How To Use Exclamation Marks

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:

That's amazing!

David, stop that!

I love cress sandwiches!

Aaarrgh!

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.