Do you use exclamation points in your writing? Most people do. In fact, we use them so frequently, we rarely give it thought as to when it’s considered proper or necessary. Some have coined it “the selfie of grammar,” as in “look at me!” or “Ha ha!” It’s been known to be considered laughing at yourself — at what you wrote. Does that mean what you wrote can’t stand on its own? Or be taken seriously? Of course not! – see what I mean. “Of course not.” would have been completely acceptable.
While reading about this funny punctuation mark in an article on bbc.com, I found quite a history and opinion about the exclamation point. Here’s an excerpt:
“The Victorians had a real predilection for the exclamation mark. Anton Chekhov even wrote a short story for them called The Exclamation Mark – about a paranoid civil servant who in 40 years realised [British spelling] he hadn’t used an exclamation mark once.” Philip Cowell
It does get rather annoying when you see it overused because it quickly loses any emphasis it may normally carry. The article explains that the exclamation point is intended for specific types of use – “real exclamations,” – interjections, expletives, commands, and pronouncements of surprise. But, it changes meaning: “duck” “Duck!”
Yes! Oh My! EEK! Bravo! Have you ever read content where a writer uses it several times? It’s like the boy who cried wolf – you ignore it until you see an instance where it’s truly necessary.
So, if you want to use it to call out an expression, go right ahead. But use it sparingly – especially in business writing.
#fresheyesreadingllc #grammar #copyediting #exclamationpoint