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It is said that there are 5 kinds of sentences : declarative, interrogative, propositive (exhortative), imperative and exclamative sentences. But is it true ? How can the intonation variation be described with words for each kind of sentences ? Does this variation depends on the termination of the sentence for any kind of sentences ?

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  • Propositive is not considered a main kind of sentences. It is usually categorized as imperative Feb 10 '17 at 15:37
  • So, by reading the answers and searching on the internet, I can say there are 6 kind of sentences : declarative, interrogative, promissive, propositive (exhortative), imperative and exclamative sentences. Well, how can the intonation variation be described with words for promissive sentences ? Does this variation depends on the termination of the sentence for promissive sentences ? Feb 14 '17 at 9:23
  • @TripleDragonVolant I think so, yes - more informal promissives will often be made in a 'sing-song' or high-toned voice, while more formal ones might simply sound like straightforward declarative sentences.
    – topo morto
    Feb 14 '17 at 9:52
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I'll use Korean terms for that:

평서형(declarative)ㆍ감탄형(exclamative)ㆍ의문형(interrogative)ㆍ명령형(imperative)ㆍ청유형(propositive).

The kinds of sentences depend on the final verb endings(종결 어미), or "the termination", as you call it. But there are final verb endings which belong to more than one of these categories, namely -어/-아.

나는 지금 밥 먹어. --평서형(declarative)
아이, 예뻐. --감탄형(exclamative)
뭐가 그리 우스워? --의문형(interrogative)
어서 와. --명령형(imperative)

In this case, you'll need to deduce what kind of sentence it is by context, or innotation.

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  • MujjinGun is right. sentence ending gives it away most of the time. an example of a sentence in which the intonation must derive the type would be 가세요 which could either be 의문형(interrogative) or 명령형(imperative) - however, in modern 한글 an exclamation point would serve to clarify that. although in archaic 한글 without western punctuation the sentence endings likely varied in a way that clarified the sentence type. that might be another interesting question to explore. Feb 11 '17 at 14:05
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It is said that there are 5 kinds of sentences : declarative, interrogative, propositive (exhortative), imperative and exclamative sentences. But is it true ?

Well, you could divide them up like that, but different people might split them up differently. Super Cool Handsome Gel Boy in his comment doesn't see propositives as separate, while this book doesn't consider 'exclamatory' as a separate type. This source says "there are at most 5 clause types; declarative, interrogative, imperative, exhortative, and promissive (the last three can even be grouped into one clause type, jussives)."

So however you classify things, it's always going to be a bit opinion-based.

How can the intonation variation be described with words for each kind of sentences ?

I think that's quite a broad question, when you consider how many different endings there are for each function, and also all the other reasons why intonation might vary for a given sentence (depending on what part of the sentence is being emphasised, for example). However, very broadly, I'd say

  • Declarative sentences tend to have quite flat intonation, with downward inflection at the end.
  • Interrogative sentences tend to rise at the end.
  • Propositive sentence intonations do depend on the ending. Something like '갑시다' or '가자' might be said in an almost singing, 'broadcast' style, with a flat high tone. On the other hand, a propositive ending like ㄹ까(요)? or (으)면 어때요? might have a rising inflection at the end, more like a question.
  • Imperative intonations depend a lot on mood (angry, sympathetic, etc.)
  • Exclamative intonations are often specific to the particular exclamation.
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hmm.. You are interested in intonation. You are right. Korean meanings can be different according to intonation. The best way is to hear directly from native speakers. So I will give you examples with simple explanations. Just ask your Korean friends to read them following each intonation.

평서형(declarative) : 밥먹어. 이뻐: There isn't any accents. Monotone.
감탄형(exclamative) : 와~ 완전 이뻐! : Difficult to describe this intonation in letters. You have to hear it. '밥먹어' cannot be exclamative.

의문형(interrogative) : 밥 먹어? 이뻐? : End the sentences with high tone.
명령형(imperative) : 밥 먹어!! : End the sentence with forceful voice. "이뻐" cannot be imperative. 청유형(propositive) : 밥 먹어~~ : End the sentence with long~ voice."이뻐" cannot be propositive.

I made two examples because some words cannot be used as some forms of sentences. I focused on intonation. According to intonation, the meaning and nuance can be different even though they are totally the same words.

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