Wowzer! Who Knew Interjections Were So Useful?

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What are they?

Interjections breathe life into what you write by expressing strong emotions, giving commands or protesting something. Used correctly, they are powerful and give more feeling and genuineness to your words. Used incorrectly, they weaken your words or make them seem too forceful. Interjections are words or phrases, and there are two types: mild and strong. Both types carry the ability to stand alone as a “sentence,” even though they do not contain the common elements of what dictates a complete sentence. Similarly, they are grammatically separated from any sentence in which they make a home.

Mild interjections

Of the two types, mild interjections are calmer and more refined. They are easily used at the beginning or the end of a sentence, depending on where they inject meaning. Mild interjections are punctuated with sentence-ending punctuation or are offset with commas. Exclamation points are never used for mild interjections, as the use of one implies more emotion than necessary. Some common interjections include “yes,” “no,” “well,” “indeed,” “absolutely,” “okay,” “oh” and more. You can easily find a more exhaustive list with a cursory internet search. See the below examples on how mild interjections are used.

Example 1: Well, this holds true as long as you commit to it and put in the hard work (“well” is the interjection and an introductory element”).

Example 2: The movie was great, eh? (“Eh” is the interjection.)

Example 3: Okay. That was not as bad as you thought, right? (Both “okay” and “right” are interjections – the first standing alone as a sentence, and the second ending a sentence.)

Strong interjections

Strong interjections are the attention grabbers in the pair. They express a more abrupt element of surprise, intense emotion or strong feeling. These interjections always end with an exclamation point and stand alone as a sentence. It is not unusual for a sentence that also ends with an exclamation point to follow a strong interjection. Many words are used as strong interjections, even some that work as mild ones, too. Some are most commonly used as such, and others are normal words injected into your writing to express something very forcefully. See the below examples for examples of strong interjections.

Example 1: Yes! I want to marry you! (“Yes” is a strong interjection – without the exclamation point, the sense of the intense emotion is lost.)

Example 2: Yuck! That steak was definitely overcooked (“Yuck” is used as a strong interjection.)

When to use them

Whenever you use interjections, it is important to consider the context of the piece you are writing. While some mild interjections are appropriate in moderation for professional, business or academic pieces, strong interjections have no place in formal writing unless they are part of a direct quote. Now, for fiction, more informal writing or any piece with dialogue, interjections are extremely useful in creating a more human element to your words, as interjections are often used in everyday speech. When choosing to use interjections, stay aware that some words function as both mild and strong ones; the distinction comes from how you punctuate them.

Overuse

While interjections are powerful, the overuse of them diminishes the effect they have on your words. Never, ever forget that writing well is about creating variety in your sentences and words to keep your readers engaged. Properly using interjections when they strengthen your writing and avoiding them when they weaken it is a mastered skill, but one that serves to help you excel as a writer.