Is your writing a little dull? Add some sass and punch to your writing with exclamatory sentences. What am I talking about? Well, I am not talking about sentences that make a casual statement, ask a question, or give a command. Instead, they convey some type of strong emotion. And how exactly do you express a strong emotion? It’s easy. Write a declarative sentence filled with emotion and use this punctuation mark (!)!
It’s called an exclamation mark and is used to show a vast range of emotions…love, anger, happiness, confusion, elation or any other typed of exuberant emotion.
Exclamation marks are reserved for powerful feelings so you won’t find them used to express a matter-of –fact emotion or serenity, or a sense of calm. Instead they deliver a jolt of feeling, which is why they’re so common in everyday speech. However, exclamation marks need to be used sparingly in your writing. Use them to emphasize a point but be careful not to over do. For instance, can you imagine reading line after line of sentences like this!!
And when it comes to academic writing, such as essays and reports, don’t use exclamatory sentences at all, unless you are using them in quotations.
Grammatically speaking, formal English requires exclamations to begin with either the word what or how. But in everyday informal English you’ll find exclamations can begin with any word, as you’ll see in the examples of exclamatory sentences to follow. But first, two more grammar rules you need to know about.
Rule Number One: If the noun in your sentence is plural, the correct choice is what, not how.
- “What exceptional children these are!” is correct.
- “How exceptional children these are!” is incorrect.
- What is acceptable with singular nouns as well.
- “What an exceptional child this is!”
The emotion portrayed in the above examples is one of astonishment. You’ll quickly see that any emotion can be expressed with exclamations.
Rule Number Two: When punctuating an exclamatory sentence, the exclamation mark should be at the sentence end, not in the middle of the sentence.
- “Fantastic, we closed the deal!” is correct.
- “Fantastic! we closed the deal.” is incorrect.
Examples of exclamatory sentences
The following sentences are all examples of exclamations. See if you can determine the emotion expressed in each:
- No, you did not have permission to stay out this late!
- I can’t figure this out!
- Our team won the championship!
- I don’t know what happened here!
- I simply adore you!
- I just won the lottery!
- My life will never be the same without you!
- Oh, I didn’t see you come in!
Did you find the emotion easy to determine? Here are the emotions the writer had in mind…
- No, you did not have permission to stay out this late! (anger)
- I can’t figure this out! (frustration)
- Our team won the championship! (happiness)
- I don’t know what happened here! (confusion)
- I simply adore you! (love)
- I just won the lottery! (elation)
- My life will never be the same without you! (sorrow)
- Oh, I didn’t see you come in! (surprise)
After reading the sentences a second time, couldn’t you just feel the emotion?
There will be times when you see an exclamation mark used in an imperative sentence, like this:
Come here now!
Be sure you don’t use an exclamation mark if you’re using “please” in your sentence. Instead, use a simple period.
Please come here now.
An interrogative sentence can become an exclamation, too. Like this…
What did you do to the dog’s hair!
Exclamatory words are words that generate a strong emotional response. Here is a list of common ones but you can certainly add your own ideas so you’ll have a quick and ready list of exclamatory words to use in your writing.
Exclamatory words that can stand alone as a sentence while expressing emotions or reactions are called interjections. Interjections don’t require a subject or verb to express a thought. However, they can be inserted in a sentence by using commas.
- Wow, that was a thrilling ride!
- Brilliant, you solved the puzzle!
- Awesome, you got the job!
- Ouch, that really hurts!
- I don’t know what you feel but, sheesh, I think the food was too expensive!
By sprinkling your writing with appropriate exclamatory sentences, you’ll find you’ve added excitement to your story or prose. But keep in mind a little goes a long way. If you emphasize everything, you end up emphasizing nothing. Exclamations aren’t appropriate for underlining points that could easily be made with a declarative statement. If you do that, your readers will become suspicious of your sincerity – and that’s the last thing a good writer wants.
Instead, use exclamatory sentences to show sincere, honest emotion to pull your reader into your words.
View all our articles about sentence types.
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