I'm working on a project in which I take sentences and clauses from utterances and distinguish their syntactic structure (declarative, interrogative, imperative). I've encountered three clauses that are difficult for me to recognize. All with the word "please". I'm providing some context to them, because it might be needed, especially to the second one.

The first one is: "A little more confidence, please."

In the first one, the speaker requests more confidence from the hearer.

The second one: "Please."

The third one: "Please, you can have anything."

In the second and the third one, the speaker basically begs for his life.

  • 1
    How can you have clauses without verbs?
    – tchrist
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 17:53
  • (1) and (2) are sentence substitutes, the first exhibiting typical conversational deletion (eg "Let us try to show a little more confidence, please.") (3) twins a sentence substitute ("Please don't harm me", say) with a main clause. After 'Please', a comma will do ... a semicolon is too heavy duty. Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 18:03
  • declarative, interrogative, imperative are types of sentences, not types of clauses.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 16, 2022 at 18:32
  • Declarative, interrogative, imperative are the major clause types in English. The word 'sentence'' is irrelevant here, since clauses may or may not form whole sentences. In any case, "sentence" is not a grammatical term as such.
    – BillJ
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 6:20
  • A sentence is or is not grammatical. A sentence is or is not a grammar term.
    – Lambie
    Commented Oct 11, 2022 at 23:41

1 Answer 1


These are not sentences, not even clauses. There is no expressed verb, so trying to categorise it as declarative etc is a bit pointless.

In the first case this request could have been phrased with an imperative:

Give us a little more confidence, please.

or as an interrogative:

Could we have a little more confidence, please?

But the original utterance isn't a clause. It doesn't have a verb and so doesn't have an interrogative or imperative structure.

Generally, requests in English can be made with imperatives or with interrogatives, with the interrogative form being rather more tentative and polite. You can also make a request with a simple noun phrase and the word "please".

Not every utterance in English is a sentence. In conversation it is very common to use fragments of sentences:

What's that?

A pencil. (not a sentence)

Do you want a pencil?

Yes. (not a sentence)

What would you like?

Some cake, please. (not a sentence)

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