What Are Declarative Sentences in English?

declarative sentence
This declarative sentence is spoken by Don Corleone (played by Marlon Brando) in the movie The Godfather (1972).

In English grammar, a declarative sentence is a sentence in the form of a statement—in contrast to a command (imperative), a question (interrogative), or an exclamation (exclamatory). Declarative sentences are the most common type of sentence in the language. Also called a declarative clause.

In a declarative sentence, the subject normally precedes the verb. A declarative sentence almost always ends with a period.

From the Latin, "to make clear"

Examples and Observations

  • "I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me."
    (Fred Allen)
  • "The best goodbyes are short."
    (Sydney Greenstreet as Kasper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon, 1941)
  • "We rob banks."
    (Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow in Bonnie and Clyde, 1967)
  • "You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room."
    (Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), "On Becoming a Writer," 1986)
  • "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
    (Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz, 1939)
  • "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining but wants it back the minute it begins to rain."
    (attributed to Mark Twain)
  • "Friends and fellow citizens, I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote."
    (Susan B. Anthony, On Women's Right to Vote, 1872)
  • "I'm the one who should be sorry. I was so ready to get out, so ready to taste that ocean, I was willing to put you in harm's way to get there. Nothing should be worth that."
    (Gill in Finding Nemo, 2003)

  • "Cold steamy air blew in through two open windows, bringing with it half a dozen times a minute the Alcatraz foghorn's dull moaning."
    (Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon, 1929)
  • "Sonny, true love is the greatest thing in the world, except for a nice MLT: mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe."
    (Billy Crystal as Miracle Max in The Princess Bride, 1984)
  • "Even in the helter-skelter skirmish that is my life, I have seen that the world is to the strong regardless of a little pigmentation more of less. No, I do not weep at the world—I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife."
    (Zora Neale Hurston, "How It Feels to Be Colored Me," 1928)
  • "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing."
    (Macbeth in William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Macbeth, c. 1605)
  • "I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land."
    (Jon Stewart)
  • "There isn't any thought or idea that can't be expressed in a fairly simple declarative sentence, or in a series of fairly simple declarative sentences."
    (E.B. White, "Fro-Joy")
  • Negative Declaratives
    "To negate a declarative sentence, as shown in (4), do is absent and not is contracted with the verb. In the corresponding imperative, the auxiliary do is combined with not and placed at the beginning of the sentence before the verb. . . .
    (4) Declarative Sentence
    You aren't lazy.

    (4) Imperative Sentence
    Don't be lazy.
    As shown in (5), negative declarative sentences whose affirmative forms do not contain an auxiliary verb or copular be also take do not before the verb. Unlike their imperative counterparts, however, these negative declaratives must still have a visible subject.
    (5) Declarative Sentence
    You don't use it.

    (5) Imperative Sentence
    Don't use it.
    Another way to distinguish negative declaratives from negative imperatives is by using the tag test. Negative declaratives such as (5) can take a tag, like do you, to form a tag question, as in (6a). This is not possible with negative imperatives, as (6b) shows. . . .
    (6a) You don't use it, do you?
    (6b) *Don't use it, do you!"
    (Ron Cowan, The Teacher's Grammar of English. Cambridge University Press, 2008)
  • The Lighter Side of Declarative Sentences
    "A good [film] title can be provocative, poetic, mysterious, titillating. But it should give you some idea of what you might be in for. Declarative sentences work well, but tend to be a trifle long--I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, for instance, or I Married a Monster From Outer Space. But single-word titles can be just as effective--18 of Hitchcock's movies have one-word titles or a single word accompanied by a definite article."
    (Philip French, "That's a Hard One to Call." The Observer, April 13, 2003)


Pronunciation: di-KLAR-i-tiv