At the risk of showing my age, I’d like to throw back to a series of cartoons that appeared on Saturday mornings. Schoolhouse Rock appeared in the early 1970’s and taught a generation of children about math, science, history and grammar. As a Political Science major, I would sing “I’m Just a Bill” or “The Preamble” to remind me of the process. (I can still sing them if you must know.)
Grammar Rock explained the proper use of some of our language’s most confusing rules. In reviewing content for my clients, I find confusion, lack of use, or over use of the exclamation point. Here was the lesson in 1974 that can still hold true today:
Interjections (Hey!) show excitement (Yow!) or emotion (Ouch!).
They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point,
Or by a comma when the feeling’s not as strong.
So when you’re happy (Hurray!) or sad (Aw!)
Or frightened (Eeeeeek!) or mad (Rats!)
Or excited (Wow!) or glad (Hey!)
An interjection starts a sentence right.
If you are not sure when or how to use our friend the exclamation point, see if the rules above apply. Read it out loud to yourself and see how it sounds. There is not a lot of magic to this, just some careful thought, and maybe your voice to sing a verse or two!