What Are Statements? Definition and Examples
|The trains are always late.||Welcome to the University of Auckland!|
|Tailgating is a top cause of car accidents.||How can I stop tailgating?|
|I like bananas because they have no bones.||When the car ahead reaches an object, make sure you can count to four crocodiles before you reach the same object.|
StatementsSo what makes something a statement?
- Definition: Statements are the kind of sentences that are either true or false.
Non-statementsHowever, it doesn’t make sense to say that the sentence “Welcome to the University of Auckland!” is either true or false. Wouldn’t you be puzzled if someone answered “true” in response to the greetings? It wouldn’t be an appropriate answer. “How can I stop tailgating?” is a question; the sentence doesn’t express something that is either true or false.Finally, “When the car ahead reaches an object, make sure you can count to four crocodiles before you reach the same object.” is an advice. It advises you to make sure you can count up to four crocodiles (one crocodile, two crocodiles,…,four crocodiles) before you reach the same object as the car preceding you. Try it! You’ll be a much safer driver (that’s a true statement!).
More about Statements
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Logical and Critical Thinking
- Ivan Slotvsky, the famous Irish builder of Madrid, is eating ham steaks and chutney at this very moment.
- Sometime in the next 39 years, I will have a creepy next door neighbour.
- Vero is part of Promina
- I’m a Kiwi.
- Patrick is a happily married man.
Ambiguous StatementsOne difficulty with statements is that they may sometimes express two different things. We call those ambiguous statements. Here’s an example:
- John greeted everybody with a smile.
- John was smiling and then he greeted everybody. In this case, it’s true that he greeted everybody with a smile – his smile.
- Maybe there were smiling people and non-smiling people, and John only greeted the ones that were smiling.
- I beat my wife up everyday.
Questions and CommandsIn the second list of non-statements, we had questions and commands, and those are typically not statements.
- If humans evolved from monkeys, how come we still have monkeys?
- Humans did not evolve from monkeys, because we still have monkeys.
SummaryIn summary, statements are the kind of sentences that are either true or false. Sentences are ambiguous when they can be used to express several statements. When you have an ambiguous sentence, you need to decide which statement it is being used to express. Questions, commands and advice are typically not statements, because they do not express something that is either true or false. But sometimes people use them rhetorically to express statements. We saw an example of a question which by itself is not a statement, but can be used to express a statement. When you see rhetorical questions, always rephrase them as statements.
Logical and Critical Thinking
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