Writing: What Is a Sentence?


In the field of writing, everything you put down on paper or type out on the screen revolves around a crucial element – the sentence. Whether you're bringing a compelling story to life, explaining a complex concept, or arguing a point, sentences form the building blocks of your thoughts, ideas, and arguments. In this tutorial, we will explore what exactly a sentence is, its types, fundamental rules, and how you can construct them properly to convey your messages clearly.

Definition of a Sentence

A sentence is a set of words that convey a complete thought. It has three major attributes:

  • It begins with a capital letter.
  • It contains a subject and predicate.
  • It ends with a punctuation mark, which could be a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation point (!).
  • For instance: 'Sarah is reading a book.'

    This is a sentence because it meets all the aforementioned conditions: It begins with a capital letter ('S' in Sarah), it has a subject (Sarah) and predicate (is reading a book), and it ends in a period.

    Subject and Predicate

    To understand sentences, it's important to grasp what a subject and predicate are:

  • The Subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about. In our previous example, 'Sarah' is the subject.
  • The Predicate is what is said about the subject. The predicate in our previous example is 'is reading a book.'
  • Types of Sentences

    There are four types of sentences: Declarative, Interrogative, Imperative, and Exclamatory.

    Declarative Sentences

    A declarative sentence makes a statement or expresses an opinion. They are the most common type of sentences and end with a period.

    For instance: 'My cat is adorable.'

    Interrogative Sentences

    An interrogative sentence is one that asks a direct question and ends with a question mark.

    For instance: 'Are you going to the concert tonight?'

    Imperative Sentences

    An imperative sentence gives a direct command, makes a request, or offers advice. It often ends with a period, but can sometimes end with an exclamation mark.

    For instance: 'Please close the door.'

    Exclamatory Sentences

    An exclamatory sentence communicates a strong emotion, surprise, or excitement and ends with an exclamation mark.

    For instance: 'That's amazing!'

    Rules for Writing Sentences

    Writing a sentence isn't just about putting words together. Certain rules govern its formation:

  • Ensure Subject-Verb Agreement: The verb in a sentence must agree with its subject in number. If the subject is singular, the verb should also be singular. If the subject is plural, the verb should be plural too.
  • For example, 'She sings well' (singular) and 'They sing well' (plural).

  • Proper Use of Tenses: Be consistent with the use of tenses in a sentence. If you start a sentence in the present tense, stick to it throughout.
  • Incorrect: 'Sarah watched TV and eats popcorn.'

    Correct: 'Sarah watched TV and ate popcorn.'

  • Use Correct Punctuation: Using correct punctuation at the end of a sentence is crucial. For example, a declarative sentence ends with a period, a question with a question mark, and a sentence expressing strong emotion with an exclamation mark.
  • Conclusion

    Understanding what a sentence is, and mastering its structure and rules, is fundamental for effective and clear communication. Remember, a sentence is more than just a string of words: It is a powerful tool that allows you to express your thoughts, emotions, and ideas.

    With practice and adherence to the rules, you can avoid common mistakes and craft sentences that accurately convey your message. Happy writing!

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