What Are Interjections?

Interjections are words used to express feelings or emotions, such as surprise, joy, disgust, excitement, and enthusiasm. An interjection is usually written at the start of a sentence. For example:
  • Whoa! What was that?
  • ("Whoa" expresses surprise.)
  • Yes! I passed!
  • ("Yes" expresses joy.)
  • Ew, that smells terrible!
  • ("Ew" expresses disgust.)
Interjections can express many different feelings or emotions.
  • Ouch! That is really sharp!
  • ("Ouch" expresses pain.)
  • Ahem, you weren't meant to see that.
  • ("Ahem" expresses embarrassment.)
  • Eh? I don't understand.
  • ("Eh?" expresses confusion.)

Punctuating Interjections

Of note, an interjection can be followed by the following punctuation:
  • !
    an exclamation mark for a strong emotion
  • ?
    a question mark for question
  • ,
    a comma for a mild emotion
  • .
    a period (full stop) for mild emotion with a deliberate pause
An interjection is not grammatically related to any other parts of the sentence.

Table of Contents

  • Examples of Interjections
  • "Sentiment of the Interjection" Test
  • Types of Interjection
  • Yes and No
  • Interjections As Sounds
  • Multi-word Interjections
  • Real-Life Examples of Interjections
  • Why Interjections Are Important
  • Test Time!

Examples of Interjections

In the following examples, the interjections are shaded.
  • Hey! Get off that floor!
  • Oh, that is a surprise.
  • Good! Now we can move on.
  • Jeepers, that was close.
interjections grammar

"Sentiment of the Interjection" Test

It's your go! Select whether the interjection is expressing annoyance, relief, pain, or surprise.

Types of Interjection

Yes and No

Expressions such as "yes," "no," "indeed," and "well" are often used as interjections. For example:
  • Indeed, this is not the first time the stand has collapsed.
  • Yes, I do intend to cover the bet.

Interjections As Sounds

Some interjections are sounds. For example:
  • Phew! I am not trying that again.
  • Humph! I knew that last week.
  • Mmmm, my compliments to the chef.

Multi-word Interjections

Some interjections are more than one word. For example:
  • Oh, really? I doubt that.
  • Holy moly! She won!
They're not always at the start of a sentence. For example:
  • It is cold, indeed.

Real-Life Examples of Interjections

  • I'm sure I don't know half the people who come to my house. Indeed, for all I hear, I shouldn't like to. (Poet and playwright Oscar Wilde)
  • Yes, it's absolutely true that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can do it well. (Author Zig Ziglar)
  • Well, it's 1 a.m. Better go home and spend some quality time with the kids. (Homer Simpson)
  • Ah! Don't say you agree with me. When people agree with me, I always feel that I must be wrong. (Playwright Oscar Wilde)
  • It's smoke, and it's in flames now; and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity! (Radio journalist Herbert Morrison reporting on the 1937 Hindenburg disaster)

Why Interjections Are Important

There are two common questions related to interjections.

(Question 1) What punctuation follows an interjection?

Recognizing an interjection will help you to choose the punctuation that follows it. If your interjection is not a question (and most aren't), you have a choice. You can use a comma, a period (full stop) or an exclamation mark. Commas and periods are used for mild interjections, while exclamation marks are used for stronger expressions of emotion. Often, an interjection followed by an exclamation mark will be followed by an exclamatory sentence (i.e., one with an exclamation mark).
  • Jeepers! You scared the life out of me!
  • Crikey! Do you think before you speak?
  • (You can't use an exclamation mark at the end of your sentence if it's a question.)
The choice between a comma and a period depends on your desired flow of text. In other words, choose what looks good to you. If your interjection is a question, you must use a question mark.
  • I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left. (Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher)
  • (When an interjection is in the middle of the sentence, you must offset it with commas. It doesn't happen often.)

(Question 2) Can you use interjections in business writing?

As a general rule, you should avoid using interjections in business writing, but, used very infrequently, they can be impactful and insert some pep into a document. Too much interjection-invoked pep, however, could make you look a little scatty.

Key Point

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

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.

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