An interjection is a word added to a sentence (usually at the start) to convey an emotion such as surprise, disgust, joy, excitement or enthusiasm.
An interjection is not grammatically related to any other part of the sentence.
Easy Examples of Interjections
Some interjections are sounds.
- Hey! Get off that grass!
- Good, now we can move on.
Some interjections are more than one word.
- Phew! That was close!
- Mmm, my compliments to the chef.
- Huh? Do you expect me to believe that?
They're not always at the start of a sentence.
Real-Life Examples of Interjections
- Oh, really? I doubt that.
- Holy moly! She won!
- I'm sure I don't know half the people who come to my house. Indeed, for all I hear, I shouldn't like to. (Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde)
(Introductory expressions such as yes, no, indeed, and well are interjections.)
- Yes, it's absolutely true that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can do it well. (Author Zig Ziglar)
- Well, it's 1 a.m. Better go home and spend some quality time with the kids. (Homer Simpson)
- Ah! Don't say you agree with me. When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. (Oscar Wilde)
- It's smoke, and it's in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! (Radio journalist Herbert Morrison reporting on the 1937 Hindenburg disaster)
Why Should I Care about Interjections?
Recognising an interjection will help you to choose the punctuation that follows it. If your interjection is not a question (and most aren't), you have a choice. You can use a comma, a full stop or an exclamation mark. Commas and full stops are used for mild interjections, while exclamation marks are used for stronger expressions of emotion. Often, an interjection followed by an exclamation mark will be followed by an exclamatory sentence (i.e., one with an exclamation mark).
The choice between a comma and a full stop depends on your desired flow of text. In other words, choose what looks good to you. If your interjection is a question, you must use a question mark.
- Jeepers! You scared the life out of me!
- Crikey! Do you think before you speak?
(You can't use an exclamation mark if the sentence is a question.)
As a general rule, you should avoid using interjections in business writing, but, used very infrequently, they can be impactful and insert some pep into a document. Too much interjection-invoked pep, however, could make you look a little scatty.
- I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left. (Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher)
(When an interjection is in the middle of the sentence, you must offset it with commas. It doesn't happen often.)
Use a comma or a full stop after a mild interjection as you think looks best. For a stronger expression of emotion, use an exclamation mark.