Declarative Sentence

by Craig Shrives

What Is a Declarative Sentence?

A declarative sentence is a sentence that makes a statement. For example:
  • I am an expert in French cheese.
  • Sarah knows your brother.
  • Pearls melt in vinegar.
A declarative sentence does not ask a question, give an order, or express strong emotion. So, these are not declarative sentences:
  • Do you like cheese?
  • (This is a question. It is an interrogative sentence.)
  • Pass the cheese.
  • (This gives an order. It is an imperative sentence.)
  • I hate cheese!
  • (This expresses strong emotion. It is an exclamatory sentence.)
A declarative sentence simply makes a statement (or a declaration). In other words, it passes on information. A declarative sentence always ends with a period (full stop).

Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence.

Table of Contents

  • Examples of Declarative Sentences
  • The Word Order in a Declarative Sentence
  • Video Lesson
  • Other Sentence Types
  • Why Declarative Sentences Are Important
  • Printable Test
declarative sentence

Examples of Declarative Sentences

Here are some examples of declarative sentences:
  • Five million people are at risk.
  • London is the capital of England.
  • I am no wine connoisseur, but I know what I like.
  • She asked whether I liked her dress.
  • (Although this is an indirect question, it is still a statement and, therefore, a declarative sentence.)
Notice that none of these sentences asks a question, gives an order, or expresses strong emotion. Look again at the last example. It doesn't ask a question. It makes a statement. There's more on this to come.

The Word Order in a Declarative Sentence

The usual word order for a simple declarative sentence is subject-verb-object-place-time.

For example:
  • The rabbits eat the vegetables in the garden in the early morning.
  • Subject: The rabbits
    Verb: eat
    Direct Object: vegetables
    Place: in the garden
    Time: in the early morning
This is by no means a rule. Writing would be boring if it only consisted of simple sentences with the same word order. Here is an example of a complex sentence:
  • Just before the sun rises, the rabbits eat the vegetables in the garden.
  • (This is a complex sentence, i.e., one with a main clause and a subordinate clause. You can see that the word order is different (specifically, the time comes first). You will notice, however, that the subject-verb word order is maintained in both clauses ("the sun rises" and "the rabbits eat"). This is a strong trait of the declarative-sentence structure.)
Conversely, in an interrogative sentence (i.e., a question), the word order is usually switched to verb-subject. Similarly, this is a strong trait of an interrogative sentence.

Look at these two examples:
  • Rachel is Irish.
  • (This is a declarative sentence. The word order is subject-verb.)
  • Is Rachel Irish?
  • (This is an interrogative sentence. The word order is verb-subject.)
Let's look at this example again:
  • She asked whether I liked her dress.
  • (The word order of "whether I liked her dress" is subject-verb ("I"-"liked"). This tells us that it is not a question. It is, in fact, an indirect question.)
Read more about indirect questions. Here is a video summarizing this lesson on declarative sentences.

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

Other Sentence Types

Here are some examples of other sentence types:

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:
  • Fetch my umbrella!
  • Please bring my umbrella.
Interrogative Sentence
An interrogative sentence asks a question. It ends with a question mark (?). For example:
  • Can you find my umbrella?
Exclamatory Sentence
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark (!). For example:
  • You've broken my umbrella!
Declarative sentences are by far the most common type of sentence. For that reason, if you're learning or teaching English, it is worth learning how they are structured.

For native English speakers, there are two common writing issues related to declarative sentences.

(Issue 1) Don't use a question mark with a declarative sentence (even if it looks like a question).

The most common mistake related to declarative sentences is using a question mark at the end of a sentence that isn't a question.
  • The boss has asked when the party starts? wrong cross
  • I wonder if I can reach it? wrong cross
  • Mark wants to know whether he was selected? wrong cross
  • (These are not questions. There should be no question marks.)
Look at the word order:
  • "The boss has asked..." (subject-verb)
  • "I wonder..." (subject-verb)
  • "Mark wants..." (subject-verb)
These are clearly declarative sentences not questions (i.e., interrogative sentences).

Even the word order in the indirect-question parts of the sentences is subject-verb:
  • "the party starts" (subject-verb)
  • "I can reach" (subject-verb)
  • "he was selected" (subject-verb)
Read more about indirect questions.

(Issue 2) Get the word order right in an indirect question.

This point overlaps with Issue 1. Remember that the word order in an indirect question is the same as for a declarative sentence.

For example:

Question Word Order:
  • Where is he?
  • (The question word order is verb-subject: verb (is) then subject (he).)
Statement Word Order:
  • He is here.
  • (The statement word order is subject-verb: subject (he) then verb (is).)
Indirect Question Word Order:
  • I want to know where he is. correct tick
  • (The word order is subject-verb: subject (he) then verb (is), i.e., the same as for a declarative sentence.)
  • I want to know where is he. wrong cross
  • (It is a mistake to use question word order in an indirect question.)

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