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Defining the term Sentence

1. Formal
: A sentence expresses a complete thought
2. Notional
: A string of words beginning with a capital (upper case)
letter and ending with a full stop (period).
3. Grammatical
: Combinations of words that conform to certain
B. Regular, Irregular and non-sentence
1. Regular
: Sentences that conform to the major patterns.
a) David and Helen have three children.
b) The liquid smelled spicy to Justin.
c) Some people give their children a daily dose of vitamins.
d) About a million visitors come to our city every summer.
2. Irregular
: Sentences that do not conform to the major patterns.

Most irregular sentences are fragmentary sentences. These leave out

words that we can easily supply, usually from the preceding verbal
context. Here is a typical example in an exchange between two speakers:
A: Where did you put the letter?
B: In the top drawer.
3. Non-sentence
Finally, we often say or write things that are not grammatical sentences.
These non-sentences may simply be mistakes. But they may also be
perfectly normal, although they cannot be analysed grammatically as
Normal non-sentences include such common expression as
Hello!; Yes ; No ; So long! ; Thanks! ; Cheers! ;
and they include many headlines, headings, titles, labels and notices:
Traffic Chaos (newspaper headline)
On the Nature of the Model (section heading in book)
The Captain and the Kings (title of book)
Naming of Parts (title of poem)
Pure Lemon Juice
No Smoking
C. Simple and Multiple Sentence
Here are two sentences placed next to each other:
[1] The inquiry left in its wake a number of casualties. I was one of them.
I can combine the two sentences in [1] merely by putting and between them:
[2] The inquiry left in its wake a number of casualties, and I was one of them.
I can also combine them by putting a connecting word in front of the first
[3] When the inquiry left in its wake a number of casualties, I was one of them.
A sentence or a sentence-like construction contained within a sentence is called
a clause .
A sentence that does not contain another clause within it is a simple sentence.
If it contains one or more clauses, it is a multiple sentence.
Here are some more examples of multiple sentences with connecting words:
You cant insist that your children love each other.
The building was emptied before the bomb-disposal squad was called.
When we returned three hours later, no wolves were in sight.
My father always hoped that I would become a doctor and that must
been why he took me along when he visited his patients
D. Sentence types
There are four major types of sentences:
1. Declaratives (or declarative sentences)
She was attracted to an open-air job.
The new proposals have galvanized the normally disparate community
into a

potent fighting force.

2. Interrogatives ( or interrogative sentences)
Do you have internet access at home?
Where will you be going for your holiday?
3. Imperatives ( or imperative sentences)
Open the door for me.
Take a seat.
4. Exclamatives (or exclamative sentences)
How well you look!
What a good friend you are!
E. Positive and negative sentences
Sentences are either positive or negative . If an auxiliary ( helping ) verb is
present, we can usually change a positive sentence into a negative sentence by
inserting not or nt after the auxiliary. In the following examples, the auxiliaries
are has, is , and can:

: Nancy has been working here for over a year.

: Nancy has not been working here for over a year.
: Dan is paying for the meal.
: Dan isnt paying for the meal.
:I can tell the difference.
:I cant tell the difference.

A sentence may be negative because of some other negative word:

She never had a secretary.
Nobody talked to us.
This is no ordinary painting.
F. Active and passive sentences
Sentences are either active or passive. We can often choose whether to make a
sentence active or passive (cf. 4.15). The choice involves differences in position
and differences in the form of the verb:
Active : Charles Dickens wrote many novels.
: Many novels were written by Charles Dickens.
Here are two further examples of pairs of active and passive sentences:
: Manchester United beat Liverpool at Old Trafford.
: Liverpool were beaten by Manchester United at Old Trafford.
: The Rambert Dance Company won the country s largest
arts prize, the Prudential Award.
Passive: The country s largest arts prize, the Prudential Award, was won
by the Rambert Dance Company.

It is sometimes said that a sentence expresses a complete thought. This is a

notional definition: it defines a term by the notion or idea it conveys. The difficulty with this definition lies in fixing what is meant by a complete thought.
There are notices, for example, that seem to be complete in themselves but are
not generally regarded as sentences: Exit , Danger, 50 mph speed limit.
We can try another approach by defining a sentence as a string of words beginning with a capital (upper case) letter and ending with a full stop (period). This is
a formal definition: it defines a term by the form or shape of what the term
refers to.