Volitive Interjections

What are Volitive Interjections?

Volitive interjections are interjections that express requests or commands. It’s one of the types of interjections classified according to function and not structure. A volitive interjection is also used when a response or subsequent action is expected from the person to whom it is addressed. The word “hey,” for example, isn’t a request or command by nature, but it prompts the addressee to pay attention. Some primary and secondary interjections are volitive.

Here are some examples of volitive interjections in sentences:

  • Come, I’d like to show you something in the backyard.
  • I still have one more piece of luggage to pack. Wait!
  • Ey, can I talk to you for a second?
  • Oy, come look at this sick view!
  • Quiet! I think I hear something outside the tent.
lillypad english learning app banner

Volitive Interjections Rules

Volitive interjections are common in speaking. As they are used to convey reactions to intense feelings, their usage is often immediate or automatic. Grammatically, they possess no value and can be used freely in speech. Whatever rules govern them are related to how and when they’re written: spelling, punctuation, and purpose. Here are the general guidelines:

Formal vs Informal WritingAcademic and professional writing are devoid of interjections. They shouldn’t appear in school or business documents such as contracts, evaluation reports, research papers, and so on.

Interjections may be allowed in low-key business letters like email replies or customer care letters if the company has an easygoing culture or if employees are generally amiable toward each other, but using interjections in highly formal writing is largely considered incompetent and unprofessional.

Interjections, however, are used liberally across different forms of creative writing, including essays and marketing copy.
Interjections within sentencesWe normally find interjections at the start or end of sentences, but in creative writing, they can also be placed in the middle. In this case, however, they should be enclosed in commas, dashes, or parentheses. Moreover, they should be inserted in the proper sentence breaks. For example:

– It should be pointed out (ahem) that he’s the most good-looking person in class.
– Don’t come any closer – stop! – or I’ll call the police!
– If you scroll down to – shh, I’m on the phone – the bottom of the page, you’ll see it.
PunctuationsIt’s sensible for interjections to be usually punctuated with exclamation points because they often indicate how someone reacts to intense emotion. But other punctuation marks can modify the intensity of the feeling behind an interjection. For example:

– Comma (,): signifies a less intense reaction
– Period (.): signifies a neutral reaction.
– Question mark (?): signifies suspicion, ignorance, or curiosity.
Table of Rules for Volitive Interjections
lillypad english language software CTA

Examples of Volitive Interjections

1. Ahem. Can I have a minute of your time?

2. We can still make it. Hurry!

3. Hey! I already told you not to play on the grass!

4. Listen, the idea is great but we still need to vote.

5. Why are these ducks following me? Shoo!

6. Don’t pick it up – oy! – what did I just say?

7. There! Just a little to the right of the top branch.

8. Enough! I’ve had it with the both of you.

9. We are not supposed to go in there. Stop.

10. Shh, maybe they’ll go away if we don’t answer.

11. That pole is about to fall – look out!

12. Someone give me a pen. Quick!

13. Quiet, I’m trying to watch the movie.

14. My sister screamed “Boo!” to scare Dad.

15. Easy, you might cut off the wire.

lillypad english learning app banner

Volitive Interjections Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Volitive Interjections

This exercise will test how well you understand interjections. Complete each sentence by picking the correct primary interjection from the list.

enough      boo      shoo      quiet      oy      stop      encore      look      wait      psst

1. “____________!” The crowd cried out repeatedly until the musicians came back onstage.

2. You’re not supposed to be in here. ____________! Authorized personnel only!

3. ____________, we need to gather as many pledges as we can this month.

4. ____________, please. Some people aren’t done with the quiz.

5. This is the police. ____________! Stay right where you are.

6. A bunch of sheep is blocking the way. This looks crazy. ____________!

7. There she is, let’s move closer. ____________! Lisa! We are over here!

8. ____________! You’re not leaving without a doggy pack. We have so much food left over.

9. I knew Kyle was behind the door so I surprised him before he could say “____________!”

10. ____________! We’re quite tired of your constant excuses. This isn’t the first ten times.


1. “Encore!” The crowd cried out repeatedly until the musicians came back onstage.

2. You’re not supposed to be in here. Oy! Authorized personnel only!

3. Look, we need to gather as many pledges as we can this month.

4. Quiet, please. Some people aren’t done with the quiz.

5. This is the police. Stop! Stay right where you are.

6. A bunch of sheep is blocking the way. This looks crazy. Shoo!

7. There she is, let’s move closer. Psst! Lisa! We are over here!

8. Wait! You’re not leaving without a doggy pack. We have so much food left over.

9. I knew Kyle was behind the door so I surprised him before he could say “Boo!”

10. Enough! We’re quite tired of your constant excuses. This isn’t the first ten times.

lillypad language learning app big box

Volitive Interjections List

Primary Volitive Interjections List


Secondary Volitive Interjections List

look out
watch out

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Interjections are a common part of speaking. Since they are ordinarily reactionary to whatever surge of emotion a person feels at the moment, interjections are not controlled by grammar rules. It’s in writing that some rules are followed somewhat strictly. For informal writing, where opinions or character development may be the goal, an author can include interjections when appropriate. However, some rules have to be followed. For example, applying appropriate punctuation, establishing proper and adequate context, and making sure they aren’t overused. Despite not being actual sentences, interjections can stand alone, but without sufficient details, they won’t make sense. In terms of formal writing, a casual or friendly type of communication between colleagues is most suitable in verbal interactions. Even if the workplace culture is laid back and easygoing, it’s still best practice to keep away from using interjections in corporate documents and correspondence overall.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand emotive interjections and secondary interjections.

lillypad english learning app banner

Common Errors Made by English Learners

Common ErrorsExplanation/Examples
Stray InterjectionsA common error is forgetting to use punctuation marks with interjections. Interjections should always have something that marks or distinguishes them from the rest of the sentence. For example:

Without punctuation:

– Yes, thanks for the heads up shh, can’t you see I’m on the phone yes, sorry, I’m still here.
– Look at this point, we have to start finding shelter.

