It’s time talk about one of my biggest grammatical pet peeves – when people overuse exclamation points. As a writer and a reader – of both books and online sources like blogs – as well as a trained and licensed English teacher, I am passionate about grammar. Like, extremely passionate. There are few grammatical issues that make me feel as strongly as the overuse of exclamation points, and the only one I’m equally passionate about is the Oxford comma. But enough of my whining. Let’s talk about why you should reduce your use of exclamation points and how to do it.
Why To Stop Using Exclamation Points So Much
Exclamation points are meant for emphasizing statements, either for good or for bad. If every sentence ends in an exclamation point, no sentence stands out as exemplary. This defeats the entire purpose of using them in the first place. You should never end most of your sentences with exclamation points for this reason.
Grammar variety in your writing is important overall, but since I’ve already spent an entire post on that, I won’t go into detail today. The moral of the story is that you should vary your grammar.
What To Do Instead
End the sentence with a period – If the sentence is your average sentence, end it with a period. There’s no need for it to end with anything else unless a) it’s a question b) it is an extraordinary statement. Even if you’re a naturally excited person, if most of your sentences would be spoken at a similar level of excitement, they should all end with a period.
Combine sentences – By combining sentences (but not to the extent that they become run-ons) and ending the new one sentence with an exclamation, you reduce the number of exclamation points used overall. I go into detail on how you can correctly combine sentences in The Essential Grammar Handbook, as there are multiple ways to do it.
Examine your writing and change it as needed – Why is it that you’re using exclamation points so much? Look through your writing and try to figure it out. Are you passionate about the topic? Demonstrate that through your words. Are you angry about something? Use words to explain why.
Here’s a paragraph with too many exclamation points: I’m so glad it’s Wednesday! This week has been a long one already! I hope the rest of the week goes well. I can’t wait for the weekend! It’s going to be a great one! I have so many great plans!
See what I’m talking about? Since most (5 of 6) sentences end with an exclamation point, the value of those sentences as exciting diminishes. By changing most of the exclamation points to periods, the sentences that do end with exclamations will stand out above the others in a positive way.
For more tutorials and to improve your grammar overall, check out my ebook The Essential Grammar Handbook.