Beginner's Guide to Declarative Sentences

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 expressed in the form of a statement—true to its name, it declares something. Also known as a declarative clause, it is the most common type of sentence in the language. 


Declaratives express an active state of being in the present tense, in contrast to a command (imperative), a question (interrogative), or an exclamation (exclamatory). In a declarative sentence, the subject normally precedes the verb, and it almost always ends with a period.

Types of Declarative Sentences

As with other types of sentences, a declarative can be either simple or compound. A simple declaratory sentence is the union of a subject and a predicate, as simple as a subject and verb in the present tense (She sings). A compound declarative joins two related phrases together with a conjunction and a comma.

Simple declarative: Lilly loves gardening.

Compound declarative: Lilly loves gardening, but her husband hates weeding.

Compound declaratives can also be joined with a semicolon and be equally effective. In the above sentence, you would change the comma to a semicolon and delete the conjunction.

Declarative vs. Interrogative Sentences

Declarative sentences usually end with a period, but they can also be phrased as a question. Unlike interrogative sentences, asked in order to obtain information, a declarative question is asked in order to clarify. 

Interrogative: Did she leave a message?

Declarative: She did leave a message?

Note that the subject comes before the verb in a declarative sentence. Another easy way to tell the two sentences apart is to substitute the question mark for a period. A declarative sentence like the one above would still make sense, but the interrogative won't make sense with a period.

Imperative and Exclamative Sentences

It can be fairly easy to confuse a declarative sentence with an interrogative one. But if the sentence expresses a statement of fact, what looks like an exclamative could be declarative (though it's a less common form). It all depends on the context.

Imperative: Please come to dinner tonight.

Exclamative: "Come to dinner!" my boss demanded.

Declarative: You're coming to dinner tonight! That makes me so happy!

It's unlikely that you'll come across an instance where an imperative is confused with a declarative.

Modifying a Declarative

Declaratives, like other types of sentences, can be expressed in either positive or negative form, depending on the verb. To distinguish them from imperatives, remember to look for a visible subject.

Declarative: You aren't impolite.

Interrogative: Don't be impolite.

If you're still having difficulty distinguishing the two types of sentences, try expressing both with a tag question added. A declarative sentence will still make sense; the imperative won't.