Interjections Definition and Examples
What are Interjections?
Interjections are words or phrases used to articulate a variety of things: feelings, emphasis, demands, and requests. They often come as remarks that are short and sudden, expressing strong emotions such as Oh no! to convey surprise and Yuck! to state disgust.
Although interjections are a part of speech, they are independent of the other words in sentences and have nothing to do with them grammatically. Interjections are quite commonplace in general or everyday speech. They are also widespread in informal or creative writing but are almost never found in academic or business writing.
Here are some examples of interjections in sentences:
- Shh, people are studying.
- Uh-oh, we’re in trouble.
- Wow! This place looks amazing!
- Ew! Look at all this mess.
- Stop, I can’t laugh anymore!
Types of Interjections
|Primary Interjections||Words or sounds that can’t function as other parts of speech because they are used exclusively as interjections. They don’t have other meanings or clear origins. Some of them have particular spellings but can be written in other ways.||– Ew! That smells really bad.|
– Ugh! Another homework?
– Do I get the day off? Yay!
|Secondary Interjections||These are words that are essentially used as other parts of speech such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs, but can function as interjections.||– Amazing! Can you show me one more time?|
– Ridiculous! I didn’t say that.
– Is this real gold? Goodness!
|Greetings and Parting Words||Greetings and parting words are actually interjections, used of course to welcome or acknowledge meeting someone and to wish them well when departing or ending the conversation.||– Hi! It’s good to finally meet you.|
– Good riddance!
|Volitive Interjections||Primary or secondary interjections used as requests or commands. It also includes expressions that elicit a response or action from the person being addressed.||– Shh, the baby’s sleeping.|
– This way!- Ey, can you pass the wine?
|Emotive Interjections||Primary or secondary interjections used to show emotions or reactions||– Yikes! That sounds painful.|
– I love this. Yum!
– Ah! I’m so happy that you’re here!
|Cognitive Interjections||Primary or secondary interjections used to suggest an idea, a thought process or some level of thinking.||– Eureka! I’ve solved it.|
– We were looking for, um, the restroom.
– Uh, let me think for a second.
Rules for interjections in speaking are non-existent. They have no grammatical value so it doesn’t really matter how you use them or whether you use them at all. In speaking, we use them naturally as they are mostly reactionary expressions of sudden or extreme emotions. They could appear before, in the middle of, or after a sentence. Just like in some languages, English utilizes sounds or noises to express feelings, which have no standard spellings in writing but are appropriate means of communication. The few rules surrounding interjections in the English language have to do with writing them. Here are the general guidelines:
|Formal vs Informal Writing||We NEVER use interjections in academic or professional writing such as research papers or business proposals.|
However, whether interjections are acceptable in forms of writing surrounding the workplace could still depend on several factors such as company cultures or internal employee relationships.
Interjections are perfectly okay in fiction and creative writing.
|Interjections within sentences||Typically, interjections are found at the beginning or at the end of sentences. However, if you are writing creatively, it’s quite common to be deliberately ingenious.|
When using interjections in the middle of sentences, think of them as decorative elements that make your sentences pop. They’re not actually necessary but they can emphasize the parts of your writing that you want to highlight. You can enclose them with commas or dash/dashes, or place them inside parentheses. For example:
– The house was over 100 years old (Wow!) and it still stands strong.
– She may not say yes but, hey, at least I asked.
– We had to clean out the barn first, which was – yuck!
|Punctuations||Interjections are normally punctuated with exclamation points. But the way they’re punctuated actually depends on the situation or the intensity of emotion behind them. You may end an interjection with a period if the emotion behind it isn’t extreme or if you want to sound contradictory. You can also use a question mark when an interjection expresses uncertainty, solicits confirmation, or asks something.|
Examples of Interjections
1. Shh! Keep it down a notch.
2. Can you call Jimmy…er…Joey to come see this?
3. Huh? I didn’t get that, sorry.
4. He said we’ll go on foot. Na-uh, no way I’m walking.
5. Oh! I didn’t realize you were standing there.
6. Aargh! I told you to wait at the corner. You never listen!
7. Actually, um, I think you should have used this bottle.
8. Goodness! I can’t believe they haven’t finished decorating the room.
9. Phooey! I thought I had accidentally mentioned the secret.
10. Oops, I almost dropped the box.
11. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to eat it. Uh-oh.
12. Oh, what a cute café to take pictures in.
13. Aya! Something bit my leg!
14. How could you forget the key again? Ugh!
15. Mmm, this is seriously the best Tres Leches cake I’ve eaten.
Interjections Exercises with Answers
Exercise on Interjections
This exercise will test how well you understand interjections. Complete each sentence by picking the correct interjection from the list.
uh-huh ahh psst bravo um wow yay ugh ouch shh
1. __________! I burned my finger!
2. Wait, __________, I’m still trying to remember.
3. __________! I can’t wait to go on this road trip.
4. __________! That was the best performance I’ve ever seen.
5. __________. I think they’re still in the middle of their review.
6. Let me get his attention. __________.
7. __________! That’s really an amazing view.
8. __________, I also think it’s a great idea.
9. __________! I can’t believe the Wi-Fi is down again!
10. __________! You scared the daylights out of me!
