Exclamation points (or exclamation marks as they are known in some parts of the English-speaking world) are rather controversial.
For many English-language purists, the exclamation point is something almost unnecessary, and something that is really only to be used in very specific circumstances.
“I have to leave now. Goodbye.”
The man left, and was half-way down the street when she finally responded.
The last piece of the dialogue takes an exclamation point because it is clearly said in some urgency, and perhaps with the voice raised. It is also a command, which is another reason why an exclamation point should be used.
These are usually the acceptable circumstances for the use of exclamation points for language purists:
· It is said urgently
· It is spoken with a raised voice (or shouted)
· It is a command
Outside of these conditions, many traditional language tutors would not encourage the use of exclamation points, and for many native speakers of English (as well as many others who have learnt how to write English formally), we still have doubts about using these punctuation marks because of this education we have received.
But the world is changing, and most of the time we are not writing formally.
What do exclamation points do in reality?
In the modern day-to-day world, exclamation points achieve all manner of things. They make sentences sound less serious, they make sentences more playful, they can be a good indication of sarcasm, or a good example of excitement or happiness. They can emphasize in all manner of ways. And they can express your personality. In short, exclamation points can achieve much, as well as to be used for those traditional functions that most of us have been taught.
When can I use exclamation points?
Using an exclamation point is certainly your decision, and if you wish, you could also use multiple exclamation points (something many of us were taught never to do)!
Here are some classic situations when you can use exclamation points in both work and leisure situations:
Great news. Vs Great news!!!!
Which one shows more excitement about the news?
I can’t believe he did that. Vs I can’t believe he did that!!!!!
Which example shows more surprise?
That was great presentation today. Vs That was a great presentation today!
Which one is less formally delivered, and perhaps signifies a more comfortable relationship with a colleague?
Listen to me. Vs Listen to me!!!!
Which one really wants you to listen?
I know you can do better next time. Vs I know you can do better next time!
Which sentence is more supportive?
As you know I love his cooking. Vs As you know I love his cooking!!!
Which could perhaps be sarcastic? Or even emphatic?
These are just some examples of how exclamation points can be used to change the tone and voice of writing.
Use them as you wish, and if you want to use ten, why not?
I’m so happy I can use as many exclamation points as I want!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And that is real happiness (at using exclamation points)!