Identifying Types of Sentences the Easy Way

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Identifying types of sentences is a skill kids need to be able to master in elementary school.  And, it’s actually quite simple to teach if you use engaging books and sentence activities.

But before you jump into any activities, you need to make sure your kids understand that there are four unique types of sentences and what characteristics make each sentence different.

The Four Types of Sentences

When children are in early elementary, they are first introduced to two types of sentences called telling and asking sentences.  They have a basic understanding of the differences between these two.

Then once they’ve had practice with these two types, the third type, exclamatory sentences, are introduced. Generally at this point, they also recognize the three different types of ending punctuation including the period, question mark, and exclamation point.

Once they’ve mastered understanding of the three types of ending punctuation, they’re ready to tackle the proper names used when identifying types of sentences.

1.  Declarative Sentences

Declarative sentences are statements that end with a period and are the most commonly occurring sentences.  Here are a few examples.

  • My name is Jennifer, and I am a teacher.
  • She will walk to the store.
  • The dog is running quickly to get away from the screaming children.

Declarative sentences simply provide information and are known as “telling” sentences.  

2. Imperative Sentences

Imperative sentences are a lot like declarative sentences.  However, an imperative sentence is a command as opposed to a general statement.  Here are a couple of examples.

  • Do your homework.
  • Walk the dog before you leave for school.
  • Wash your hands.

A little trick, to help your students when identifying types of sentences is to add the word “please” to the beginning of the sentence.  

If you can add “please” and the sentence still makes sense, then it’s imperative.  If you try to add “please” and it doesn’t make sense, it’s declarative.

3. Exclamatory Sentences

Exclamatory sentences are those sentences that are filled with feeling.  Typically, we speak or write exclamatory sentences when we are experiencing extreme emotions.  Here are some examples.

  • Look out!
  • Congratulations!
  • The tornado is headed this way!

Each of these is said with a lot of emotion and that is what qualifies them as exclamatory sentences.

4. Interrogative Sentences

Interrogative sentences are those that are asking a question.  These are the ones that very young kids will call “asking” sentences.  The most common interrogative question words are “Who, What, Where, When, How, Why.”

Here are a few examples.

  • What time is it?
  • Who are you?
  • Where should we meet?
  • How long will you be gone?

Interrogative questions are usually fairly easy for kids to understand…but don’t be surprised if they have issues remembering the name of this particular type of sentence.

Identifying Types of Sentences with Books

Kids can become interested in almost any subject if you expose them to the right books.  There are an endless number of fantastic books, but these are five of my favorites for introducing students to types of sentences (and other punctuation marks).

1. Exclamation Mark

This book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld is always a crowd-pleaser.  My students used to beg me to read it over and over again.  The story follows an exclamation mark that feels frustrated at being different.  But, one day he meets a question mark that helps him discover who he is and how special he is.

2. Frog. Frog? Frog!

This is an engaging story written by Nancy Loewen that follows a family with members who can only speak in one kind of sentence.  And, even the characters names reflect the type of sentences they can speak. (I actually bought this book many years ago in a set, and it isn’t currently available on Amazon. However, you can purchase it from other places by just Googling the title.) So, this would be a perfect book to introduce your kids to the different sentence types!

3. When & Why Did the Horse Fly?

This book by Cari Meister helps students understand the significance of question words.  In this silly story, a horse wants to fly, so he enlists the help of a beaver to help him create a flying car.  Throughout the story, the horse asks questions using different questioning words.  It’s the perfect companion to help students grasp the types of words associated with questions and how those words relate to sentences in general.

4. Punctuation Takes a Vacation

This story by Robin Pulver is about a teacher who lets punctuation take a vacation.  But, the students soon realize just how important punctuation is!  If your kids are really enjoying learning about the characteristics and types of ending punctuation, consider adding this book to your read-aloud schedule.  It will get them thinking about other types of punctuation including commas, colons, apostrophes, and quotation marks, too.

5. Eats, Shoots & Leaves

This book by Lynne Truss is hilarious!  Although the focus of this story is on the importance of commas, your students will love it.  It would be an excellent extension text for students who need more rigorous activities or who are fascinated with different types of punctuation. But, honestly, it’s just a great read aloud book for everyone.

Interactive Sentence Activities

Incorporating interactive sentence activities into your teaching will provide your students with the opportunity to practice the new skills they are learning.

That’s why I created this Types of Sentences resource for my students. It incorporates all of my favorite teaching techniques including movement, cutting, gluing, and collaboration.

4 Corner Game

One of my favorite ways to practice identifying types of sentences is with a “four corner” game.  To play this game, place individual anchor charts into the four corners of your room.  (If you can’t actually stick them into the corner, just put them close.) 

Each anchor chart should have one specific punctuation mark or the name of one type of sentence (declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory). Then hand out sentence cards (without punctuation) for your students to match to the anchor charts around the room.

It is super-easy and a great way to incorporate movement into your lessons.

Sentence Matching

Another great way to add an interactive component to your sentence activities is to have your kids play the sentence matching game. Each student gets a sentence without punctuation. Then they have to find other students with the same type of sentence.

By the end, there should be four groups of kids that represent each of the four types of sentences. Trust me when I tell you that kids enjoy debating whether a sentence belongs in one group or another. This often leads to excellent discussions about the fact that many sentences could qualify as imperative or exclamatory depending on how the person spake the sentence.

Sentence Cut & Paste

The last part of this resource that students love is the sentence cut & paste. This can be completed as a partner activity or even as an assessment. It is the perfect way for you to see which students have mastered identifying types of sentences and which students need more practice with this skill.

By introducing the sentence types and corresponding punctuation marks, giving your students time to practice the skill, and then allowing them to interact with their own sentences, you will have sentence identifying gurus in no time!