Easy Grammar: How to Use Exclamation Marks

Exclamation marks are added to sentences in order to give them emphasis. They imbue the words with strong emotion, so always use them sparingly for a mature tone.

To avoid any errors in your writing, here is how to use exclamation marks correctly:

1. Adding Emphasis
2. Tone and Style


1. Adding Emphasis

Exclamation marks have a limited number of uses. Their main purpose is to help a writer convey a feeling of strong emotion (such as anger or happiness). To do this, you simply replace the period at the end of the sentence with an exclamation mark:

That was totally unfair!
I can’t believe my car was stolen!
This holiday is going to be amazing!

This is useful when you need to add emphasis to the way that a sentence is read. For instance, you might want to indicate somebody’s surprise:

That city only had driverless cars. Imagine that!

2. Tone and Style

When using exclamation marks, be aware of how they change the tone and style of the sentence. To look at this in more detail, let’s take the previous example and swap the exclamation mark with a period:

That city only had driverless cars. Imagine that.

Now the emotion in the sentence has changed dramatically. The delivery is flat and unsurprised, giving the comment a very dry and cynical tone.

Although exclamation marks are fairly common in dialogue, they are rarely used in formal writing. This is because the emotion they add usually isn’t appropriate for a mature and level discussion.

Even in fiction, however, writers should be very careful not to overuse exclamation marks. This will keep your tone more balanced. When they’re used too often, the writing will have an immature feel and won’t be taken seriously.

Certain styles of writing (particularly in comics and adverts) often use several exclamation marks (!!!) for greater emphasis. And they’ll frequently use exclamation marks and question marks together (?!). When writing for a mature audience, however, this practice should be avoided entirely.

Don’t use more than one exclamation mark per sentence, and don’t combine it with a question mark.


For more help with your grammar, check out these fantastic books:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + 5 =