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Identifying Statements. The aim of this tutorial is to help you to distinguish statements from non-statements. Go to next slide. Statements are sentences that it makes sense to regard as being either true or false.

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Identifying Statements

The aim of this tutorial is to help you to distinguish statements from non-statements.

Go to next slide

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Statements are sentences that it makes sense to regard as being either true or false.

Put otherwise, a statement is a sentence that makes good grammatical sense when it is prefaced with the words "It is true that…" or "It is false that…"

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Here are some examples of statements:

Paris is the capital of France.

The South won the American Civil War.

Ford makes better trucks than Chevy.

Same-sex marriage should be legalized.

I wish Ashley would call.

I'm shocked!

Each of these sentences is a statement, because each makes an assertion that is either true or false.

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In thinking about statements, it is helpful to keep in mind the following points.

1. A single grammatical sentence can express two or more statements.

Example: Jill is a Democrat, but Matt is a Republican.

This is a compound sentence that expressed two distinct statements ("Jill is a Democrat" and "Matt is a Republican"). Each of these clauses is a statement, because each is capable of standing alone as a complete declarative sentence.

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Not all sentences are statements, i.e., sentences that assert that something is true or false.

Here are some examples of sentences that are not statements:

How was your summer? (question)

Pick up your room! (command)

Suffering succotash! (exclamation)

Hi! (greeting)

Let's go to the ball game tonight. (proposal)

None of these are statements, because none can sensibly be preceded by the phrases "It is true that…" or "It is false that…"

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3. A statement can be expressed by a phrase or a dependent clause rather than as a complete sentence.

Example: Considering Ian's near-perfect SAT scores, he should be able to get into an Ivy League college.

In this sentence, the phrase "considering Ian's near-perfect SAT scores" is a dependent clause that is not capable of standing alone as a complete sentence. Nevertheless, the intent of the speaker or writer is clearly to defend one claim ("Ian should be able to get into an Ivy League college") on the basis of another ("Ian made nearly perfect SAT scores"). For critical thinking purposes, therefore, it's important to recognize that there are two statements in this passage, rather than one.

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4. Rhetorical questions should be regarded as statements.

Rhetorical questions are sentences that have the grammatical form of questions but are meant to be understood as assertions.

Here are some examples of rhetorical questions:

 Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Isn't it time African Americans receive the reparations they deserve?

Don't you realize the tax-and-spend Democrats are leading this country straight into a recession?

The point of such "questions" is not to ask for information, but to make a positive assertion that the speaker or writer expects at least some of his readers or listeners to agree with. For that reason, rhetorical questions should be treated as statements rather than as questions.

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5. Ought imperatives should be regarded as statements.

Ought imperatives are sentences that have the grammatical form of imperatives (i.e., commands) but are intended to be understood as “ought statements,” i.e., statements that express a judgment about what ought to be done.

Here is an example of a passage that contains an ought imperative:

 Never fuel your vehicle while the motor is running. If for some reason the vehicle starts moving, it could cause a serious gasoline spill and possibly a fire or explosion.

In this passage, the sentence “Never fuel your vehicle while the motor is running” is an ought imperative. Although it has the grammatical form of an order or command, it really functions as a piece of advice. It is not an order but an emphatic way of saying “You shouldn’t fuel your vehicle while the motor is running.” Assertions about what a person ought or should do can be true or false. Thus, ought imperatives should be treated as statements.

This is the end of the tutorial