1. What is a Declarative Sentence?
A declarative sentence is a sentence that makes a statement – in other words, it declares something. This kind of sentence is used to share information – for instance, stating your point of view or a fact. Of the four kinds of sentences (declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory), it is by far the most common.
Think about your communication in daily life. Most of our communication is to give other people information. We tell people what we want, we give them answers to questions, we share ideas we have, tell people our opinions… in short, we are making declarations about the world as we see it. This kind of communication is what declarative sentences are for.
Do we only communicate to make declarations? No, of course not – we also ask questions, have emotional outbursts, and say things with a lot of emotion behind them. This type of communication is done with interrogative, imperative, or exclamatory sentences. But most of the time, people communicate by simply stating what is on their mind.
2. Examples of Declarative Sentences
Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore. – Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz
Dorothy speaks this declarative sentence to her dog after they arrive in Oz. She is informing Toto what she believes. (Whether or not Toto understands Dorothy is debatable.)
Elementary, my dear Watson. -Sherlock Holmes
This example for declarative sentence was often used by Holmes to inform his assistant, Watson, that the solution to a mystery was quite simple to discover. He is stating his point of view.
I don’t like to gamble, but if there’s one thing I’m willing to bet on, it’s myself. -Beyoncé
In this sentence, Beyoncé declares her confidence in herself. She is stating that she will take risks because she believes in her abilities.
3. Parts of a Declarative Sentence.
A subject is what the sentence is about. It is a noun or pronoun, and in a declarative sentence it comes at the beginning of the main clause.
A predicate includes the verb plus any other information in the clause or sentence.
Examples (subject in red, predicate in green)
- The dog is sleeping on the couch.
- Studying makes taking a test easier.
- Amphibians spend part of their lives in the water and part on land.
So, what part of declarative sentence makes it different from the other kinds of sentences? The end punctuation: a declarative sentence ends with a period.
4. How to Write a Declarative Sentence
a. End in a Period
As mentioned in part 3, a declarative sentence ends with a period. If a sentence ends with a different punctuation mark, you are looking at a different kind of sentence.
I am hungry
This simple sentence is a declarative sentence. But watch what happens if we change the end punctuation mark:
I am hungry!
This simple sentence is no longer a declarative sentence – the exclamation point makes it an exclamatory sentence! A declarative sentence is simply a statement without a strong emotional component. On the other hand, the exclamation point at the end of an exclamatory sentence expresses that that speaker or writer has a strong feeling or emotion attached to it. So, declarative sentences cannot end in exclamation marks!
b. Just Share Information
Please don’t give the dog chocolate.
This is an imperative sentence and should not be confused with a declarative sentence. One of the functions of an imperative sentence is to make requests. So although the example sentence ends in a period, it is making a request by using the word “don’t”. It would be used, for instance, if you were creating the rules for a new dog sitter. So this sentence is not just sharing information, and it is not a declarative sentence.
c. The Subject Comes before the Verb
Another point to notice is that in a declarative sentence, the subject comes before the verb. This is different than an interrogative sentence, where the verb often comes before the subject.
Penelope is from a small town.
This is another simple, declarative sentence.
Is Penelope from a small town?
Here, two things have changed: the end punctuation mark is now a question mark, and the order of the subject (Penelope) and the verb (is) has changed. Therefore, the second sentence is an interrogative, not a declarative, sentence. So when writing a sentence, remember the correct word order.
Overall, the declarative sentence is by far the most common type of sentence. You can read entire pages of text and find no other kind of sentence. When read aloud, their tone is always relaxed and conversational.