no !!!The Exclamation Point. My students and friends know that I am on a campaign to eliminate or limit it. (That and rhyming poetry that is written without thought to meter or meaning. But that’s another blog)

I noticed a line about the exclamation point in my notes for a class

I think the most grossly overused punctuation mark is the exclamation point! There is a school of semi-thought that seems to have concluded that a thing is more important, or exciting, or urgent if multiple exclamation points are used, as in: Buy NOW!!!!!! Actually, it just means the writer doesn’t know much about punctuation.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes.”

Using this mark is often like telling, when the words themselves show. “Get off my clean floor,” in my opinion needs no exclamation point. In fact, it’s an insult exclamationto the reader’s intelligence. “Look out. Get out of the way.” doesn’t need this mark either. In my own writing, I seldom use it.

When people use a lot of exclamation marks, we tend to ignore them.

Here are the rules for exclamation points, if you want them. In all the examples below, I would not have used an exclamation point. I think they are going out of style, perhaps because of overuse.

  • Use an exclamation point after a sentence expressing strong feeling. For example, “I can’t believe you did that!”
  • You can also place an exclamation point at the end of a forceful command, such as, “Come here right now!”
  • Place exclamation points at the end of a sentence rather than in the
    ! out

    Grumpy Ed

    middle. Thus, “Hooray, we won!” rather than, “Hooray! we won.”

  • Place the exclamation point inside quotation marks only if it’s part of the quotation. Otherwise, it goes outside the quotation marks. For example, She shouted, “Help me, please!”

Image courtesy of:

  • carsonparkdesign.com
  • 1heckofaguy.com



9 responses to “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  1. I completely agree with your perspective. The overuse of the exclamation mark is one of my pet peeves, and I’m always trying to find ways to restructure my sentences so as to make them unnecessary while still conveying the right message. Granted, I still use them from time to time, but I really don’t like them. They seem to cheapen any piece of writing.

  2. You’re right about what a drag they are when they’re overused, Ed. I think exclamation marks are a bit like salt: great in small amounts, awful if overused. But used judiciously, they do help to convey the sense of the speaker. I wouldn’t use one a page, but still, I wouldn’t like to see them go.

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