Statement: Meaning, Examples & Importance
In writing, there are several types of sentences that writers use to make their points. For instance, they use exclamatory sentences to express intense emotions, like «I love this article!» Another one of the most common types of sentences is a statement. Statements express a singular, straightforward idea.
When a writer uses a statement, they state information about a topic. In order for words to form a statement, they must express a complete thought. A statement does not ask a question or make a command.
A statement is a type of sentence that directly communicates information that is true, or in the case of a thesis statement, a defensible claim.
Examples and Types of Statement
Writers use statements throughout most academic writing, but it is important to understand the difference between the types of statements and what they look like in order to effectively use them.
Writers frequently have to formulate thesis statements. Unlike a declarative statement, a thesis statement is not a statement of fact. Instead, a thesis statement is a defensible claim about a topic. A writer has to prove a thesis statement with evidence. For instance, a thesis statement for a literary analysis essay might read: “Johnson suggests that heterosexual marriage reinforces gender inequality through characterization, metaphor, and symbolism.”
In the example thesis statement, the writer provided a line of reasoning for their claim by mentioning three ways the writer conveyed the idea about marriage. This is a useful technique for crafting a detailed thesis statement that stands alone as a summary of the argument.
Fig. 1 — Thesis statements frame a writer’s argument in an essay.
Declarative statements make a declaration about a topic. They are declarative sentences that are facts. For instance, the following statements are examples of declarative statements.
Bees make honey.
Polar bears live in cold climates.
The sky is blue.
The sun rises each morning.
This article is about statements.
Note how all of these statements end with a period. This makes declarative statements different from exclamatory sentences, which end with an exclamation point. Exclamatory sentences express intense emotion but do not necessarily express straightforward, factual information. For instance, the sentence «I’m scared of the bees!» The exclamation mark underscores the speaker’s intense emotions, but this sentence does not make a factual assertion the way that «Bees make honey.» does.
Declarative statements are declarative sentences, but declarative sentences are only declarative statements if they state a fact. A declarative sentence is the most common type of sentence in the English language. They must have a subject (a person, place, or thing) and a verb that describes what the subject is doing. For instance, the sentence “Mary is an elementary school teacher” is a declarative sentence in which «Mary» is the subject and «is» is the verb. It is also a declarative statement if it is a fact. If it is not true and Mary is not an elementary school teacher, then this sentence would not be a statement.
Synopsis and Summary Statements
Writers frequently use statements in synopsis and summaries. A synopsis is a piece of writing condensed to its essential features. Writers often write synopses of books and movies that help readers decide whether they want to read or watch them. Since statements are succinct, straightforward sentences, they help writers concisely craft synopses.
George Orwell’s novel 1984 (1949) is about a man named Winston who lives in a dystopian society.
This is a declarative statement, not a thesis statement because it is a statement of fact about the book’s plot, not a defensible analytical claim about the text.
Statements are also particularly useful in summary texts. Summaries are texts that provide an overview of a topic. For example, a writer of a research paper might summarize their paper in a short summary called an abstract. The writer could use statements to describe their paper, such as the following statements:
«This paper examines the correlation between teachers’ stress and students’ academic performance.»
“The researcher used surveys to assess teachers’ stress levels.”
Functions of a Statement
Statements allow writers to inform readers about a topic. They provide readers with complete information that stands alone out of context. For instance, consider the statement “Strawberries are red.” This tells readers something specific about strawberries.
Statements thus allow writers to demonstrate their knowledge of a topic. For instance, imagine a writer is writing a report about the novel Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury. The writer can use statements about the text to show that they have read and understood the book, such as “In Fahrenheit 451, firefighters burn books. ”
Another important function of statements, specifically declarative statements, is that they support an argument. To defend a claim, writers integrate evidence into declarative statements. For instance, imagine a writer writes the thesis statement that «People should recycle to protect the environment.» To defend this claim, they should craft declarative statements that include credible evidence to support the claim, such as «Humans need trees for oxygen» and «Recycling saves trees.»
Importance of Statement
Statements are important because they shape writers’ arguments. Thesis statements are a critical part of writers’ writing because they set up the argument that frames an entire text. For instance, if a writer crafts a thesis statement with their supporting ideas, those three ideas become the subject of each supporting body paragraph. All the writing in the body of the evidence should connect back to the writer’s thesis statement.
