Interjections are a great way to make your speaking and writing sound more natural. They are often used in casual conversation and informal writing.
Interjections are not grammatically related to the other words in a sentence, and they are usually followed by an exclamation mark, comma, or question mark. In this article, we’ll look at the different types of interjections, when to use them, and how to use them in English.
What is an Interjection?
Interjection definition: "a word or phrase used to express a strong emotion or to fill a pause in the conversation." These expressions are usually brief and can stand alone, or they can be attached to a sentence. Interjections can mean different things, and they often stand out from the rest of the words in a sentence because of the emotion they express.
Interjections are not grammatically related to the other words in a sentence, and they are usually followed by an exclamation mark, comma, or question mark. In this reference, we’ll look at the different types of interjections, when they're relevant, and how to use them in English.
Interjections can be divided into three main types: primary interjections, secondary interjections, and volitive interjections.
Primary interjections are words and phrases used to express strong emotions, such as surprise, joy, anger, or disgust. They can stand alone or be attached to a sentence. Examples of primary interjections include:
- Oh no!
You can use primary interjections to express a wide range of emotions. For example, you could say “Oh!” when you’re surprised, “Yikes!” when you’re scared, or “Hurrah!” when you’re excited.
Secondary interjections are words and phrases used to express milder emotions, such as disappointment, surprise, or joy. They can stand alone or be attached to a sentence. Examples of secondary interjections include:
- Ah well.
You can use secondary interjections to emphasize something. For example, you could say “Ah!” when you’re disappointed, “Oops” when you make a mistake, or “Aha!” when you figure something out.
Volitive interjections are words used to express a desire or an urgent request. They are usually found at the beginning of a sentence and followed by an exclamation mark. Examples of volitive interjections include:
- Come on!
- Look out!
- Go away!
- Let's go!
You can use volitive interjections to get what you want. For example,t you could say “Come on!” when you want someone to hurry up, “Help!” when you need assistance, or “Let's go!” when you want to start something.
Different Emotive Interjections
It's very common to use interjections specifically for emotions, so we can divide English interjections by the kind of emotion they display and how strong it is. Let's first take a look at different emotions we might want to express:
Common interjections of joy and delight:
Common interjections of surprise:
Common interjections of sorrow:
- Oh no.
Common interjections of relief:
- Thank goodness!
Interjection strength: Mild vs Strong
Interjections in English can also express different level of emotion. So, we can divide them into mild and strong interjections based on this.
Mild interjections express mild emotion. They can stand alone or be attached to a sentence. Examples of mild interjections:
- Ah well.
- Ah ha.
Mild interjections can help you sound more conversational and polite. They can also be used to show that you're listening and understanding what someone is saying. For example, you might say "Ah, I see" to someone if they explain something to you.
Strong interjections express strong emotion. They can also stand alone or be attached to a sentence. Examples of strong interjections:
- Oh my!
Strong interjections can help you call attention to your point, emphasize a feeling, or express excitement. For example, if you are looking forward to something, you might say “Yippee!” or “Yay!” to emphasize your feeling.
Cognitive interjections are words and phrases used to express thought or opinion. They usually don't carry much meaning and are used to fill pauses or gaps in conversation. Examples of cognitive interjections:
- I see.
Cognitive interjections can be a great way to express empathy as well. For example, "Oh, makes sense," or "Ah, that must have been difficult." Using them can help you sound more natural and understanding when speaking with others.
Greeting and Parting Interjection
Greeting and parting interjections are words and phrases used to greet or bid farewell. They can stand alone or be attached to a sentence. Examples of greeting and parting interjections include:
Greeting and parting interjections are the simplest way to show politeness when interacting with others. They can be used to start or end a conversation, or even just to be polite with someone you don't know very well.
When to Use Interjections
Interjections are used to express emotion, thought, and opinion. They can be used in casual conversation or informal writing and are often used to fill a pause in the conversation.
Interjections can be used to express strong emotions, such as surprise, joy, anger, or disgust. They can also be used to express more mild emotions, such as disappointment, surprise, or joy. Interjections can also be used to express thought or opinion and can be used to greet or bid farewell.
In general, if you're deciding whether to use an interjection or not, consider the context and audience. Interjections can be a great way to express yourself, but they are more common in a casual context and informal conversations.
Interjection Grammar - Exclamation Mark, Comma, and Question Mark
Interjections are usually followed by an exclamation mark, comma, or question mark. An exclamation mark helps us express strong emotion, while a comma is used to express mild emotion. A question mark is used to express thought or opinion.
- Oh! (Strong emotion)
- Ah. (Mild emotion)
- Hmm? (Thought or opinion)
Most interjections are put at the beginning of the sentence. However, they can also work in the middle or end of the sentence, depending on the context.
For example, if you're expressing surprise:
- Oh! I can't believe it! (Beginning of the sentence)
- What—Oh!—just happened? (Middle of the sentence)
- That was unexpected, oh! (End of the sentence)
Interjection Use Guide
Make sure you don't confuse interjections for words that have a similar sound. For example, someone quietly saying "wow" could sound like they're saying "now" instead.
In addition, try to use interjections sparingly in casual contexts. If you use too many interjections, it can be off-putting and take away from the conversation. For example, if someone is telling a story, they may not appreciate it if you keep saying "oh!" and "wow!" throughout.
Finally, be aware of how your interjections may be received by other people. Some interjections such as "ugh" or "pfft" can come off as rude or dismissive. In some cases, it's better to express yourself without using an interjection at all.
Some interjections, such as, "like" can be fine in informal contexts, but it's important to be mindful of how you use them. If you say it too often, it can make your speech sound immature and unprofessional.
Interjections in Writing
Text messages, emails, and other forms of written communication present a unique challenge when it comes to using interjections. Since you can't rely on facial expressions or tone of voice to convey emotion, it's best to use interjections sparingly. If you use them, make sure they fit the context and tone of the message.
In general, it's best to avoid using interjections in formal writing such as business emails or essays. There are some exceptions, such as if you're writing a story or a letter to a friend. In these cases, you can use them more freely as long as they fit with the overall tone.
Overall, using interjections in writing is a delicate balancing act between conveying emotion and being professional. Err on the side of caution and cut any unnecessary exclamations or slang words.
Interjections are words and phrases used to express emotion, thought, and opinion. They are usually found at the beginning of a sentence and can stand alone or be attached to a sentence. Interjections can be used to express strong emotions such as surprise, joy, anger, or disgust, or they can express milder emotions such as disappointment, surprise, or joy. They are also used to express thought or opinion and can be used to greet or bid farewell. Interjections are usually followed by an exclamation mark, comma, or question mark.
With this handy reference, you should have a better understanding of what are interjections and how to use them correctly!