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What Is an Exclamative Sentence?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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An exclamative sentence is a sentence that is used to dramatically emphasize an idea. This type of sentence is part of a number of general categories of sentences. It is useful in a survey of English-language syntax.

The exclamative sentence complements three other main types of sentences in English. These are the declarative, interrogative and imperative sentences. Those who are experienced in defining English syntax often see exclamative sentences as a bit different. Where the other three categories have a more defined function, exclamative sentences simply express the speaker’s thought in a more emphatic way. For example, the interrogative sentence elicits a response, and the imperative sentence asks the listener to obey a command. The exclamative sentence, by contrast, functions more as an emotional appeal.

In considering the various ways that different types of sentences use syntax, English learners can get a lot from thinking about how exclamative sentences work. These sentences come in various syntactic forms. Some are presented much like a textbook display of a grammatically correct declarative sentence, while others are composed of sentence fragments or other kinds of syntax. In addition, exclamative sentences may utilize a wide variety of adjectives and other words from the English lexicon to call attention to themselves. In general, beginners in English can look at the language that is used in exclamative sentences to learn more about current slang and how native English speakers most commonly communicate with each other.

An example of strange or irregular syntax in exclamative sentences is a sentence that starts with “what” or “how.” For example, an English speaker might say to someone: “How big you’ve grown!” Here, the noun and verb combination is delayed until after the modifier.

The same thought can be expressed another way. Someone might say “You’ve grown big!” This is still an exclamative sentence. It uses the more common grammatical form. The noun, in this case a pronoun, begins the sentence. The verb follows. An adjective ends the sentence.

These basic forms of an exclamative sentence are just primary examples of the many ways that an English speaker can phrase this type of sentence. Typically, English speakers use phrases like “It’s amazing” at the beginning of the sentence to indicate emphasis. The inflections and tone of the speech also helps listeners identify many exclamative sentences when spoken. Written exclamative sentences, on the other hand must rely on other cues, including the exclamation mark itself.

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Discussion Comments
By MissDaphne — On Aug 04, 2011

@EdRick: No, sentences with exclamation marks can be either exclamatory (that's what I call them, too) or imperative.

There are two main types of exclamatory sentences: the old lady type that start with a question word ("How tall you've grown! Why, you're taller than your father now!") and the type that is basically a declarative sentence with great urgency ("The house is on fire!" "The British are coming!")

Imperative sentences with exclamation points are easy to spot because they will not have a subject and they often start with a verb. ("Run for your life!" "Duck!" "Quick, hide in the closet!")

Hope that helps. Good luck with the homework!

By stoltzfus — On Aug 03, 2011

Exclamatory sentences and exclamative sentences are the same thing. As for the exclamation points, this is tricky, since some imperative sentences can also have them.

By EdRick — On Aug 03, 2011

Are all sentences with exclamation marks exclamative sentences? (And are these the same as exclamatory sentences? I think that's what my son's teacher calls them.)

He's been bringing home sentence types worksheets and I want to help him with them.

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