Declarative statements are also crucial in writing because they allow writers to use evidence to defend their thesis statements. Without declarative statements, writers could not properly integrate factual evidence to support their thesis and supporting claims.
Consider the last essay you wrote. What was the thesis statement? How did you use declarative statements to support it?
Differences Between Statement and Phrase
A statement is not the same thing as a phrase. A phrase is a group of words that do not necessarily make up a complete sentence. For instance, the following examples depict the difference between statements and phrases.
Fig. 2 — A phrase is a group of words that do not necessarily make a complete sentence.
Bees have the ability to fly.
Able to fly
The statue is all the way up on the mountaintop.
All the way up
Note how the phrases are not complete sentences because they do not have a subject and a verb.
Recognizing statements, phrases, and sentences that are not statements can be a challenge. To determine if a piece of writing is a phrase, writers should ask themselves:
If yes, it is a statement. If no, it is a phrase.
If the text is not a phrase, readers should then determine if it is a statement or a sentence that is not a statement. To determine if a sentence is a statement, readers can ask themselves:
- Does it make a command such as “Mary, do the dishes?”
If yes, it is not a statement, but it is a sentence.
- Does it directly state a basic fact or opinion?
If yes, it is a sentence and a statement.
Statement — Key Takeaways
- A statement is a sentence that directly communicates information.
- Thesis statements are defensible claims about a topic.
- Thesis statements shape writers’ arguments in essays.
- Declarative statements are truthful declarative sentences.
- Declarative sentences provide evidence for claims.
What is a sentence?
by Craig Shrives
What Is a Sentence?
A sentence is a group of words giving a complete thought. A sentence must contain a subject and a verb (although one may be implied). For example:
- The cat sat on the mat.
(Here, the subject is «the cat» and the verb is «sat.» The words convey a complete thought. This is a sentence.)
(It’s only one word, but this is also a sentence. In this example, the subject is implied. In full, it would be «you eat.» Remember that a sentence must have a subject and verb, even if one is implied, and must express a complete thought.)
A More Formal Definition of Sentence
A sentence is a set of words that is complete in itself, typically containing a subject and predicate, conveying a statement, question, exclamation, or command, and consisting of a main clause and sometimes one or more subordinate clauses.
Table of Contents
- The Four Types of Sentence
- The Four Sentence Structures
- (1) Simple Sentence
- (2) Complex Sentence
- (3) Compound Sentence
- (4) Compound-Complex Sentence
- Why Understanding Sentences Is Important
- Video Lesson
- Printable Test
The Four Types of Sentence
A sentence can convey a statement, a question, an exclamation, or a command. There are four types of sentence:
A declarative sentence states a fact and ends with a period (full stop). For example:
- He has every attribute of a dog except loyalty. (Politician Thomas P Gore)
- I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult. (Comedian Rita Rudner)
(Remember that a statement which contains an indirect question (like this example) is not a question. )
An imperative sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an exclamation mark or a period (full stop). For example:
- When a dog runs at you, whistle for him. (Philosopher Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862)
An interrogative sentence asks a question and ends with a question mark. For example:
- Who knew that dog saliva can mend a broken heart? (Author Jennifer Neal)
An exclamatory sentence expresses excitement or emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark. For example:
- In Washington, it’s dog eat dog. In academia, it’s exactly the opposite! (Politician Robert Reich)
The Subject Could Be Implied.
In an imperative sentence (an order) or an interrogative sentence (a question), the subject or verb is often implied.
(This is the shortest sentence in English.)
