A sentence can be a group of words that communicate a complete thought, or it can be the punishment in a criminal case. Did your pen pal in prison write a sentence or two about the length of his sentence?
Actually, both meanings of sentence — words and punishment — are linked, coming from the Latin sententia, meaning "thought or judgment," derived from the verb sentire, "to feel or perceive." If you put some words before a period, you should give some thought to your sentence. If you receive a lengthy prison sentence, you will certainly feel it.
Primary Meanings of sentence
a string of words satisfying the grammatical rules of a language
(criminal law) a final judgment of guilty in a criminal case and the punishment that is imposed
pronounce a sentence on (somebody) in a court of law
n a string of words satisfying the grammatical rules of a language
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a sentence having no coordinate clauses or subordinate clauses
a sentence composed of at least one main clause and one subordinate clause
a sentence composed of at least two coordinate independent clauses
declarative sentence, declaratory sentence
a sentence (in the indicative mood) that makes a declaration
an ungrammatical sentence in which two or more independent clauses are conjoined without a conjunction
a sentence that states the topic of its paragraph
interrogation, interrogative, interrogative sentence, question
a sentence of inquiry that asks for a reply
a complex sentence in which the main clause comes first and the subordinate clause follows
a complex sentence in which the main clause comes last and is preceded by the subordinate clause
a question asked in cross-examination
a question phrased in such a way as to suggest the desired answer; a lawyer may ask leading questions on cross-examination
a question that can be answered by yes or no
n (criminal law) a final judgment of guilty in a criminal case and the punishment that is imposed
a judgment of not guilty
conviction for murder
conviction for rape
conviction for robbery