Types of Sentences in English with Definitions and Examples

Types of Sentences in English with Definitions and Examples


Welcome here! I want to show you the Types of Sentences in English with Definitions and Examples. The sentence is the largest grammatical unit there is in the English. Sentences comprise clauses and clauses comprise phrases or groups. Groups or phrases comprises words while words comprise morphemes. The morpheme is the smallest indivisible but meaningful grammatical unit we have in English.

Arrangement of Sentences in English

There are ways in which sentences in English have been arranged. The roles sentences play in utterance determines their arrangements; this arrangement has to do with types of sentences based on function. Another way we organize English sentences is on the basis of their structure or the way they appear; this is types of sentences based on structure.

Other Types of Sentences

Apart from structural classification and functional classification of sentences, there are other divisions of sentences based on their linguistic nature. We have the minor sentence and we also have the fragmentary sentence. This post will considered each of these Types of sentences with their examples for easy comprehension.  Let us see the different divisions…

What is a Sentence?

The sentence in English has various definitions but we shall examine it from four different perspectives. These include: the orthographic, semantic, grammatical or syntactic and the phonological levels. At the orthographic level, we can describe the simple sentence as a group of words that is usually marked in writing by the following punctuation marks: question mark, full stop, exclamation mark or in some cases semi-colon. From the semantic level, a sentence is a group of words that must be meaningful in context.

In other words, a potentially complete stretch of utterance will be, as a whole utterance, meaningful within the situation in which it is uttered. At the grammatical level, we can define a sentence as a group of words that contains at least a predicator. The sentence is the largest unit of grammatical analysis as well as the upper limit of structural statement at the grammatical level. From the perspective of phonology, we can describe the simple sentence as a stretch of speech that one utters with a complete intonational tune preceded and followed by silence. (See the post on Definitions and Constituents of the Simple Sentence).

Types of Sentences in English with Definitions and Examples

In all there are twelve (12) different types of sentences in English. There might be other ways by which other classify them but we will focus on these 12 types…

Fragmentary Sentence

A fragmentary sentence is an incomplete statement, or phrase or a subordinate clause punctuated as a complete sentence. A fragmentary sentence is one that is fragmented; that is it consists of fragments; it comprises broken off and detached parts. It occurs in our speech where it makes sense as responses to what someone has said or as addition to what we have already said.

In other words, it is a sentence that that expresses a thought or idea that is not complete. A sentence is fragmented also, when major syntactic elements of the sentence are missing. A fragmentary sentence is likely to be a fragmentary idea to be finished or added to another idea and we can correct it by joining it to another sentence or by supplying the subject and a predicator; that is, converting it to a full sentence.

Despite missing out on the major constituents that make up a grammatical sentence, a fragmentary sentence is not wrong or ungrammatical.  Some scholars refer to a fragmentary sentence as sentence fragments, minor clause or abbreviated clause. Fragmentary sentences could also manifest as phrases, incomplete clauses, dependent clauses or as standalone sentences.

Mark Nichol opines that fragmentary sentences are valid and that they can take the form of interjections, expressions and partial imperatives. He further submits: “Though, of course, exclamation points are not required in fragmentary sentences, they are common, and note that such sentences are considered colloquial and should be used with caution in formal writing.”

Examples of Fragmentary Sentence

  • When is your flight leaving? In twenty minutes (prepositional phrase)
  • Should I share the money with her? Sounds fair! (incomplete clause)
  • How did you come in contact with him? When we were in the university (subordinate clause)

Simple Sentence

A simple sentence consist of only on main, alpha or independent clause. A main clause is one that can stand on its dependent counterpart, the subordinate clause. The arrangement of the simple sentence encompasses syntactic elements such as the subject, the predicator, the complement and the adjunct. But the only compulsory element of these four is the predicator. The length of a sentence has nothing to do with its classification as a simple sentence. That a sentence is short does not necessarily qualify it as a simple sentence. A sentence could be short and not be a simple sentence while another may be very long and still be a simple sentence. (See more on Types of Sentences According to Structure).

