What is a Sentence?; Definition and Example

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Well, in this occasion, I will give explanation about “What is a Sentence?”.
Do you ever hear about this material before? If you are not, please pay attention my explanation about this material and read this material carefully. Oke, check this out.

What is a Sentence?

In simple terms, a sentence is a set of words that contain:

  1. a subject (what the sentence is about, the topic of the sentence), and
  2. a predicate (what is said about the subject)

Look at this simple example:

subject predicate
You speak English.

The above example sentence is very short. Of course, a sentence can be longer and more complicated, but basically there is always a subject and a predicate. Look at this longer example:

subject predicate
Ram and Tara speak English when they are working.

Note that the predicate always contains a verb. Sometimes, in fact, the predicate is only a verb:

subject predicate
Smoke rises.

So we can say that a sentence must contain at least a subject and verb.

There is one apparent exception to this – the imperative. When someone gives a command (the imperative), they usually do not use a subject. They don’t say the subject because it is obvious – the subject is YOU! Look at these examples of the imperative, with and without a subject:

subject predicate
Wait a minute!
You look!
Everybody look!

Note that a sentence expresses a complete thought. Here are some examples of complete and incomplete thoughts:

    complete thought?
sentence She opened the window. YES
Sit down, please.
Do you like apple?
not a sentence student who study hard NO
a fast-moving animal with wide mouth

Note also that a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (AmE period) or a question mark or an exclamation mark (AmE exclamation point). Look at these examples:

  • We must study hard.
  • How are you?
  • Close the door!

Actually, it is not easy to define a sentence. Grammarians do not all agree on what is or is not a sentence. For the purposes of introduction, this page describes rather simple sentences. Of course, sentences can be much longer and more complex, and these will be covered on other pages.


What is a Sentence?

You can do this quiz online or print it on paper. It covers grammar explained on our What is a Sentence? page.

1. A sentence is a set of words with a subject and
a) an object
b) a predicate

2. The subject of a sentence is
a) what it’s about
b) what it begins with

3. The predicate is what’s said about
a) the subject
b) the beginning

4. “My dog likes to chase cats.” The predicate is
a) likes to chase cats
b) chase cats

5. The predicate of a sentence always includes
a) a noun
b) a verb

6. Imperative sentences like “Stop!” don’t have to include
a) the verb
b) the subject

7. In the sentence “Wait a minute!”, the predicate has
a) two words
b) three words

8. A full sentence expresses
a) a complete thought
b) a correct thought

9. Which is a full sentence?
a) Come here!
b) Just a moment.

10. Which is not a full sentence?
a) How many did you get right?
b) All of them!

Correct answers:

1. a predicate
2. what it’s about
3. the subject
4. likes to chase cats
5. a verb
6. the subject
7. three words
8. a complete thought
9. Come here!
10. All of them!

Let’s Learn again about “Sentence” !

sentence is the largest unit of any language. In English, it begins with a capital letter and ends with a full-stop, or a question mark, or an exclamation mark.

The sentence is generally defined as a word or a group of words that expresses a thorough idea by giving a statement/order, or asking a question, or exclaiming.


He is a good boy (statement), Is he a good boy? (question), What a nice weather! (exclaiming).

Ideally, a sentence requires at least one subject and one verb. Sometimes the subject of a sentence can be hidden, but the verb must be visible and present in the sentence. Verb is called the heart of a sentence.


Do it. (In this sentence, a subject ‘you’ is hidden but verb ‘do’ is visible)

“[A sentence is] a group of words, usually containing a verb, that expresses a thought in the form of a statement, question, instruction, or exclamation and starts with a capital letter when written.” – (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press.)

More Examples of Sentences

In other words, a complete English sentence must have three characteristics:

  • First, in written form, a sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with a period (i.e., a full stop) [.], a note of interrogation (i.e., a question mark) [?], or a note of exclamation (i.e., an exclamation mark) [!].
  • Second, it must express a complete thought, not fragmented.
  • Third, it must contain at least one subject (hidden/visible) and one verb comprising an independent clause. (An independent clause contains an independent subject and verb and expresses a complete thought.)

Types of Sentences

Structurally, sentences are of four types:

  • Simple sentence
  • Compound sentence
  • Complex sentence, and
  • Compound-complex sentence.

Simple sentence

simple sentence must have a single clause (a single verb) which is independent, and it cannot take another clause.


She wanted to become an artist. (One clause – one verb)

Compound sentence

compound sentence must have more than one independent clause with no dependent clauses. Some specific conjunctions, punctuation, or both are used to join together these clauses.


She always wanted to become an artist, and I wanted to become a business man. (Two independent clauses – two verbs)

Complex sentence

complex sentence also has more than one clause but of one them must be an independent clause and the other/others must be (a) dependent clause(es). There are also some particular connectors for the clauses of a complex sentence to be connected.


I know that she always wanted to be a doctor. (Here, a dependent clause is followed by a connector and an independent clause. The other way around is also possible.)

Compound-complex sentence

compound-complex sentence (or complex–compound sentence) is a mixture of the features of compound and complex sentences in one sentence. So, it must contain at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.


I know that you always wanted to become a writer, but I always wanted to become a doctor. (Here, one dependent clause is followed by a complex connector and two independent clauses with a compound conjunction between them.)

Functionally, sentences are of mainly four types:

  • Declarative sentence
  • Imperative sentence
  • Interrogative sentence, and
  • Exclamatory sentence

Declarative sentence:

An assertive sentence (declarative sentence) simply expresses an opinion/feeling, or makes a statement, or describes things. In other words, it declares something. This type of sentence ends with a period (i.e., a full-stop).


  • She wanted to be a doctor. (a statement)
  • I am so sad now. (a feeling)

More Examples of Declarative Sentence

Imperative sentence:

We use an imperative sentence to make a request or to give a command. Imperative sentences usually end with a period (i.e., a full stop), but under certain circumstances, it can end with a note of exclamation (i.e., exclamation mark).


  • Please close the window.
  • I need you to close the window now!

More Examples of Imperative Sentence

Interrogative sentence:

An interrogative sentence asks a question. Interrogative sentences must end with a note of interrogation (i.e., question mark)


  • When will you go home?
  • Do you like English lesson?

More Examples of Interrogative Sentence

Exclamatory sentence.

An exclamatory sentence expresses overflow of emotions. These emotions can be of happiness, wonder, sorrow, anger, etc.


    • What a day it was!
    • I cannot believe he would do that!

More Examples of Exclamatory Sentence

Okey, That’s all my explanation about this point. Thanks for your attention and thanks for visiting this website. See you next time…


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