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I declare a new year: back up your declarations with do-clarations

By Curtis Honeycutt

Did you know there are four types of sentences in the English language? A complete sentence in English falls into one of these categories: declarative, exclamatory, imperative and interrogatory. Out of all of these types of sentences, we hear and read the declarative sentence most often.

One of my favorite declarative sentences in pop culture is when Michael Scott, regional manager of the Scranton branch of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in The Office, walks into the eponymous office and announces, “I declare bankruptcy.” The accounting department proceeds to tell Michael that you can’t just “declare” bankruptcy, but you actually have to fill out paperwork to achieve legal bankruptcy status.

A declarative sentence makes a statement, provides an explanation, or communicates a fact or information. You’ll find declarative sentence (or declarative statements) written in the present tense, and they usually end in periods. In Michael Scott’s case, I would guess the bankruptcy line in the script ended with an exclamation point.

Among the declarative statements, we have two types: the simple declarative statement and the compound declarative statement. The simple declarative statements are just that – simple. They include a subject and a predicate: I have red hair. The Chiefs won the football game. Potatoes grow underground.

A compound declarative sentence combines two phrases that have connected thoughts with a comma (or sometimes a semicolon)  and a coordinating conjunction. In the case of compound declarative sentences that use semicolons, you’ll often find a transition word such as however or so following the semicolon. Byron doesn’t believe in the moon landing, but I do believe in it. We ran out of nachos, so everyone left the party early. You can say there’s no such thing as Santa, but as for me and Grandpa, we believe. Forgive the improper “me and grandpa” in the previous sentence; I was simply quoting a seasonal song.

At the dawn of a new year, we’re inclined to make broad, aspirational declarative sentences about our hopes for the next 12 months; we call them “New Year’s resolutions.” “I am going to lose weight.” In order to make these things happen, you must accompany your declarative sentence with some intentional action. Make a plan. Schedule your dream. Find someone to hold you accountable. Put motivational post-its around your house. Back up your declarations with do-clarations, and your 2021 will shape up to be a fantastic year.

—Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life. Find more at curtishoneycutt.com.

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