Exclamation mark

 The Note of Exclamation !

or of admiration, indicates surprise, pleasure, or sorrow; as "Oh! Ah! Goodness! Beautiful! I am astonished! Woe is me!"

Sometimes, when an expression of strong surprise or pleasure is intended, two notes of this character are employed, thus!! 


The Mark of Exclamation

XXXIV. The mark of exclamation is placed after interjections and words used interjectionally; that is to say, after expressions of an exclamatory nature. The exclamation may be one of surprise or of fear, or the utterance of a wish, a command, or a prayer.

Quick! Begone! Out of my sight!

Heaven preserve us!

Would that better feelings moved them!

O Lord, be merciful unto me, a sinner!

Interjections are not always followed immediately, and are sometimes not allowed at all, by a mark of exclamation. No rule can be given more precise than this: (1) That we should not insert a mark of exclamation immediately after an interjection, unless we should make a distinct pause after it in speaking; and (2) that no mark of exclamation is to be used at all, unless the exclamatory nature of the sentence is more or less strongly marked. It is useful to notice the difference between "O" and "Oh." The former is used only before the vocative case, and never has a mark of exclamation, or indeed any point, placed immediately after it.

Alas! all our hopes are blasted.Lo, he cometh!O Dido, Dido, most unhappy Dido!Unhappy wife, still more unhappy widow!Oh, do not reckon that old debt to my account to-day!

XXXV. The mark of exclamation is placed after sentences which, though interrogatory in form, are really exclamatory.

How could he have been so foolish!

And shall he never see an end to this state of things! Shall he never have the due reward of labour! Shall unsparing taxation never cease to make him a miserable dejected being, a creature famishing in the midst of abundance, fainting, expiring with hunger's feeble moan, surrounded by a carolling creation!

This rule might be put in another way by saying that a mark of exclamation, and not a point of interrogation, is placed after what are called rhetorical questions, or statements made more striking by being put in the form of questions. They are not asked for the sake of receiving a direct answer, and are in reality exclamations. Still all rhetorical questions are not thus punctuated; the point of interrogation is sometimes more effective. In each case we must decide whether the sentence strikes us most as a question or as the expression of emotion.

XXXVI. The mark of exclamation is sometimes placed after an ironical statement.

They did not fight, tens against thousands; they did not fight for wives and children, but for lands and plunder: therefore they are heroes!

The mark of exclamation keeps up the semblance of seriousness which is of the essence of irony.

XXXVII. The mark of exclamation is placed after the statement of some absurdity.

He has been labouring to prove that Shakespeare's plays were written by Bacon!

To him the parliamentary vote was a panacea for all human ills, and the ballot-box an object as sacred as the Holy Grail to a knight of the Round Table!

The same reason applies to its use after such sentences as after ironical statements.

XXXVIII. The mark of exclamation may be placed after any impressive or striking thought.

The Angel of Death has been abroad throughout the land: you may almost hear the very beating of his wings!

It may be doubted whether the mark of exclamation is in such cases of any great service; for the impressiveness of a sentence ought to appear in the sentence itself, or to be given to it by the context. There is a real danger, as the style of many people shows, in thinking that punctuation is intended to save the trouble of careful composition. In putting the mark after pure exclamations, usage is more or less uniform; with regard to impressive sentences, we are left entirely to our own discretion.

XXXIX. When a sentence contains more than one exclamation, sometimes the mark of exclamation is placed only after the last, sometimes it is placed after each of them, the test being whether or not they are in reality, as well as in form, several exclamations.

Though all are thus satisfied with the dispensations of Nature, how few listen to her voice! how few follow her as a guide!

What a mighty work he has thus brought to a successful end, with what perseverance, what energy, with what fruitfulness of resource!