Examples of a Simple Sentence

  • I am constrained to make this an open letter to you for a number of reasons.
  • Nothing should be  done to  allow  the  country to  degenerate  into  economic  dormancy,  stagnation  or 
  • Nigeria should  be in a  position to  take  advantage  of  the present  favourable  international  interest  to  invest  in  Africa
  • And no group solely by itself can crown any of its members the Nigerian CEO.
  • It is now not a matter of the turn of any section or geographical area but the best interest of Nigeria and all Nigerians.

Interrogative Sentence

An interrogative sentence, based on its name, is a sentence that interrogates. In other words, it asks different types of questions and a question mark usually follows it. Check the post on Types of Sentences According to Functions for the possible types of questions an interrogative question asks.

Examples of Interrogative Sentence

  • Should we pursue war against violence without understanding the root causes of the violence?
  • What does the former president want?
  • Is he being recruited to do for you what he had done for the dictator in the past?
  • Where were  they when  God  used  others  to  achieve  His  will  in  your  life?
  • You will be present when the award is given, won’t you?

Compound-complex Sentence

A compound-complex is a sentence contains two main clauses and one or more subordinate clauses. Both the coordinating conjunction and subordinating conjunction are present in this type of sentence.

Examples of a Compound-complex Sentence

  • I personally have done two out of those three sacrifices and I am ready to do the third if it will serve the best interest of Nigerian dream.
  • I am  a  Nigerian,  born  a  Yoruba  man,  and  I  am proud  of  both  identities  as  they  are  for  me 
  • We incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country and that is in the nature of burden of leadership.
  • I have  always  retorted  that  God  only put  you  where you are and  those  that  could be regarded  as having  played  a  role were only instruments of God to achieve God’s purpose in your life.
  • It would be unfair to continue to level full blames on the Chairman for all that goes wrong with the Party; the Chairman is playing the tune dictated by the Paymaster.

Multiple Sentence

The type of sentence comprises three distinct main clauses which are independent of one another without any dependent clause.

Examples of a Multiple Sentence

  • Five, everything must be done to  guard,  protect  and  defend  our  fledgling  democracy,  nourish  it and  prevent 
  • We, as a Party, should applaud and commend him and Nigerians should reward and venerate him.
  • I cannot comment much on the constitutional aspect of your second term or what some people call third term but that is for both legal and judicial attention.
  • A leader must cherish and hold dear among others trust and honour; these are important ingredients of character and anyone in the Office of the Presidency of Nigeria must be a man or woman of honour in their words and character.
  • I kept you fully briefed at every stage and I deliberately chose the venue and your aides studied all the recordings of the two nights.

Minor Sentence

A minor sentence expresses a complete unit of meaning albeit without the presence of a verb; that is it omits one of the structural elements like the subject, predicator, or even complement. Check out the post dedicated to Minor Sentence for more explanations on its definitions, types and examples.

Multiple-complex Sentence

This is just an extension of the multiple sentence with the addition of at least, one subordinate clause. In other words, it is a sentence that has at least three main clauses and at least, one dependent clause.

Examples of a Multiple-complex Sentence

  • For five capacities in which you find yourself, you must hold yourself most significantly responsible for what happens or fails to happen in Nigeria and in any case, most others will hold you responsible and God who put you there will surely hold you responsible and accountable.
  • I have seen them with you and some were around me  when I was in your position and I  knew  how not to allow them create enemies for me because if you allow them, everybody except  them will be your enemy..
  • On two  occasions,  I  have  had  opportunity  to  work  for  my  successors  and  I  never  took  the  easy  and destabilising route of  ethnic,  regional or religious  consideration,  rather I  took  the enduring  route  of  national,  uniting  and  stabilising 
  • Those positions go with being the President of our country and while depending  on your  disposition, you can delegate  or  devolve  responsibility,  but  the  buck  must  stop  on  your  table  whether you like it or not.   
  • I worked  for  them because  they could strengthen the  unity,  stability  and  democracy  in  Nigeria and we incurred the displeasure of ethnic chauvinists for doing what was right for the country but that is in the nature of burden of leadership.

