I changed the way I used exclamation points as a result of reading Dan Feigelson’s Practical Punctuation: Lessons on Rule Making and Rule Breaking in Elementary Writing.
Prior to reading Feigelson’s book I was guilty of using multiple exclamation points to express enthusiasm on students’ papers and my excitement when crafting e-mails to other adults. Tsk tsk. Since an exclamation point expresses emotion, using more than one is not necessary. Feigelson asserts:
When to Use an Exclamation Point
- Use an exclamation point to add emphasis to a statement. It is considered “incorrect” when used in sets (!! or !!!), should not be used often, and should not be used at the end of long sentences.
- Use an exclamation point to indicate that a statement is ironic or humorous: With all his griping, he deserves his own personal complaint department!
- Use an exclamation point to give a statement emphasis or to provide a feeling of extra emotion: These rules of punctuation can really be confusing!
Yikes! When I saw that it was considered “incorrect” to use more than one exclamation point, I eradicated the use of multiple exclamation points in my writing almost immediately.
Recently, I was in an undisclosed location in New York City with my friend Christina. We were in the restroom when she spotted a sign by the mirrors she thought would amuse me. I found it well-crafted, but ridiculous in terms of the amount of exclamation points that were used to convey the message (especially considering the capital letters that appeared for emphasis prior to the exclamation points). What do you think?
I’ve been photographing signs with problematic grammar to share going-forward. I think it’s helpful to use real-life examples with kids when teaching punctuation, spelling, etc. Do you have any interesting real life examples that you’ve used or are willing to share with our community that can help teach kids something about using conventions properly? If so, please share!
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.