How To Use Exclamation Marks
Learn how to use exclamations marks properly and effectively with VideoJug's help. Spice up your sentences with this emotive use of punctuation.
Step 1: Introduction
The exclamation mark is used instead of a full stop at the end of a short phrase or sentence that expresses very strong feelings. They are also known informally as a bang or a shriek. Here are some examples:
David, stop that!
I love cress sandwiches!
If a writing is trying to represent ordinary speech - in a novel, for instance - then examples like these are quite normal. However in formal writing exclamation marks usually appear out of place, and using them frequently will give your work a breathless, almost immature, quality.
Step 2: Exclamations and statements
Exclamation marks also often appear after an exclamation beginning with how or what:
How well did he take that goal!
What a mistake the goalkeeper made!
These sentences are both exclamations, and not statements. If they were statements, they would simply end with a full stop and not an exclamation mark
That goal was very well taken.
The goalkeeper made a bad mistake.
Step 3: Surprise!
If a statement is very surprising, you can use an exclamation to draw attention to the fact:
After weeks of planning he finally managed to break in and crack the safe. It was empty!
Step 4: Interruptions
Exclamation marks can also be used to draw attention to an interruption in a sentence, for example:
On the (rare!) occasion he bought his wife flowers, he forgot to take the price tag off.
Step 5: Formal writing
Apart from these points you should generally avoid using exclamation marks in your formal writing. Don't use an exclamation mark unless you're certain it's necessary - for example there's no need to use one in the statement:
Do not use exclamation marks in formal writing!
And never use two or three of them in a row!!!
While this sort of thing is fine in personal letters it is completely out of place in formal writing.