- Grammar. a grammatical unit of one or more words that expresses an independent statement, question, request, command, exclamation, etc., and that typically has a subject as well as a predicate, as in John is here. or Is John here? In print or writing, a sentence typically begins with a capital letter and ends with appropriate punctuation; in speech it displays recognizable, communicative intonation patterns and is often marked by preceding and following pauses.
- an authoritative decision; a judicial judgment or decree, especially the judicial determination of the punishment to be inflicted on a convicted criminal: Knowledgeable sources say that the judge will announce the sentence early next week.
- the punishment itself; term: a three-year sentence.
- Music. a complete idea, usually consisting of eight to sixteen measures; period(def 18).See also phrase(def 4).
- Archaic. a saying, apothegm, or maxim.
- Obsolete. an opinion given on a particular question.
- to pronounce sentence upon; condemn to punishment: The judge sentenced her to six months in jail.
Origin of sentence
In everyday speech we routinely use phrases or clauses that would not make a complete sentence—so-called sentence fragments —because the conversation or the circumstances make the meaning clear. For example, we might answer a question like “Where did you go?” with “To the store,” or “Why can’t I stay out till midnight?” with “Because I say so,” or “What are you doing?” with “Trying to fix this toaster,” instead of “I went to the store,” “You can't stay out that late because I say so,” or “I am trying to fix this toaster.” In written dialogue sentence fragments are perfectly acceptable. They would generally be regarded as sentences simply because they begin with a capital letter and end with a suitable punctuation mark. But they are not sentences in a strict grammatical sense. And as a rule, sentence fragments are frowned upon in formal or expository writing. They can be useful—indeed, powerful—but in such writing they are effective only if used sparingly, in order to achieve a deliberate special effect: We will not give up fighting for this cause. Not now. Not ever.
Examples from the Web for sentences
Both Ney and Abramoff have reentered the public spotlight following their sentences, writing books about their experiences.Abramoff’s Advice for Virginia’s New Jailhouse Guv
Tim Mak, Jackie Kucinich
January 7, 2015
The now-convicted felons will hear their sentences in January, but their story continues to spiral downward.2014 Was a Delectably Good Year for Sleaze
December 30, 2014
Even when he opens up, the sentences are wooden, the scenes sucked dry of emotion.The Story of the World’s Greatest Cricket Player
December 24, 2014
Short trials produce convictions and sentences, but the time is often run concurrently, not adding any time to the sentence.
Sentences making such outcomes inevitable were once rare, but many inmates are serving them now.
His notes on special words and on the construction of sentences are often very interesting.Apu Ollantay
He took a good deal of time and coughed between the sentences.The Gentleman From Indiana
With grains that feed the Cannon's breath, And boom his sentences of death!
The sentences that precede that quoted by Sir Martin are Greek in tendency.Albert Durer
T. Sturge Moore
The sentences were not of his framing; the ideas were utterly foreign to him.
- a sequence of words capable of standing alone to make an assertion, ask a question, or give a command, usually consisting of a subject and a predicate containing a finite verb
- the judgment formally pronounced upon a person convicted in criminal proceedings, esp the decision as to what punishment is to be imposed
- an opinion, judgment, or decision
- music another word for period (def. 11)
- any short passage of scripture employed in liturgical usethe funeral sentences
- logic a well-formed expression, without variables
- archaic a proverb, maxim, or aphorism
- (tr) to pronounce sentence on (a convicted person) in a court of lawthe judge sentenced the murderer to life imprisonment
Word Origin and History for sentences
c.1200, "doctrine, authoritative teaching; an authoritative pronouncement," from Old French sentence "judgment, decision; meaning; aphorism, maxim; statement of authority" (12c.) and directly from Latin sententia "thought, way of thinking, opinion; judgment, decision," also "a thought expressed; aphorism, saying," from sentientem, present participle of sentire "be of opinion, feel, perceive" (see sense (n.)). Loss of first -i- in Latin by dissimilation.
From early 14c. as "judgment rendered by God, or by one in authority; a verdict, decision in court;" from late 14c. as "understanding, wisdom; edifying subject matter." From late 14c. as "subject matter or content of a letter, book, speech, etc.," also in reference to a passage in a written work. Sense of "grammatically complete statement" is attested from mid-15c. "Meaning," then "meaning expressed in words." Related: Sentential.
"to pass judgment," c.1400, from sentence (n.). Related: Sentenced; sentencing.