With punctuation:

– Yes, thanks for the heads up – shh, can’t you see I’m on the phone – yes, sorry, I’m still here.
Look, at this point, we have to start finding shelter.
Wrong IntensityInterjections are reactions to unexpected swells of emotions, so they usually express powerful levels of joy, alarm, relief, surprise, rage, annoyance, haste, and so on. It makes sense that they are commonly punctuated with exclamation points.

Nevertheless, other punctuation marks can be used to modify an interjection’s intensity. A comma can tone it down, and a period can neutralize it. A question mark can express ignorance, curiosity, or suspicion. Dashes, ellipses, and parentheses can simulate the appearance of a commentary or a side note and can work well as a device for contradiction or entertainment.

Keep in mind the level of emotion you want to highlight in your writing and punctuate them properly to maximize their effectiveness.
Unnecessary InterjectionsWell-written dialogues make creative or fiction writing more engaging and full-bodied. But while interjections are used to boost the literary value of exchanges between characters, it’s arguably more important to make them sound realistic. Dialogues that are heavily filled with interjections can feel forced, exaggerated, or off-putting. It’s a habit for many writers to read their writing aloud to make their characters natural. Remember that there’s no actual need to use interjections, so remove them if it’s necessary to do so or if they don’t provide added value to your writing.

Moreover, interjections are literary devices to differentiate your characters from each other or to solidify their unique personalities. For example, a character who says um a lot may depict someone with low self-confidence, while a character who uses strong interjections can display an affected or pompous personality.
Volitive Interjections Common Errors Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Volitive Interjections

Here are some key takeaways from this article about volitive interjections.

  1. Volitive Interjections don’t take part in any grammatical framework. Indeed, they can serve as highlights to powerful emotions or strong opinions, but excluding them from your writing won’t significantly affect the meaning of your sentences.
  2. Primary interjections such as ahem or psst don’t necessarily indicate commands or requests, but they fall under the second type of volitive interjections, which prompts action from the person being addressed. Both examples are used to make the addressee pay attention.
  3. The internet provides a huge platform for languages. These days short forms are prolific online and in telecommunications. Words like W8, BRB, L8r, and many others may not be so widespread in most forms of writing, but they are everywhere in text messages, social media posts, and chatrooms.
  4. When people are in a hurry, they don’t feel particularly keen on giving answers longer than a single word and use actual parts of speech to reply fast. These are considered interjections and the most volitive interjections are hurry. stop, wait, quiet, look, and listen.
  5. In writing, ensure that the interjections you use are faithful to your characters. A young character, for example, may not use expressions such as “dear heavens”, “uppsy daisy”, “holy moly,” and so on. In the same thread, a 60-year-old protagonist probably won’t use BRB to let you know that you should wait.
lillypad english language software CTA

Interjections Frequently Asked Questions

Interjections are short words used to express sudden reactions. They appear a lot in speech, oftentimes without particular thought or intention behind them. In speaking, they are used without grammatical limits or rules. In writing, however, they are punctuated to show different states of emotional intensity. Some parts of speech such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs can be used as interjections, but some are only sounds (spelled in certain ways when written) that are exclusively used as interjections and have no meaning without the right context.

Below are volitive interjections (in bold) in sentences:

1. Wait! I haven’t received a confirmation email yet.
2. Stop! You might erase some files by accident if you do that.
3. Are you all right? Hey. Are you hurt anywhere?
4. Belinda – psst – would you mind looking after my bag for just a minute?
5. Ahem, weren’t you the drummer at Leah’s party last week?
6. Is there any way that you can help speed this up? Please?
7. I think the guard noticed us. Run!
8. Enough! You’re giving me a headache.
9. Look! There she is! Let’s wave at her.
10. Class, can you be silent for a minute? Quiet!

They may appear to be. They can stand alone, which means they can be punctuated similarly. But they’re not actually sentences as most interjections don’t have the same aspects of sentences such as verbs, subjects, and objects.

Absolutely not. They have completely different uses. Conjunctions like and, but, or, also, so, and because are used to link words, phrases, and clauses. Sentences with conjunctions won’t be complete if you removed them. Interjections, on the other hand, possess basically no value. Let’s look at some examples:

Interjection: Quick! There’s been an accident at the lake!
Conjunction: Orly wakes up early because of yoga class.

If we removed “quick” from the first sentence, the sentence would remain unaffected and retain its meaning. However, if we take out “because” from the second sentence, it would become a run-on sentence with unclear meaning, which would make it both grammatically and communicatively incorrect.

Not with any official documents like performance reviews, incident reports, survey analyses, and so on. With emails and memos, using interjections could be acceptable if the company maintains a casual office environment or if you and your colleague, associate, or customer have a friendly relationship. Nevertheless, we would still recommend reserving interjections for casual office interactions and avoiding them completely in any kind of business correspondence.

lillypad english learning app banner

Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!

What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! Lilly’s a personal English tutor, and has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly, you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!

Additionally, the platform incorporates goal-setting capabilities, essential tracking & reporting, gamification, anywhere-anytime convenience, and significant cost savings compared to traditional tutoring methodologies.

At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

…it’s a whole new story!

Do you want to improve your English? Visit www.lillypad.ai.

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!