Declarative Sentence

This sentence, among other things it does, makes a statement, states fact, expresses hope, wish or prayer, informs, supplies ideas, educates and declares as the name goes.

Examples of Declarative Sentence

  • I will respect you  for  upholding  these  attributes  and  for  dignifying  that 
  • It is  a  lesson  for  all  leaders  including you  and 
  • It happened in Lagos in 2011 when he was nocturnally brought to Abuja to strike a deal to support your personal election.
  • I wish to see no more bloodshed occasioned by politics in Nigeria.
  • You can do it and I plead that you do it.

Compound Sentence

A compound sentence comprises two independent clauses with no subordinate clause. That is, the two clauses that make up a compound sentence are main or alpha clauses which can stand on their own separately from the coordinating conjunction that joins them. (See Coordinators and their Semantic Implications).

Examples of a Compound Sentence

  • I have  also  always  told  you  that  God  has  graciously  been  kind, generous,  merciful  and  compassionate  to  me  and  He  has  done  more than  I  could  have  ever  hoped 
  • These dangerous emotive issues can ignite uncontrollable passion and can destabilise our dear country.
  • Let me appeal to those who have embarked on this dangerous road to reflect and desist from taking us on a perishable journey.
  • One of the truest test of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised (Chinua Achebe) and it is lesson for all leaders, you and me inclusive.
  • I spoke to you at that time and there was in addition  evidence of  cover-up  and  non-prosecution of fraud  of  fake  security  report  against  the  other  candidate  and  his collaborators.

Imperative Sentence

When one gives a command, instruction and order, an imperative sentence is what results. It ranges from a mild order to a harsh order or command. In imperative sentences, the subject is usually absent and the sentence begins with an imperative verb.

Examples of Imperative Sentence

  • Come here children!
  • Answer one question from each section of your examination.
  • Come in please!
  • Leave the city at one!
  • Follow the path to your destination.

Complex Sentence

Complex sentences have one main clause and one or more subordinate clauses. It does not matter the number of subordinate clauses a sentence has, the presence of one main clause makes it a complex sentence. Subordinators usually introduce the subordinate clauses in complex sentences. (See Coordination and Subordination)

Examples of a Complex Sentence

  • The current  situation  and  consequent  possible  outcome dictate that I should,  before the door  closes on reason  and promotion of national  interest,  alert  you  to  the  danger  that  may  be  lurking  in  the corner.
  • We must  move  away  from  advertently  or inadvertently  dividing  the country along  weak seams  of North-South and Christian-Moslem.
  • Some of  our  international  friends  and  development  partners  are genuinely  worried  about  signs  and  signals  that  are  coming  out  of Nigeria.
  • I am concerned about your legacy and your climb-down which you alone can best be the manager of, whenever you so decide.
  • If I could get there and if Jonathan can get there, any Nigerian can.
  • I will respect you  for  upholding  these  attributes  and  for  dignifying  that 

Exclamatory Sentence

This is a sentence that shows emotions such as surprise, excitement, anger, joy, pain and other forms of emotions. The exclamation mark usually follows an exclamatory sentence. We do not normally use the mark in formal writing; and a period does not immediately precede or follow the mark.

Examples of Exclamatory Sentence

  • What a pity!
  • How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!
  • How lovely upon the mountains are the feet of those who speak good tidings!
  • What a beautiful smile the baby has got!
  • I couldn’t believe my eyes!


This post has explained all the possible types of sentences in English; and it is important for students of English, or anyone who loves to be sound in the knowledge of English, to be versatile in the use of these types of sentences, as circumstances may require. Please share this knowledge with others to enlighten them on types of sentences in English. Use our comment box below to send in your comments and questions. Thank you for always reading Akademia.

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