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Clause types

from English Grammar Today


There are four basic types of main clause: declaratives (statements), interrogatives
(questions), imperatives (orders/instructions) and exclamatives (used for exclamations).
In the examples below, x is any other element in the clause (e.g. object, predicative
complement):

Declarative clauses
Declarative clauses most commonly function as statements. The usual word order is subject
(s) + verb (v) + x. Declaratives can be affirmative or negative. They make statements about
how things are and how they are not.

affirmative
[S][V]I saw [X]them last week.
[S]Some courses [V]begin [X]in
January.

negative
[S]I [V]didnt see [X]them last week.
[S]Some courses [V]dont
begin [X]until March.

Sometimes we use declaratives as questions or requests:


A:
Those are the only tickets left? (question)
B:
Yes, just those two.
A:
You could pass me the spoon. That would be helpful. (request)
B:
This one?

Interrogative clauses
Interrogative clauses most commonly function as questions. The usual word order is (whword) + auxiliary/modal verb (aux/m) + subject + verb + x:
What [AUX] [S]are you [V]doing?
[AUX]Does [S]she [V]play [X]tennis well?
[M]Can [S] [V]I come [X]with you?
Interrogative clauses can be affirmative or negative.

affirmative
Are there any blue ones?
Why did he tell me?

negative
Arent there any blue ones?
Why didnt he tell me?

See also:

Questions
Negation

Imperative clauses
Imperative clauses most commonly function as commands, instructions or orders. The usual
word order is verb + x. We do not usually include the subject in an imperative clause. We
use the base form of the verb:

Come on. Hurry up!


Leave me alone!
Lets go.
Put it in the microwave for two minutes.
Imperative clauses can be affirmative or negative. We make negative imperatives with
auxiliary verb do + not. The contracted form dont is very common in speaking:

affirmative
Go!
Leave the door open.
Be happy.

negative
Dont go!
Dont leave the door open.
Dont be sad.

We use do not in more formal contexts:


[instructions on a jar of coffee]
Do not make coffee with boiling water.
We can use the short form dont as an imperative answer, or as a reaction to something:
A:
Shall I open the window?
B:
No, dont. Im freezing. (No, dont open the window.)

Imperatives with subject pronoun


Sometimes we use you (subject pronoun) with an imperative clause to make a command
stronger or to strengthen a contrast. It can sometimes sound impolite:
Dont you ever read my letters again.
[talking about washing up dishes]
You wash, Ill dry.
In informal speaking, we can use an indefinite subject (e.g. someone,somebody, no
one, nobody, everyone, everybody) with an imperative:
No one move. Everyone stay still.

Invitations
We often use an imperative to make an offer or invitation:
Have some more cake. Theres plenty there.

Imperatives with do
We sometimes use do for emphasis in an imperative clause, especially if we want to be very
polite:
Do sit down, please.

Imperatives with let


Spoken English:
In speaking we usually use lets for first person plural imperatives (us) to make a suggestion.
In more formal situations we use let us:
Lets go and eat.
Now, let us all get some sleep. (more formal)
For third person imperatives (him, her, it, them) we form an imperative clause with let:
A:
Mr Thomas is here to see you. Shall I send him in?
B:
Let him wait. Im busy.
See also:

Imperative clauses (Be quiet!)

Let, lets

Exclamative clauses
Exclamative clauses usually have one of the following word orders:
What + noun + subject + verb
How + adjective or adverb + subject + verb
Auxiliary or modal verb + subject + verb (i.e. interrogative word order)
We use exclamative clauses most commonly to express surprise or shock. In writing we use
an exclamation mark:
What a lovely sister you are!
How beautiful that house was!
Wasnt she great!
Didnt he sing well!
(Clause types from English Grammar Today Cambridge University Press.)