sentence

[ sen-tns ]
/ ˈsɛn tns /

noun

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.
Law.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

verb (used with object), sen·tenced, sen·tenc·ing.

to pronounce sentence upon; condemn to punishment: The judge sentenced her to six months in jail.

Origin of sentence

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English < Old French < Latin sententia ‘opinion, decision’, equivalent to sent- (base of sentīre ‘to feel’) + -entia -ence; (v.) Middle English: ‘to pass judgment, decide judicially’ < Old French sentencier, derivative of sentence

Related forms

sen·tenc·er, nounpre·sen·tence, verb (used with object), pre·sen·tenced, pre·sen·tenc·ing.re·sen·tence, noun, verb (used with object), re·sen·tenced, re·sen·tenc·ing.un·sen·tenced, adjective

Grammar note

A sentence is the largest grammatical unit in language. It communicates a complete thought—an assertion, question, command, or exclamation. In general, assertions and questions—the overwhelming majority of sentences—require a subject and a verb, put together in a way that can stand alone, resulting in what is called an independent clause ( see main clause ): He kicked the ball is a sentence. After he kicked the ball is not a sentence; instead it is a dependent clause ( see subordinate clause ). Even though it has a subject and a verb, it needs to be connected to something in order to complete the assertion: After he kicked the ball, he fell down; or He fell down after he kicked the ball. In the case of commands, the subject need not be written because “you” is understood: Go home! means You go home! And exclamations clearly express excitement, alarm, anger, or the like with no need for either a subject or a verb: Wow! Gadzooks! Ouch!
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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sentences

British Dictionary definitions for sentences

sentence

/ (ˈsɛntəns) /

noun

verb

(tr) to pronounce sentence on (a convicted person) in a court of lawthe judge sentenced the murderer to life imprisonment

Derived Forms

sentential (sɛnˈtɛnʃəl), adjectivesententially, adverb

Word Origin for sentence

C13: via Old French from Latin sententia a way of thinking, from sentīre to feel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012