Chapter XV




1. A sentence is a unit of speech whose grammatical structure conforms to the laws of the language and which serves as the chief means of conveying a thought. A sentence is not only a means of communicating something about reality but also a means of showing the speaker's attitude to it.

2. The classification of simple sentences is based on two principles:

()according to the purpose of the utterance;

(b)according to the structure.

According to the purpose of the utterance we distinguish four kinds of sentences.

I. The declarative sentence.

A declarative sentence states a fact in the affirmative or negative form. In a declarative sentence the subject precedes the predicate. It is generally pronounced with a falling intonation.

Charles Dickens was born at Landport, Portsmouth. (Laing)


They don't want anything from us not even our respect. (Douglas)

There is a great difference between English and Russian negative sentences. Whereas in English the predicate of a sentence can have only one negation, in Russian it can have more than one.

He does not go anywhere.

He never goes anywhere.


2. The interrogative sentence.

An interrogative sentence asks a question. It is formed by means o inversion, i. e. by placing the predicate (or part of it) before the subject

(unless the subject of the interrogative sentence is an interrogative word, in which case there is no inversion; see Chapter XVI, 3).

There are four kinds of questions:

(a) General questions requiring the answer yes or no and spoken with a rising intonation. They are formed by placing the auxiliary or modal verb before the subject of the sentence.

Do you like art?

Can you speak English?

With the verb to have (expressing possession) the auxiliary verb do/does is used.

Do you have a car?

The usage of to have without the auxiliary verb is nowadays confined to very formal style.)

If the predicate is expressed by the verbs to be used in a simple tense form, the question is formed by placing the predicate before the subject.

Is he at home?

Sometimes such questions have a negative form and express astonishment or doubt.

Haven't you seen him yet?

In Russian the particles , are used in such questions. General questions are sometimes rhetoric questions, they do not require any answer, but are veiled statements expressing some kind demotion.

Can you commit a whole country to their own prisons? Will you

erect a gibbet in every field and hang men like scarecrows? (Byron)

In colloquial English questions may be formed without any inversion.

You know him?

You like the book?

(b) Special questions beginning with an interrogative word and spo~ ken with a falling intonation. The order of words is the same as in general questions, but the interrogative word precedes the auxiliary verb.

Where do you live?


When the interrogative word is the subject of the interrogative sentence or an attribute to the subject, the order of words is that of a statement, i. e. no inversion is used.

Who lives in this room?

Whose pen is on the table?

(c) Alternative questions, indicating choice and spoken with a rising intonation in the first part and a falling intonation in the second part.

Do you live in town or in the country?

(d) Disjunctive questions requiring the answer jes or no and consisting of an affirmative statement followed by a negative question, or a negative statement followed by an affirmative question. The first part is spoken with a falling intonation and the second part with a rising intonation.

You speak English, don't you?

You are not tired, are you?

Note. With the first person singular of the verb to be, besides am I not-- aren 7 7?is very widely used, especially in British English, whereas ain 7/1 usually considered nonstandard, is somewhat more current in American English than in British English.

I'm clever, am I not (aren't I)?


3. The imperative sentence.1

An imperative sentence serves to induce a person to do something, so it expresses a command, a request, an invitation, etc. Commands are characterized by a falling tone.

Come to the blackboard!

Stop talking!

Requests and invitations are characterized by a rising intonation. Open the door, please!

Do come to see me tomorrow!

4. The exclamatory sentence.

An exclamatory sentence expresses some kind of emotion or feeling. It often begins with the words what and how, it is always in the declarative form, i. e. no inversion takes place. It is generally spoken with a falling intonation.

What a lovely day it is!

What fine weather! How wonderful! Beautiful!


3. According to their structure simple sentences are divided into two-member and one-member sentences.

A two-member sentence has two members a subject and a Predicate. If one of them is missing it can be easily understood from context.

See the formation of the Imperative Mood (Chapter VII, Mood).


Fleur had established immediate contact with an architect (Galsworthy)

A two-member sentence may be complete or incomplete. It is complete when it has a subject and a predicate.

Young Jolyon could not help smiling. (Galsworthy)

It is incomplete when one of the principal parts or both of them are missing, but can be easily understood from the context. Such sentences are called elliptical and are mostly used in colloquial speech and especially in dialogue.

Best not to see her again. Best to forget all about her. (Abrahams)

What were you doing? Drinking. (Shaw)

Who does it for Mr. George? James, of course. (Galsworthy)

Where were you yesterday? At the cinema.

A one-member sentence is a sentence having only one member which is neither the subject nor the predicate. This does not mean, however, that the other member is missing, for the one member makes the sense complete.

One-member sentences are generally used in descriptions and in emotional speech.

If the main part of a one-member sentence is expressed by a noun, the sentence is called nominal. The noun may be modified by attributes.

Dusk of a summer night. (Dreiser)

Freedom! Bells ringing out, flowers, kisses, wine. (Heym)

The dull pain and the life slowly dripping out of him. (Heym)

The main part of a one-member sentence is often expressed by an infinitive.

No! To have his friendship, his admiration, but not at that price(Galsworthy)

To die out there lonely, wanting them, wanting home! (Galsworthy)


4. Simple sentences, both two-member and one-member, can unextended and extended. A sentence consisting only of the prima^ or principal parts is called an unextended sentence.

She is a student.

Birds fly.


An extended sentence is a sentence consisting of the subject, the predicate and one or more secondary parts (objects, attributes, or adverbial modifiers).

The two native women stole furtive glances at Sarie. (Abrahams)

The two white overseers... had gone into the hills with the natives to look for stray sheep. (Abrahams)


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