How to Use the Exclamation Mark
The exclamation mark, which is also known as the exclamation point, looks like a period with a vertical bar above it. There are a few different ways to use exclamation marks correctly.
An Exciting Punctuation Mark
The exclamation point is usually used after an exclamation or interjection. It is intended to indicate strong feelings and convey emotion, as well as to indicate shouting or high volume. Like a period or question mark, an exclamation point typically comes at the end of a sentence. It is most often seen in informal text.
Rules for Using Exclamation Marks
Exclamation marks make the greatest impact when they are used sparingly. Follow these easy-to-remember rules when you use them.
h2>Examples for Using Exclamation Marks
Use an exclamation mark at the end of a strong command, an interjection, or an emphatic declaration.
- “Stop!” he yelled. “You’ve got two flat tires!”
- “I’ve had it with your lies!”
- “Get off my lawn!”
Exclamation points may be used to convey extreme emotion at the end of a question.
- What is wrong with you! Stop writing on the walls!
In informal writing, the same sentiment can be expressed with a combined question mark and exclamation point, as follows:
- What is wrong with you?! Stop writing on the walls!
Both methods are acceptable; if you are taking a writing class, be sure to get your instructor’s input on which method he or she prefers.
Surround an exclamation mark with parentheses to emphasize a single word in a sentence.
- Marjorie saw some really(!) strange-looking lamps on clearance.
When using this method, do not insert a space between the emphasized word and the parentheses. This grammatical device is used rarely, and is not normally considered appropriate for inclusion in formal text.
Use an exclamation point to accompany sounds produced mimetically, as illustrated.
- My dog made a loud ruff! to alert me of the intruder’s presence.
- The mountain lion went Grr! and the hikers backed away slowly.
When an exclamation point is part of an underlined or italicized phrase or title, be sure that it is also underlined or italicized.
- I just want him to stop!
- My favorite Dr. Seuss book is Horton Hears a Who!
As in the second example, the exclamation point in the title of a book, movie, or play should not be followed by a period if it concludes a sentence.
When an exclamation point is not part of an italicized phrase or title that comes at the end a sentence, it should not be italicized.
- I’ve already asked you to stop playing Achy Breaky Heart!
Though exclamation marks can be fun to use, it is important to remember that they are used rarely in academic prose; in journalistic writing, they are nearly nonexistent.
Would you like to learn more? Click here to learn how to properly use quotation marks
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