An exclamatory sentence makes a statement that conveys strong emotion or excitement. Placing that tiny stripe above a period at the end of a sentence can really rock the boat! For example:
“I got the concert tickets!”
"Ugh! Why are you yelling at me?"
Have you ever had a text conversation go something like that? Your friend is trying to convey excitement and instead of throwing in some emojis, she uses exclamation marks. No big deal, but it can come across as a different kind of emotion, like anger or frustration.
In truth, exclamation marks are like sugar. Sometimes they can be too much. So, be careful if you just mean to say, "I need some coffee," rather than "I need some coffee!" the next time you're contemplating this magical bean.
Your tone, the emphasis you place on certain words, and your inflection can all change the meaning — and possibly the urgency — of your sentence.
Let's take a look at some exclamatory sentence examples. We've broken them up into their most common categories.
- Happy birthday, Amy!
- Thank you, Sheldon!
- I hate you!
- Ice cream sundaes are my favorite!
Exclamatory sentences are so powerful they can stand alone. For example:
- Wow, I really love you!
- Fantastic, let's go!
In these instances, you don't have to divide the sentiment into two separate sentences. Instead, insert a comma where the speaker would naturally pause and then finish off with that indicator of excitement, the exclamation mark.
- What a lovely bouquet of flowers!
- What a cute puppy!
- What an ugly bug!
- What a happy ending!
- How bright they've grown in the sunlight!
- How well he listens!
- How slow they crawl!
- How fast you ran!
- That birthday cake was so good!
- Sheldon's gift was so amazing!
- Eugh, that bug is so ugly!
- I’m so mad right now!
He's such a kind soul!
That's such a gorgeous ring!
Your puppy is such a cutie!
You’re such a liar!
Exclamatory sentences don't really have a place in academic writing or reports. Short of quoting someone else, they are to be avoided. Academic papers are going to be filled with declarative sentences, which make a statement, or interrogative sentences, which pose a question.
Declarative sentences relay information, plain and simple. They're always punctuated by a period. Interrogative sentences ask questions and they're punctuated by a question mark.
An imperative sentence is also not used much in academic writing, but if you see it in other writing it may be confused with an exclamatory sentence as it can also end with an exclamation point. The difference to remember is that an exclamatory sentence will always express heightened emotion.
In the end, it's best to leave exclamatory sentences for the lighter side of life. It's okay to create a casual blog post with an exclamatory sentence or two. A script for an episode of Friends will be full of exclamatory sentences — and that's why we loved it so much. However, a paper focusing on the benefits of herbal medicine should be far less driven by exclamations. Let your writing speak for itself. Choose clear, concise tones and avoid the urge to place that stripe above your periods (!).