Use of the exclamation mark in English

The exclamation mark, also known as an exclamation point, is a punctuation mark that comes at the end of a sentence. It is used when the writer is raising their voice with any of the following emotions: anger, excitement, ecstasy, joy, surprise, etc.

Exclamation marks are less common comparing to periods, commas, or even semicolons. The sentences that use exclamation marks are called exclamatory sentences. Let’s study the situations when exclamation marks are usually used in sentences.

exclamation mark usages in English
exclamation mark usages in English

1. At the end of an exclamatory sentence!

The exclamation mark is used in an exclamatory sentence: a sentence that expresses strong emotions like happiness, anger, excitement, astonishment, joy, and others.

Examples:

  • Shut up and get lost! (Anger)
  • I hate you! Don’t talk to me again! (Anger)
  • She is coming to meet me tomorrow! (Excitement)
  • May you live long! (Blessings)
  • Help her god, please! (Prayers)

2. The exclamation mark is often followed by interjections.

If a sentence starts with an interjection, we generally use an exclamation mark right after it.

Common interjections: bravo, yay, ew, ahem, bingo, hey, yuck, alas, cheers, woo-hoo, yippee, hurrah, drat, ouch, etc.

Examples:

  • Yuck! This tastes awful! (Disgust)
  • Yay! We are going to the party! (Excitement)
  • Hey! How are you? (Greetings)
  • Yay! we have won the match. (Happiness)

3. A sentence (non-question) starting with ‘how’ and ‘what’ takes the exclamation mark.

  • How brilliant his plan is!
  • What a match it is!
  • What a player he is!
  • How beautiful she looked in your dress!
  • How smartly you handled the entire situation!

These sentences starting with ‘what’ and ‘how’ also exudes a strong emotion. The speaker is either lauding the action or leaving a negative remark on it.

4. A sentence that shows a strong command is often ended with the exclamation mark.

  • Open your bag right now! (saying it with anger)
  • Sit down!
  • Get off my bike! (giving a strong order)
  • Stop calling me!
  • Bring your parents or don’t come to the class.
  • Don’t you ever call me a loser!

When not to use the exclamation mark is as important as when to use it!

It’s essential to know when not to use an exclamation mark in sentences. Note that it’s best to avoid using exclamation marks in formal communications. Try using the right words to exude the emotions you want your readers to feel through your writing. But using them (not excessively) is always good.

But if most sentences in your writing are ending with an exclamation mark, it takes away the uniqueness of the exclamation mark and makes it less effective as the readers become used to it and start missing the emotion in the sentences. It’s like delivering every message with the same emotion. At some point, the emotion loses its value. The effective way of using it is to use it when you actually want to highlight a sentence, and it should not happen too often. A surprising piece of information once in a while catches the attention of your readers.

Well, you have just mastered how to use exclamation marks the right way. Share it with other to help them!

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