The shortest sentence without an implied subject or verb is «I am» or «I go. «
The Four Sentence Structures
A sentence can consist of a single clause or several clauses. When a sentence is a single clause, it is called a simple sentence (and the clause is called an independent clause). A sentence must contain at least one independent clause. Below are the four types of sentence structure (with their independent clauses shaded):
(1) Simple Sentence
A simple sentence has just one independent clause. For example:
- You can’t surprise a man with a dog. (Screenwriter Cindy Chupack)
(2) Complex Sentence
A complex sentence has an independent clause and at least one dependent clause. For example:
- Diplomacy is the art of saying «nice doggie» until you can find a rock. (Actor Will Rogers, 1879-1935)
- When you’re on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog. (Cartoonist Peter Steiner)
(3) Compound Sentence
A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses. For example:
- Cry «Havoc,» and let slip the dogs of war. (Playwright William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)
(4) Compound-Complex Sentence
A compound-complex sentence has at least two independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. For example:
- When a dog bites a man, that is not news because it happens so often, but if a man bites a dog, that is news. (Editor John B Bogart)
Why Understanding Sentences Is Important
There are four great reasons to understand sentence structures and the types of the sentence.
(Reason 1) Avoid the run-on sentence.
By far the most common mistake made by people with otherwise sound writing skills is the run-on sentence. Typically, this error is caused by writing a sentence, putting a comma, and then writing another sentence.
- I love the mountains, they remind me of home.
- Love is so short, forgetting is so long. (Chilean politician Pablo Neruda)
You cannot end a sentence with a comma. These should both be two sentences (or rewritten to punctuate them correctly). Remember that a sentence contains a subject and a verb and gives a complete thought. The criteria for what constitutes a sentence are satisfied twice in each example.
The run-on sentence usually occurs because writers feel a period (full stop) is too much of speed bump between their closely related sentences. The jolt of a period can be smoothed with other punctuation (but not a comma). Here are some options:
- Don’t play hide and seek; no one would look for you.
- I like a woman with a head on her shoulders – I hate necks. (Actor Steve Martin)
- My friend is a procrastinator…he’s afraid of Saturday the 14th.
(You can smooth the jolt of a period by merging your two sentences into one with a semicolon.)
(You can smooth the jolt of a period by merging your two sentences into one with a dash. A dash looks quite stark, and it looks a little informal. )
(You can smooth the jolt of a period by merging your two sentences into one with three dots (or ellipses). Using three dots creates a pause for effect, and it looks informal.)
(Reason 2) Punctuate your sentences correctly.
Understanding the four sentence structures assists with deciding how to punctuate sentences. More specifically, it assists with the following two common decisions:
(1) Deciding whether to use a comma with the subordinate clause in a complex sentence.
A complex sentence comprises an independent clause (shaded) and at least one subordinate clause. When the subordinate clause is at the front and acts like an adverb – typically stating a time (e.g., When I was six), a place (e.g., Where I live), or a condition (e.g., If I were you) – then it is a common practice to offset it with a comma. When such a clause appears at the back, it is usually not offset with a comma. Here are some examples:
- When I was six, I had a wind-up Evil Knievel motorbike.
- I had a wind-up Evil Knievel motorbike when I was six.
- When you’re on the internet,nobody knows you’re a dog. (Cartoonist Peter Steiner)
- Nobody knows you’re a dog when you’re on the internet.
Read more about adverbial phrases and adverbial clauses.
(2) Deciding whether to put a comma before a conjunction.
A compound sentence has at least two independent clauses (highlighted), which are usually joined with a conjunction (e.g., and, or, but). A conjunction (bolded) that joins two things is not normally preceded with a comma, but a conjunction that joins two independent clauses in a compound sentence is.
- Lee likes pies and cakes.
- Lee likes pies, and he likes cakes.
- Go, and never darken my towels again. (Comedian Groucho Marx)
(There is no comma before and. This is a simple sentence. )
(This time, there is a comma before and. This is a compound sentence.)
(Remember that Go is the shortest sentence in English.)
Let’s examine this point a little more. Look at these two examples:
- I would say, «I’m alone, but I’m not lonely.» (Actor Bruce Willis)
- I would say, «I’m alone but not lonely.»
(Here, but is preceded with a comma because it’s joining two independent clauses.)
(Here, but is not preceded with a comma because it’s joining two adjectives (alone and not lonely) not two independent clauses.)
Here’s a tip: Look carefully for the subject and verb in the text after your conjunction to confirm the text is an independent clause. If it is, whack a comma in. If it isn’t, don’t use a comma.
- Non-rabid wolves have attacked and killed people (mainly children), but this is rare. They live away from people and have developed a fear of humans from hunters and shepherds.
