The elastic moduli of single layer graphene sheet (SLGS) have been a subject of intensive research in recent years. Calculations of these effective properties range from molecular dynamic simulations to use of structural mechanical models. On the basis of mathematical models and calculation methods, several different results have been obtained and these are available in the literature. Existing mechanical models employ Euler–Bernoulli beams rigidly jointed to the lattice atoms. In this paper we propose truss-type analytical models and an approach based on cellular material mechanics theory to describe the in-plane linear elastic properties of the single layer graphene sheets. In the cellular material model, the C–C bonds are represented by equivalent mechanical beams having full stretching, hinging, bending and deep shear beam deformation mechanisms. Closed form expressions for Young’s modulus, the shear modulus and Poisson’s ratio for the graphene sheets are derived in terms of the equivalent mechanical C–C bond properties. The models presented provide not only quantitative information about the mechanical properties of SLGS, but also insight into the equivalent mechanical deformation mechanisms when the SLGS undergoes small strain uniaxial and pure shear loading. The analytical and numerical results from finite element simulations show good agreement with existing numerical values in the open literature. A peculiar marked auxetic behaviour for the C–C bonds is identified for single graphene sheets under pure shear loading.