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The Exclamation Point

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The Exclamation Mark or Exclamation Point ends a sentence that expresses strong feeling or an important command. It is also used at the end of short interjections such as "Wow!" or "Ouch!" and to draw attention to a fact or opinion (I am the greatest soccer player in the world!). Since exclamation points show powerful emotions, they should be used sparingly in writing and should be only used one at a time.

Rules for using the Exclamation Mark

Rule 1: Use an exclamation point to express a strong emotion, surprise, or to draw attention to something.

  • The storm is coming!
(Drawing attention - use an exclamation point)
  • I love this game!
(Strong emotion - use an exclamation point)
  • Yikes! That was a scary movie.
(Surprise/strong emotion - use an exclamation point)

Rule 2: If you are using the interjection "O," use an exclamation point AFTER the noun following the "O."

  • O brother! My dog ate my homework!
(Using "O" - exclamation point after the noun "brother")
  • O John! It's raining!
(Using "O" - exclamation point after the noun "John")

Rule 3: Many interjections use exclamation point after it.

  • "Oh! Why are you going?"
(Use an exclamation point after the interjection "Oh")
  • "Ouch! That was hot."
(Use an exclamation point after the interjection "Ouch")

Rule 4: Sometimes a sentence that is phrased like a question and starts with "what" or "how," can be used as an exclamation. Use an exclamation point instead of a question mark.

  • What a nice day!
(Can be "It is a nice day!" - use an exclamation point)
  • How lovely of you to come!
(Can be "It is lovely that you came!" - use an exclamation point)
  • How cruel it was to tell that lie!
(Can be "It was cruel to tell that lie!" - use an exclamation point)

Rule 5: Do NOT use exclamation points in formal writing for business or school, unless necessary.

Summary

The handy chart helps remember the rules and uses of the exclamation point.

NAME Punctuation
Mark
USAGE EXAMPLE
Exclamation Point (or mark) !
  • Use at the end of a sentence that shows strong emotion, surprise, or draws attention to something.

  • If using the interjection "O," use after the noun following the "O."

  • Use after interjections.

  • Use after a sentence that is phrased like a question and starts with "what" or "how."
  • Look out!





  • O John! It's raining!



  • "Oh! Why are you going?"

  • What a nice day!

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