Holy moly! We’ve started this post with an interjection! But what are interjections? And how do you use them in writing? We explain the basics in our guide below.
What Are Interjections?
Interjections are typically short words or phrase that express a feeling. They are usually abrupt, interrupting speech or writing as an exclamation. For instance:
Hooray! I’ve found all the lost socks!
Here, “hooray” is an interjection that expresses excitement. And while many interjections are familiar words that you might use in other contexts, others are onomatopoeic (i.e., they mimic sounds that we use to express emotions):
Ewwww, that’s disgusting.
In all cases, though, an interjection will tell us something about how the speaker or writer is feeling, whether that is excitement, disgust, or even uncertainty. The key is picking the right word or sound to express a feeling that fits the situation at hand.
Punctuation and Positioning
In writing, interjections are always set off from other text with punctuation. However, the best punctuation may depend on how you are using the interjection in question.
One option is to set an interjection apart with a comma or commas. This works at the start, at the end, or even in the middle of a sentence. For example:
Well, I’m not sure what to say.
Are you sure, hmmm, that you’re ready?
That was unexpected, eh?
But interjections can also stand by themselves before or after a sentence. And in these cases, you can use an appropriate form of terminal punctuation instead:
Oh. It’s you again.
What? The car costs how much?
You did it! Yes!
The punctuation you use for an interjection can make a difference to the tone. For instance, using a full stop after “oh” above implies being underwhelmed. But switching this for an exclamation point would suggest surprise instead.
When to Use Interjections
Interjections are common parts of speech. Consequently, these words and phrases are most useful in writing that aims for a conversational style. This includes:
- In scripts and fictional dialogue to make speech feel more realistic.
- In marketing copy to give adverts emotive impact.
- For expressing tone when writing to people you know well, such as when emailing friends, colleagues, or family.
A few well-placed interjections can thus add a lot to some kinds of writing. However, they are also considered informal in most cases. As such, you won’t usually want to use them in formal writing, such as essays and business reports.
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