Exclamatory Sentences

Exclamatory Sentences

An exclamatory sentence conveys a strong emotion and ends with an exclamation mark (!).

Easy Examples of Exclamatory Sentences

An exclamatory sentence makes a statement (just like a declarative sentence), but it also conveys an emotion.
  • You're late!
  • (conveys anger)
  • We won!
  • (conveys happiness)
  • You're doing my swede in!
  • (conveys frustration)
  • 143!
  • (conveys love)
    (This is text speak. It's the number of letters in each word of "I love you". There are literally thousands of similar expressions.)
  • It's a boy!
  • (conveys joy)
  • No way!
  • (conveys surprise)
  • I miss you!
  • (conveys sorrow)

Real-Life Examples of Exclamatory Sentences

  • You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again. I hate housework! (Comedian Joan Rivers)
  • It's alive! It's alive! (Dr Frankenstein)
An exclamatory sentence is often preceded by an interjection (shown in bold):
  • Jeepers, you're actually up before lunch!
  • (Interjections can be followed by a comma for a mild effect.)
  • Wow! That's amazing!
  • (Interjections can be followed by an exclamation mark for a strong effect.)
  • Oh! Most miserable wretch that I am! Why have I not learnt how to swim? (Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III of Macedon, aka Alexander the Not So Great Swimmer)
Be aware that not every sentence that ends with an exclamation mark is an exclamatory sentence.
  • Shut the front door!
  • (This is an imperative sentence (i.e., an orders). An imperative sentence often ends with an exclamation mark to make the order more forceful. Of interest, "Shut the front door!" could be an exclamatory sentence because nowadays it is often used as a synonym for "No way!".)
  • Where's the dog!
  • (This is an interrogative sentence (i.e., a question), but there is no question mark because the need to express emotion trumps the need to highlight it as a question. Unless you're texting your mates, don't use "?!" or "!?".)

Why Should I Care about Exclamatory Sentences?

Don't overuse exclamatory sentences. An exclamatory sentence delivers a jolt of emotion. If you add emotion to everything, you add emotion to nothing.

An exclamatory sentence can be useful for emphasising a point but only when the emphasis is achieved by expressing an emotion. Don't put an exclamation mark at the end of a declarative sentence (a matter-of-fact statement) just to highlight its importance. Your readers will quickly start to question your writing skills and even your sincerity if you make a habit of using exclamation marks and not word choice to portray the importance of a statement. Oh, and definitely don't use more than one exclamation mark.
  • Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind. (Author Terry Pratchett)
Exclamatory sentences are not typically used in business writing, but they are common in informal correspondence and advertising.
  • I can't believe it's not butter!

Key Point

  • Use exclamatory sentences sparingly, and, when you do, don't use more than one exclamation mark.
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