1. Ouch! I burned my finger!
2. Wait, um, I’m still trying to remember.
3. Yay! I can’t wait to go on this road trip.
4. Bravo! That was the best performance I’ve ever seen.
5. Shh. I think they’re still in the middle of their review.
6. Let me get his attention. Psst.
7. Wow! That’s really an amazing view.
8. Uh-huh, I also think it’s a great idea.
9. Ugh! I can’t believe the Wi-Fi is down again!
10. Ahh! You scared the daylight’s out of me!
The following is a table of interjections listed according to the feelings they express or their purpose. We will purposely use each interjection only once. Take note that interjections can be used to express multiple emotions, some of which may not be on the list.
|admiration||wow, amazing, oh my||Wow, what a beautiful home!|
|annoyance||oy, hey, hmph||Hmph! You always make promises you can’t keep.|
|ask something; request repetition or confirmation||huh, what, eh, come again||Come again? I was distracted.|
|boredom||ho hum, sigh||Sigh! This is like watching paint dry.|
|call attention||psst, over here, watch/look out, ahem||Hey! Don’t touch the flowers!|
|disapproval||tsk tsk, tut tut||I can’t believe you did that. Tsk tsk.|
|disgust||ew, yuck, yuk, yikes, ick, blech||Ew! Take that away from me.|
|doubt||really, er, yeah right||You’re saying he did this willingly? Yeah, right.|
|frustration||aargh, grr||Grr! I’ve told you so many times!|
|joy||hurray, woo-hoo, yay, yippee||Woo-hoo! We won!|
|pain||aya, ouch, ah, ow, aw||Aw, it’s starting to hurt.|
|pity, sadness, regret||oh no, oh dear, alas, uh oh, oops||Oh dear, that’s too bad.|
|pleasure or finding something delicious||mmm, nice, nomnom, yummy, yum||Yummy! Who cooked the pasta?|
|realization||aha, eureka||Aha! I knew it!|
|relief||phew, phooey,||I thought she heard me. Phew!|
|surprise, shock, panic||uh oh, oh, jeepers, whoa, holy moly, holy cow, oh man, good grief||Whoa! I didn’t know they could run this fast!|
|take time to think||uh, um, hmm, well||Hmm, let me guess.|
Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners
Interjections are very common and are often used instinctively in speaking. In informal writing, the writer is at liberty of their usage. By nature, interjections are independent of the sentences they’re written with, so failing to use them properly is not exactly an issue. When writing, the more important concern is whether to use them at all or if you’re using an acceptable number. The rules, then, are for you to bend. Nevertheless, you should use interjections within their proper context. They won’t make sense if you haven’t properly or adequately established the reasoning behind them. Remember that many interjections – although they aren’t actual sentences – can stand alone. Without explanation, they won’t make sense. Lastly, it’s most appropriate not to use interjections in academic or business writing, regardless of having a casual or friendly relationship with the professor or colleague you’re writing to. You may exhibit behavior apropos to your individual rapport in conversation, but in writing school assignments or corporate emails, it’s best to steer away from interjections altogether.
Common Errors Made by English Learners
|Stray Interjections||In writing, it’s important to remember that interjections must be properly punctuated. Avoid merely placing an interjection without anything to mark or separate it from the rest of the sentence. For example:|
– Oh man the sunset looks great!
– I forgot to send the email oops after writing it.
– Oh man, the sunset looks great!
– I forgot to send the email (oops) after writing it.
|Wrong Intensity||Due to interjections usually expressing sudden bursts of emotions, they usually convey strong feelings of joy, relief, shock, surprise, anger, frustration, haste, alarm, etc. This is why exclamation points are normally used.|
However, other punctuation marks may also be used to establish an interjection’s intensity. A comma can lessen it, and a period can make it neutral. A question mark can express doubt or ignorance. Dashes, ellipses, and parentheses can make an interjection look like a throwaway comment or a side remark, used to signify sarcasm, humor, etc.
Be aware of the emotions behind the interjections you use in writing and punctuate them accordingly.
|Unnecessary Interjections||Dialogues are a common part of creative or fiction writing. But while interjections are used to liven up conversations between characters, it’s also crucial to make them sound natural. Dialogues that are riddled with too many interjections can be awkward, jarring, or forced. One of the reasons writers read their writing aloud is to ensure that their characters sound normal. Delete interjections when you need to; they don’t have to be there in the first place.|
Additionally, interjections can be used as a literary device to differentiate one character from another. You may indicate a characteristic that is easily surprised, lacks self-confidence, or is larger than life.
Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Interjections
Here are some key points about interjections that you should remember.
- Interjections have no grammatical value or connection to sentences. Although they contribute to emotional intensification, excluding interjections from your writing won’t change the meaning of your sentences.
- Some interjections can act as hesitation devices such as er, uh, and um. In speaking, they give you time to think or formulate the right statement. In writing, it can show characteristics, establish tension, create particular moods, and so on.
- The internet has provided a huge landscape for languages to evolve, and these days short forms are rife online and in telecommunications. Words like LOL, BRB, AFK, IYKYK, YOLO and many others may not be so common in most forms of writing, but they are prolific in text and chatroom messages, and social media posts.
- In speaking, when people are in a hurry or don’t feel like elaborating on a response, they use actual parts of speech to reply quickly. Some of the more common words are yes. no, hurry, now, quiet, great, fine, indeed, well and awesome.
- In creative writing, make sure you use interjections that make sense for your characters. A younger protagonist, for example, may not use words and expressions such as “dear heavens”, “goodness gracious”, “jeepers creepers,” and so on. In the same thread, an older character may not use BRB when replying to a text message.
Interjections Frequently Asked Questions
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