When to Use an Exclamation Mark (with Examples)An exclamation mark (!) is used to indicate a sudden order, intensity of emotion (such as surprise) or volume. Typically, an exclamation mark is used to end an:
An Exclamatory Sentence
An exclamatory sentence conveys excitement or emotion. It ends with an exclamation mark. For example:
- You're late!
- It's a pike!
An Imperative Sentence
An imperative sentence issues an order. It will end in an exclamation mark to show forcefulness. For example:
- Get out!
- Take the dog out the kitchen this instant!
- Please leave. (This is an imperative sentence, but it does not end with an exclamation mark because the order is not forceful.)
Interjections are words used to express feeling or sudden emotion. They can be standalone or as part of a sentence (usually at the start). An interjection can end in an exclamation mark to express a strong feeling or emotion. For example:
- Jeepers! That was close! (This is an interjection (shaded) followed by an exclamatory sentence.)
AVOID EXCLAMATION MARKS IN FORMAL CORRESPONDENCEAvoid using exclamation mark in formal writing. They are considered crass. In official correspondence, your power of expression needs to be strong enough to avoid exclamation marks.
DON'T USE MORE THAN ONE EXCLAMATION MARK
Even in informal correspondence, using two or more exclamation marks might be considered rude or juvenile. (It's the social equivalent of laughing at your own jokes.)
USEFUL FOR TEXT SPEAKUsing an exclamation mark in "text speak" can be a useful way to convey the tone of your message, which is often lost when texting. (We judge that using more than one is allowable in "text speak" for the same reason.)
Read more about text speak on our sister site, Cyber Definitions.
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