What's a declarative question?


Simple, declarative questions — that’s the best way to get answers from a Supreme Court nominee, a news commentator insisted recently. Just ask declarative questions.

I scoffed and filed the term in the corner of my mind home to “jumbo shrimp” and “military intelligence.” An oxymoron. A contradiction in terms. Nonsense.

But now, after doing a little research, I know better. “Declarative question” is neither nonsensical nor a contradiction in terms. Instead, it’s a mashup of two basic concepts: declarative and interrogative sentences.

All sentences come in one of four forms: declarative, interrogative, imperative or exclamatory.

A declarative sentence is a simple statement: You eat gluten.

An interrogative sentence is a question: Do you eat gluten?

An imperative sentence is a command: Eat gluten!

An exclamatory sentence is an exclamation: Gluten!

So if a declarative is a statement and an interrogative is a question, what's a declarative question? The answer is in my recent column.

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