4 Types of Sentences to Use in Your Writing (With Examples)
Updated September 30, 2022
Most written pieces, such as essays, cover letters, and literary works, consist of multiple sentences. Strong writers can use sentences to communicate ideas effectively and help ensure their writing is easy to read. Whether you're a student with a writing assignment or a professional who wants to improve your writing skills, you can benefit from learning more about sentences. In this article, we discuss what a sentence is, explain four types of sentences you can use, share various sentence structures, and highlight why using different sentence types is important.
What is a sentence?
A sentence is a set of words that writers join together to communicate an idea. Sentences can vary in length and convey a statement, command, question, or exclamation. In English, a sentence contains the following elements:
Capital letter: Sentences begin with a capital letter. For example, The boy shut the door.
Punctuation: Writers indicate the end of sentences using a punctuation mark, such as a period, a question mark, or an exclamation point. For example, Do you prefer apples or bananas?
Subject: The subject of a sentence is the person, place, object, or idea performing an action. For example, Larry ran a marathon.
Predicate: A predicate is an action that the subject is performing. For example, Michele ate an apple.
Proper word order: Sentences follow the subject, verb, and object word order. For example, He grabbed his bag, where he is the subject, grabbed is the verb, and his bag is the object.
Complete idea: Proper sentences are complete ideas, which writers call independent clauses. They don't require additional information.
4 types of sentences to use in your writing
There are four types of sentences that you can use in your writing, including:
1. Declarative sentences
You can use a declarative sentence to make a statement, offer an explanation, provide a fact, or share information. Typically, declarative sentences appear in writing more than the other three kinds of sentences. When you write a declarative sentence, use the present tense, ensure the subject comes before the verb, and always end the sentences with a period. Here are five examples of declarative sentences:
That bee is yellow and black.
I love you.
She wants to drink lemonade, but she doesn't know how to make it.
While dog food contains meat, cat food usually contains fish.
Although the amusement park is clean, the entrance fee is expensive, and three rides are not operating.
2. Interrogative sentences
You can use an interrogative sentence to ask a question. Typically, this kind of sentence begins with words like who, what, when, where, why, whose, whom, and which. You can also begin these sentences with a verb, in which case the response is likely yes or no. For example, Remember that time at camp? is an interrogative sentence that begins with a verb. Be sure to signal the end of all interrogative sentences with a question mark. These sentences still require a noun and verb to be complete. Here are five examples of interrogative sentences:
Why are bees yellow and black?
Are Don and Deb getting married next summer?
I'm unsure what they look like, so can you show me their pictures on social media?
Did you eat the pie because you forgot to eat lunch?
Is the money in the bank, and is it available for withdrawal, or did you decide to keep the money for yourself?
3. Exclamatory sentences
Use an exclamatory sentence to express a powerful emotion, such as anger, pain, or surprise. While they provide information similar to declarative sentences, exclamatory sentences end with an exclamation mark. You can use exclamatory sentences when writing dialogue. For example, Mary's face flushed crimson, and she seethed, "Mark! Don't you dare!". Typically, writers only use this kind of sentence in creative writing or narrative essays. Avoid using exclamatory sentences in most formal and academic writing assignments. Here are five examples of exclamatory sentences:
That bee just stung me!
I can't believe we won! Let's celebrate!
Kyle didn't expect to get into Western Toronto Academy, but he just received his acceptance letter!
I get really worried when I see you driving without a seatbelt!
Roger is always mad because he never wins in basketball, but it's because he never practises!
4. Imperative sentences
You can use an imperative sentence to express a command, invitation, instruction, request, or warning. Writers can use imperative sentences to offer friendly advice, forceful commands, or explain how to perform a task. Typically, imperative sentences end with a period unless it's a firm command, in which it may end in an exclamation mark. This kind of sentence doesn't have a subject, but is a direction the speaker gives to the reader. For example, in the sentence, First, place the dishes on the table, the speaker directs the implied subject to place the dishes on the table. Here are five examples:
Don't swat at the bee.
Stop shouting right now!
They're discussing his behaviour with the principal, but please don't worry.
Since the baby didn't sleep last night, please ensure she naps during the day.
Don't drive past midnight or stay up too late, even if you don't have school tomorrow.
4 types of sentence structures
There are also four types of sentence structures you can use in your writing, including:
1. Simple sentences
Simple sentences include a subject and a predicate. They're complete thoughts, free of dependent and subordinate clauses. Simple sentences can also contain objects and prepositional phrases. Here are five examples of simple sentences:
Janice ate dinner.
They organized their books by colour.
He studied biology all night.
The cheetah ate the rat.
2. Compound sentences
Compound sentences include a minimum of two independent clauses. Although you might separate the clauses into two different sentences, they can form a compound sentence when joined. You can use a comma and a coordinating junction to achieve this, such as or, and, or but. Conversely, you can also join the two sentences using a semicolon. Here are five examples of compound sentences:
Lucas finished his chemistry homework, and he studied for his French exam.
She cited her sources by the author's last name; then updated her reference list.
They tried to leave the house before the traffic worsened, but they encountered traffic anyway.
Ali went to the mall, but Lexie went to the supermarket, and I went to the beach.
We went to see the newborn lion cubs at the zoo; then, we went to a pizza restaurant for lunch.
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3. Complex sentences
Complex sentences include an independent clause and at least one dependent clause, also called a subordinate clause. A dependent clause consists of a subject and a verb, but isn't a complete thought. For example, when dinner is ready, is a dependent clause. In a complex sentence, when the dependent clause precedes the independent clause, use a comma to join them. Conversely, if the independent clause comes before the dependent clause, use subordinating conjunctions, like how, if, and when to join the clauses.
Here are five examples of complex sentences:
Although she didn't study for the geometry exam, she earned the highest mark in her class.
While Geoffrey likes basketball, he prefers hockey.
Whenever it snows, the dog won't go outside.
The students watched the entire documentary because they thought it was interesting.
I like to eat chocolate while I watch television.
4. Compound-complex sentences
Compound-complex sentences are sentences that include a minimum of three clauses. These sentences have two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. Typically, these sentences are long and contain a lot of information. Use a comma followed by a coordinating conjunction to make compound-complex sentences. Here are five examples of compound-complex sentences:
She finished her lunch, but she still ate her dessert even though she said she was full.
Although Roger organized his books by colour, he decided to arrange them by the author's last name, and he followed the system the librarian taught him.
Although I love watching movies, I don't like scary movies, but my brother loves them.
Mackenzie's grandfather went to the mall because it's her birthday, and he bought her a gift.
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Why using different sentence types and structures in your writing is important
When you write, it's important to use various types of sentences and sentence structures. This writing practice can help you communicate your message effectively and avoid confusing your readers. For example, in the sentence, Go away, Penelope!, if a writer accidentally uses a period instead of an exclamation mark, the reader may not realize that a character is shouting. Instead of the reader realizing the character is angry, they might think they're sad or upset. Varying your sentence structures can make reading your writing easier and more enjoyable. For example, you may follow a simple sentence with a compound-complex sentence.
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