The items we have established as a result of comparing the two sentences given earlier certainly do not exhaust all the possible grammatical features a sentence can be shown to possess. They were only meant to illustrate the method to be applied if a reasonable grammatical classification of sentences is to be achieved. If we were to take another pair or other pairs of sentences and proceed to compare them in a similar way we should arrive at some more grammatical distinctions which have to be taken into account in making up a classification. We will not give any more examples but we will take up the grammatical classification of sentences in a systematic way.
It is evident that there are two principles of classification. Applying one of them,
we obtain a classification into declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences.
We can call this principle that of types of communication [31, 64].
The other classification is according to structure. Here we state two main types: simple sentences and composite sentences. We will not now go into the question of a further subdivision of composite sentences, or into the question of possible intermediate types between simple and composite ones. These questions will be treated later on.
Types of sentences according to types of communication: declarative, interrogative and imperative.
Sentences belonging to the several types differ from each other in some grammatical points, too. Thus, interrogative sentences are characterized by a special word order. In interrogative sentences very few modal words are used, as the meanings of some modal words are incompatible with the meaning of an interrogative sentence. It is clear that modal words expressing full certainty, such as certainly, surely, naturally, cannot appear in a sentence expressing a question. On the other hand, the modal word indeed, with its peculiar shades of meaning, is quite possible in interrogative sentences, for instance, Is not so indeed? (W.W. Shakespeare)
There are also sentences which might be termed semi interrogative. The third sentence in the following passage belongs to this type:
“Well, I daresay that is more revealing about poor George than you. At any rate, he seems to have survived it”. “Oh, you have seen him”? She did not particularly mark her question for an answer, but it was, after all, the pivot point, and Bone found himself replying – that indeed he had (T.E. Buechner). The sentence “Oh, you’ve seen him” is half way between the affirmative declarative sentence, you have seen him, and the interrogative sentence, have you seen him? Let us proceed to find out the precise characteristics of the sentence in the text as against the two sentences just given for the sake of comparison. From the syntactical viewpoint, the sentence is declarative, as the mutual position of subject and predicate is, you have seen, not have you seen, which would be the interrogative order. In what way or ways does it, then, differ from a usual declarative sentence? That is where the question of the intonation comes in. Whether the question mark at the end of the sentence does or does not mean that the intonation is not that typical of a declarative sentence, is hard to tell, though it would rather seems that it does. To be certain about this a phonetic experiment should be undertaken, but in this particular case the author gives a context which itself goes some way toward settling the question. The author’s words, she did not particularly mark tier question for an answer, seem to refer to the intonation with which it was pronounced: the intonation must not have been clearly interrogative, that is not clearly rising, though it must have differed from the regular falling intonation to some extent: if it had not been at all different, the sentence could not have been termed a question, and the author does call it a question. Reacting to this semi interrogative intonation, Bone the man to whom the question was addressed answered in the affirmative. It seems the best way, on the whole, to term such sentences semi interrogative. Their purpose of course is to utter a somewhat hesitating statement and to expect the other person to confirm it [32, 64].
Imperative sentences also show marked peculiarities in the use of modal words. It is quite evident, for example, that modal words expressing possibility, such as perhaps, maybe, possibly, are incompatible with the notion of order or request. Indeed, modal words are hardly used at all in imperative sentences.
The notion of exclamatory sentences and their relation to the three established types of declarative, interrogative, and imperative sentences presents some difficulty. It would seem that the best way to deal with it is this. On the one hand, every sentence, whether narrative, interrogative, or imperative, may be exclamatory at the same time, that is, it may convey the speaker’s feelings and be characterized by emphatic intonation and by an exclamation mark in writing. This may be seen in the following examples: but he cannot do anything to you! What can he possibly do to you! Scarlett, spare me!
On the other hand, a sentence may be purely exclamatory, that is, it may not belong to any of the three types classed above. This would be the case in the following examples: “Well, fiddle-dee-dee!” said Scarlett. Oh, for God’s sake, Henry! (M.H. Mitchell).
However, it would perhaps be better to use different terms for sentences which are purely exclamatory, and thus constitute a special type, and those which add an emotional element to their basic quality, which is either declarative, or interrogative, or imperative. If this view is endorsed, we should have our classification of sentences according to type of communication thus modified (see Appendix C):
1) declarative (including emotional ones);
2) interrogative (including emotional ones);
3) imperative (including emotional ones);
This view would avoid the awkward contradiction of exclamatory sentences constituting a special type and belonging to the first three types at the same time.
Types of sentences according to structure are simple and composite [33, 89].
The relations between the two classifications should now be considered.
It is plain that a simple sentence can be either declarative, or interrogative, or imperative. But things are somewhat more complicated with reference to composite sentences. If both or all clauses making up a composite sentence are declarative, the composite sentence as a whole is of course declarative too. And so it is bound to be in every case when both or all clauses making a composite sentence belong to the same type of communication that is the case in an overwhelming majority of examples. Sometimes, however, composite sentences are found which consist of clauses belonging to different types of communication. Here it will sometimes he impossible to say to what type of communication the composite sentence as a whole belongs. We will take up this question when we come to the composite sentence.
Some other questions connected with the mutual relation of the two classifications will be considered as we proceed.
We will now study the structure of the simple sentence and the types of simple sentences.
First of all we shall have to deal with the problem of negative sentences. The problem, briefly stated, is this: do negative sentences constitute a special grammatical type, and if so, what are its grammatical features? In other words, if we say, this is a negative sentence, do we thereby give it a grammatical description?
The difficulty of the problem lies in the peculiarity of negative expressions in modern English. Let us take two sentences, both negative in meaning: she did not know when she would be seeing any of them again. Helen’s tremendous spell – perhaps no one ever quite escaped from it. They are obviously different in their ways of expressing negation. In first sentence we see a special form of the predicate verb which is due to the negative character of the sentence and is in so far a grammatical sign of its being negative. In second sentence, on the other hand, there is no grammatical feature to show that the sentence is negative. Indeed, there is no grammatical difference whatever between the sentences nobody saw him and everybody saw him. The difference lies entirely in the meaning of the pronouns functioning as subject, that is to say, it is lexical, not grammatical. The same is of course true of such sentences as found nobody and found everybody. On the other hand, in the sentence, did not find anybody there is again a grammatical feature, the form of the predicate verb [34, 73].
The conclusion to be drawn from these observations is obviously this. Since in a number of cases negative sentences are not characterized as such by any grammatical peculiarities, they are not a grammatical type. They are a logical type, which may or may not be reflected in grammatical structure. Accordingly, the division' of sentences into affirmative and negative ought not to be included into their grammatical classification.
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