- They live away from people, and they have developed a fear of humans from hunters and shepherds.
(Compare this compound sentence with the simple sentence (the last one) in the example above. When you add the word they after the and, the second half becomes an independent clause, and a comma is then required.)
Be aware that a compound sentence can have more than two independent clauses.
- Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them. (Playwright Joseph Heller)
- «Veni, vidi, vici» [I came, I saw,I conquered.] (Roman emperor Julius Caesar)
(This is a compound sentence with three independent clauses. The first independent clause ends with just a comma. This is an occasion when that’s allowable. )
(This is another occasion when you have to say it’s acceptable to use just a comma to separate independent clauses (an error known as a run-on sentence or comma splice). Grammarians hate the comma splice so much, you will often see «Veni, vidi, vici» translated «As I came; I saw; I conquered» and even «I came, I saw, and I conquered.»)
Read more about commas with conjunctions.
(Reason 3) As the subject of an imperative sentence is «you,» you can’t use «myself.»
- If you have any questions, email myself or your line manager.
- Please write to myself with any suggestions.
The subject of an imperative sentence is «you,» which is usually implied (i.e., not said or written). This means you cannot use «myself,» which requires the subject to be «I.» Writers often use «myself,» believing it sounds more highbrow. It’s wrong. It should be «me.»
This is also covered in the entry on reflexive pronouns.
(Reason 4) Don’t use a question mark with a declarative sentence that includes an indirect question.
- She asked whether I loved her?
- I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult? (Comedian Rita Rudner)
The bolded texts are indirect questions. These are declarative sentences (i.e., statements) not questions. They should end in periods (full stops).
Here is a 16-minute video summarizing this lesson on sentences.
Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.
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Can you start a sentence with a conjunction (e.g., and, but)?What is the subject of a sentence?What are verbs?What is a declarative sentence?When do you use periods (full stops)?What is an indirect question?What is an imperative sentence?What is an interrogative sentence?What is an exclamatory sentence?What is an independent clause?What is a complex sentence?What is a dependent clause?What is a compound sentence?What is a simple sentence?Glossary of grammatical terms
Declarative questions [No audio]
Question: When can we use affirmative word order in questions?
Question: When can questions be left in the same word order as in an affirmative sentence?
We use affirmative word order in questions in spoken rather than written English. Declarative questions can be used when the speaker is fairly sure he has understood what has been said, but he just wants to make sure. In declarative questions, a rising intonation at the end is common:
Preservation of affirmative word order in questions is characteristic of spoken rather than written language. Such questions-statements are asked when they are sure of the answer, they just want to get confirmation once again. In questions-statements, intonation usually rises at the end:
Are you going by plane? I thought you were going by bus.
Are you flying by plane? I thought you would take the bus
You’ve already bought the tickets? I thought you were broke.
Have you bought your tickets yet? I thought you had no money
Note that if the declarative question consists of more than one clause, a rising intonation is less feasible:
Note that if the question-statement has subordinate clauses, then raising intonation towards the end is often physically impossible:
Do you think we should keep the money even though we know it’s been stolen?
Do you think that we shouldn’t give money even though we know it’s stolen?
When you ask a question in the declarative mood, you expect the answer to be ‘yes’. However, if you use a negative construction, you expect the answer to be ‘no’:
When you ask a statement question, you expect a yes answer. But if there is a negative verb inside such a question, then you expect the answer «no»
You’ve never been to Paris? ~ No, I haven’t.
Have you ever been to Paris? — No, never
You’ve been to all the other European capitals? ~Yes. ~ But never to Paris? ~ No, never. ~ That’s extraordinary!
Have you visited all European capitals? — Yes — But you’ve never been to Paris? — No, never — It’s amazing!
Note that questions are expressed in the declarative mood often begin with the conjunctions so, and or but :
Note that statement questions often begin with conjunctions so, and or but:
His behavior has been good whilst he’s been in prison. ~ So you’re quite satisfied with his progress? ~ Reasonably satisfied, yes.
His behavior during his stay in custody (prison) was good — So you are satisfied: is he improving? — In general, satisfied, yes
You’re keeping his medicine in the fridge? ~Yes. ~ And you’ll make sure he takes it three times a day? ~Yes.
