Exclamatory Sentence

What Is an Exclamatory Sentence?

An exclamatory sentence conveys a strong emotion and ends with an exclamation mark (!).

An exclamatory sentence, or exclamation, is a more forceful version of a declarative sentence. In other words, an exclamatory sentence makes a statement (just like a declarative sentence), but it also conveys excitement or emotion.

Table of Contents

  • Examples of Exclamatory Sentences
  • Exclamatory Sentences Starting with "What" and "How"
  • Real-Life Examples of Exclamatory Sentences
  • Video Lesson
  • Why Exclamatory Sentences Are Important
  • Other Sentence Types
  • Test Time!
exclamatory sentence example
Exclamatory sentences are common in adverts and informal correspondence (e.g., emails, texts). They are quite rare in business correspondence, where a level head usually needs to be portrayed.

Examples of Exclamatory Sentences

Here are some examples of exclamatory sentences:
  • You were meant to be back yesterday!
  • (expresses anger)
  • Jeepers! You scared the life out of me!
  • (expresses surprise)
  • We won!
  • (expresses happiness)
  • This puzzle is driving me up the wall!
  • (expresses frustration)
  • You're adorable!
  • (expresses love)
  • It's a boy!
  • (expresses joy)
  • I'm really going to miss this place!
  • (expresses sorrow)

Exclamatory Sentences Starting with "What" and "How"

"What" and "how" can be used to form exclamatory sentences.
  • What a goal that was!
  • How wonderful she is!
The most commonly cited examples are from Little Red Riding Hood:
  • What big eyes you have!
  • How sharp your teeth are, grandma!
Notice that, in all four examples above, the word order is still subject-verb ("that was," "she is," "you have," "your teeth are"). The front part of each sentence (i.e., the part starting with "what" or "how" seems out of place). This is deliberate. It is called anastrophe, which is the deliberate changing of normal word order for emphasis.

Of course, the words "what" and "how" are most commonly used to ask questions (i.e., in interrogative sentences). For example:

Real-Life Examples of Exclamatory Sentences

  • You make the beds, you do the dishes and six months later you have to start all over again. I hate housework! (Comedian Joan Rivers)
  • It's alive! It's alive! (Dr Frankenstein)
An exclamatory sentence is often preceded by an interjection (shown in bold):
  • Jeepers, you're actually up before lunch!
  • (Interjections can be followed by a comma for a mild effect.)
  • Wow! That's amazing!
  • (Interjections can be followed by an exclamation mark for a strong effect.)
  • Oh! Most miserable wretch that I am! Why have I not learnt how to swim? (Alexander the Great, aka Alexander III of Macedon)
Be aware that not every sentence that ends with an exclamation mark is an exclamatory sentence.
  • Shut the front door!
  • (This is an imperative sentence (i.e., an order). An imperative sentence often ends with an exclamation mark to make the order more forceful. Of interest, "Shut the front door!" could be an exclamatory sentence because nowadays it is often used as a synonym for "No way!".)
  • Where's the dog!
  • (This is an interrogative sentence (i.e., a question), but there is no question mark because the need to express emotion trumps the need to highlight it as a question. Unless you're texting your mates, don't use "?!" or "!?".)

Video Lesson

Here is a video summarizing this lesson on exclamatory sentences. video lesson

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

Why Exclamatory Sentences Are Important

Don't overuse exclamatory sentences. An exclamatory sentence delivers a jolt of emotion. If you add emotion to everything, you add emotion to nothing.

An exclamatory sentence can be useful for emphasizing a point but only when the emphasis is achieved by expressing an emotion. Don't put an exclamation mark at the end of a declarative sentence (a matter-of-fact statement) just to highlight its importance. Your readers will quickly start to question your writing skills and even your sincerity if you make a habit of using exclamation marks and not word choice to portray the importance of a statement. Oh, and definitely don't use more than one exclamation mark.
  • Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind. (Author Terry Pratchett)
Exclamatory sentences are not typically used in business writing, but they are common in informal correspondence and advertising.
  • I can't believe it's not butter!

Key Point

Other Sentence Types

Here are some examples of other sentence types:

Declarative Sentence

A declarative sentence states a fact or an argument and ends with a
full stop (small British flag) / period (small American flag). For example:
  • Lee has never caught a decent bass.

Imperative Sentence

An imperative sentence is a command or a polite request. It ends with an exclamation mark (!) or a full stop / period. For example:
  • Fish somewhere else!
  • Please fish in your own area.

Interrogative Sentence

An interrogative sentence asks a question. It ends with question mark (?). For example:
  • Will you stop trying to fish in my water?
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.