
  • Phrases. Adjective Phrase. Appositive Phrase. Adverbial Phrase. Noun Phrase. Participle Phrase. Phrases and Clauses. Prepositional Phrases.

What are 10 types of sentences? ›

10 Sentence Structure Types You Should Recognize With Examples
  • Simple Sentence Structure: Definition: ...
  • Periodic/Interruptive Sentence Structure: Definition: ...
  • Cumulative/Loose Sentence Structure: ...
  • Inverted Sentence Structure: ...
  • Parallel/Balanced Sentence Structure: ...
  • Tricolon/Triadic Sentence: ...
  • Anaphora: ...
  • Rhetorical Question:

What is in sentence structure? ›

Sentence structure is how the basic grammatical elements (a subject, predicate, and sometimes direct or indirect objects) of a sentence are put together. The rules for how a sentence is constructed are simple but firm. These include the necessity for a subject, predicate, and object (in that order) in every sentence.

What is simple and compound sentence? ›

RETEACHING: A simple sentence. is a sentence that expresses only one complete thought. A compound sentence is a sentence made up of two simple sentences joined by a comma and the word and, but, or or.

What are the 4 types of compound sentences? ›

Different Types of Compound Sentences
  • Coordinating Conjunction and a Comma. The most common way independent clauses in a compound sentence are linked is with a coordinating conjunction and a comma. ...
  • Semicolon. Semicolons join two independent clauses without any joining words like conjunctions. ...
  • Colon. ...
  • Dash.
Sep 9, 2019

What is imperative sentence with example? ›

An imperative sentence is a sentence that expresses a direct command, request, invitations, warning, or instruction. Imperative sentences do not have a subject; instead, a directive is given to an implied second person. For example, the sentence “Wash the dinner plates” commands the implied subject to wash the dishes.

What are the 5 kinds of sentences with examples? ›

  • Complex Sentences.
  • Simple Sentences.
  • Compound Sentences.
  • Declarative Sentence.
  • Exclamatory Sentences.
  • Imperative Sentence.
  • Interrogative Sentences.

What is a sentence give example for kids? ›

He reads a book. The dog barks. The cat sits on the mat. I hop on one foot.

What are the 7 types of sentences with examples? ›

Answer: There are 8-types of sentences on the basis of function and structure are Declarative Sentence, Interrogative Sentence, Exclamatory Sentence, Imperative Sentence, Simple sentence, Compound Sentence, Complex sentence, and Compound -Complex sentence.

What is a sentence 4th grade? ›

A sentence is a group of words that forms a complete thought. It has both a subject and a verb. My friends walk along the path. A sentence fragment is a group of words that does not express a complete thought.

What is a sentence 5th grade? ›

A sentence starts with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark. Usually, a sentence contains a subject and always contains a verb. It can also include a predicate - what is said about the subject.

What is a complete sentence definition for kids? ›

Answer: It must have a subject and a predicate. An example of a simple, complete sentence is “She sleeps.” She is the subject; sleeps is the predicate. In this instance, the complete predicate is the verb sleeps.


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