Do you keep his medicines in the refrigerator? — Yes. — And you make sure that he takes them three times a day? — Yes
You say you heard funny noises? ~Yes. ~ But you didn’t see anything suspicious? ~ no.
Do you say you heard strange sounds? — Yes. — But you didn’t see anything suspicious? — No
Note from the travel example questions above that we often use the declarative mood to express surprise. Here we are repeating what has already been said and, by using a rising intonation, we turn it into a question:
From questions about visiting European capitals, it is clear that affirmative questions often express surprise . You seem to repeat what was said and turn it into a question by increasing intonation towards the end:
I’ve never been to Paris. ~ You’ve never been to Paris? Such a romantic city!
I have never been to Paris — Have you ever been to Paris? Such a romantic city!
Did you know Wills and Kate have split up? ~ They’ve split up? I thought they were definitely an item!
Did you know that Wills and Kate broke up? — Broke up? I thought they were one
We can also use this strategy to focus on one part of the sentence and put a question word at the end of our declarative mood question. Note that word order is not affected:
In the same way, you can focus the listener’s attention on the part of the sentence you need, and put the question word at the end. In this case, the order of words does not change
She’s invited 250 guests to her wedding. ~ She’s invited how many?
She invited 250 guests to her wedding — Invited how many (guests)?
They’re going to Belo Horizonte on honeymoon. ~ They’re going where?
On their honeymoon they will go to Belo Horizonte (city in Brazil) — Where will they go?
She’s pawned her pearls to pay for it. ~ She’s pawned what?
To pay, she pawned her pearls — Pawned what?
Reported speech questions
Note that we also retain affirmative word order when we are reporting questions in indirect speech:
Note that when transferring questions in indirect speech, the «affirmative» word order is also preserved:
What’s the matter? What’s the matter?
I asked her what the matter was. He asked her what was the matter0003
Why are you crying? Why are you crying?
I asked her why she was crying. He asked why she was crying
When did he leave? When did you leave?
I wanted to know when he had left. I wanted to know when you left
Who did he leave with? Who did he leave with?
I wanted to know who he had left with. I wanted to know who he went with
They are, of course, essential in declarative questions as they are the only indication on paper that a question is being asked.
When transferring questions in indirect speech, a question mark is not placed at the end of the sentence. And vice versa, question marks are obligatory in statement questions: after all, without them, the letter will turn out just an affirmative sentence.
Verb to be — affirmation and negation
Dmitry Medvedev Grammar
The verb to be is translated as to be, to be or to be. In Russian, we mean it, but almost never say it. In English , the verb to be is not omitted.
Consider the following suggestions.
|I’ m 25.
|I am 25 years old.
|My name is Diana.
|My name is Diana.
|I’ m Russian. I’ m from Moscow.
|I am Russian. I am from Moscow.
|I’ m a singer.
|I am a singer.
|My mother is a lawyer and my father is a worker.
|My mother is a lawyer, and my father is a worker.
|My favorite color is red.
|My favorite color is red.
|My favorite sports are running and tennis.
|My favorite sports are running and tennis.
|I’ m interested in music.
|I like music.
|I’ m not interested in science.
|I’m not interested in science.
The verb to be in English is conjugated, changes in persons and numbers.
To construct an affirmative sentence, we use the formula: pronoun + verb to be in the required form. The pronoun + to be can form abbreviations.
| he’ s
| we’ re
Examples of affirmative sentences.
- I’ m cold. Can you close the window please?
I’m cold. Can you close the window please?
- I’ m 27 years old. My brother is 24.
I am 27 years old. My brother is 24.
- Tanya is ill. She’ s in bed.
Tanya is sick. She is in bed.
- My sister is scared of mice.
My sister is afraid of mice.
- It’ s nine o’clock. You’ re on time.
It is now nine o’clock. You are on time.
- Pavel and I are good friends.
Pavel and I are good friends.
- Your phone are on the table.
Your phone is on the table.
- I’ m cold. Can you close the window please?
|I’ m not
| he’ s not / he isn’t
she’ s not / she isn’t
it’ s not / it isn’t
| we’ re not / we aren’t
you’ re not / you aren’t
they’ re not / they aren’t
Examples of negative sentences.