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  1. #1
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Are they all imperatives or statements?

    Dear teachers,
    I have been thinking about the following sentence structures for a very long time, but cannot figure out a satisfactory interpretation. I would like you, especially native speakers of English, to help me with them. My question is, Are they all imperatives or statements?
    1. God bless America. (I often hear it at the end of President Barack Obama's speeches)
    2. Thank you.
    3. Woe betide you if you arrive late again.
    I am especially interested in "Thank you", as it comes in the form of an imperative just like "Answer my question." We can make the imperative "Answer my question." complete in form by adding the subject "You"saying "You please anwer my question". However, it is against the common sense and also hilarious to restore the completeness of "Thank you." by saying "You thank you."
    So, are the above sentences imperatives or statements? Please explain your understanding(s) of these sentence structures in as much detail as possible. Thanks a lot.
    Richard

  2. #2
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    1. God bless America. - a wish or hope
    2. Thank you. (I) thank you
    3. Woe betide you if you arrive late again. - a threat or wish

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    1. God bless America. - a wish or hope
    2. Thank you. (I) thank you
    3. Woe betide you if you arrive late again. - a threat or wish
    Indeed, but are they imperative or declarative?
    "Have a good time" and "I hope you have a good time" are both a wish or a hope, but one is imperative and the other is not.

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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Indeed, but are they imperative or declarative?
    . I try to avoid questions about labelling, but I wasn't thinking clearly when I stepped into this thread. (I noticed that you didn't answer the question, Ray.) Well the four types of sentences that some claim that there are are exclamatory, imperative, interrogative, and declarative. "I thank you"seems to be pretty clearly declarative. Neither of the others is interrogative. So, let's look at:

    (May) God bless America
    (May) woe betide you

    Exclamatory?
    Hmm.
    Declamatory? Hmmm.
    Imperative? Hmmmm.

    I'd go for Optative if that were an option, but it isn't.

    I think I'll pass.
    Last edited by 5jj; 07-May-2013 at 20:29.

  5. #5
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    I declare that it is imperative that we not label.

  6. #6
    5jj's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    I exclaim my agreement.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    (I noticed that you didn't answer the question, Ray.)
    True, I didn't answer it either, because I'm unsure about the classifications of these "God bless America" statements. They used to be imperative when I went to school, which would make 1 and 3 imperative, and 2 declarative, or exclamatory if it had an exclamation point on it.

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    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    True, I didn't answer it either, because I'm unsure about the classifications of these "God bless America" statements. They used to be imperative when I went to school, which would make 1 and 3 imperative, and 2 declarative, or exclamatory if it had an exclamation point on it.
    To my understanding, an imperative may not be an order; it can also be a petition, like "Please give me a big hug." And "God bless America" may be interpreted as petitioning God to bless America rather than ordering Him to serve us. In this sense, I agree with you that "1 and 3 imperative, and 2 declarative, or exclamatory".

  9. #9
    ohmyrichard is offline Member
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    I find this "Thank you" really interesting. We all tend to think that it is the shortened form of the declarative"I thank you", but to my understanding, the restoration of "I thank you" is somewhat awkward. Unlike "I thanked him yesterday evening", how can we use this statement of "I thank you", which is stating a fact, to thank someone? Or, is "I thank you", like "I love you", a feeling conveyed in language? I find nothing wrong with "I love you" used this way, but I find "I thank you" if intended to be used this way quite difficult to understand. Why not instead say "I would like to thank you now" or "I am thanking you"? But the latter "I am thanking you" seems to imply that the person I am thanking is not listening to me and I am blaming him or her for their inattention. It is as if I am saying "Hey, I am thanking you. Why are you not steering your ears my way?"

    Besides, I think "thank" usually is not used in the simple present unless we are telling a fable, which tends to use this tense, saying, for example,"The rabbit thanks the fox and then leaves. " or writing a VOA English teaching program, which also often uses the simple tense to tell a fabricated story. Coming to this place of my reasoning, I think of the use of "love". Again to my understanding, which may be wrong as I am a nonnative who is unable to develop that feel you native speakers enjoy for the English language, "love" is conversely seldom used in the the present continuous tense unless you are kissing someone or having sex with that person. However, quite ironically, McDonald chants "I'm lovin' it".

    My reasoning may sound weird, but I do think about this issue this non-native way.

  10. #10
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Default Re: Are they all imperatives or statements?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    I find this "Thank you" really interesting. We all tend to think that it is the shortened form of the declarative"I thank you", but to my understanding, the restoration of "I thank you" is somewhat awkward. Unlike "I thanked him yesterday evening", how can we use this statement of "I thank you", which is stating a fact, to thank someone? Or, is "I thank you", like "I love you", a feeling conveyed in language? I find nothing wrong with "I love you" used this way, but I find "I thank you" if intended to be used this way quite difficult to understand. Why not instead say "I would like to thank you now" or "I am thanking you"? But the latter "I am thanking you" seems to imply that the person I am thanking is not listening to me and I am blaming him or her for their inattention. It is as if I am saying "Hey, I am thanking you. Why are you not steering your ears my way?"

    Besides, I think "thank" usually is not used in the simple present unless we are telling a fable, which tends to use this tense, saying, for example,"The rabbit thanks the fox and then leaves. " or writing a VOA English teaching program, which also often uses the simple tense to tell a fabricated story. Coming to this place of my reasoning, I think of the use of "love". Again to my understanding, which may be wrong as I am a nonnative who is unable to develop that feel you native speakers enjoy for the English language, "love" is conversely seldom used in the the present continuous tense unless you are kissing someone or having sex with that person. However, quite ironically, McDonald chants "I'm lovin' it".

    My reasoning may sound weird, but I do think about this issue this non-native way.
    "Thank you" is an expressive illocutionary speech act. It has the perlocutionary effect of letting the hearer know that the speaker is grateful.
    Speech act - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It's declarative, but it's also a performative act. If you want to explain it in the model of "Declarative, Interrogative, Emphatic, Exclamation" then it's not the latter three, hence it's the first. But it can be described in other ways, depending on whose theory of speech acts you want to use.

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