Ending Punctuation

Hello, Write Owls. Welcome to Day Nine of Grammar 110. Today we are talking about periods, exclamation points, and question marks.

These three types of punctuation are used to end sentences. The sentence’s type indicates which punctuation you use (see my previous lesson on sentence types here).

Declarative and imperative sentences use periods. Exclamatory sentences and interjections (see part of speech lesson here) use exclamation points. Interrogative sentences use question marks.

Examples:

I am a writer. (This is a declarative sentence, so it uses a period.)

Write a story. (This is an imperative sentence, so it uses a period.)

I love writing! (This is an exclamatory sentence, so it uses an exclamation point.)

Wow! This story is great. (Wow is an interjection, so it is followed by an exclamation point.)

Do you write stories? (This is an interrogative sentence, so it uses a question mark.)

I want to note something about exclamation points. I’ve seen some authors (one of them is very famous) use way too many exclamation points. Exclamation points emphasize excitement. Like with everything that implies emphasis, overusing it can cause it to lose its emphasis. If you have a bunch of sentences that end in exclamation points, your reader is going to start ignoring them because they’re commonplace. You don’t pay attention to sentences that end in periods because there are so many of them, but you notice when sentences deviate from that norm and use an exclamation point or question mark. You also shouldn’t use exclamation points in two consecutive sentences. Use it in the first, and its emphasis will carry forward to the second.

If a person is shouting or is really excited, mark the first sentence with an exclamation point, and your reader will understand the rest of their dialogue has that same emphasis. If you say your character shouted something, your reader knows there’s emphasis; an exclamation point is redundant.

In terms of using an exclamation point and a question mark together at the end of a sentence, I recommend using only the question mark. Find some other way to indicate the emphasis.

That’s all I have for you today. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments down below, and I will answer them either as a reply or in my Q&A on Saturday.

For practice, see if you can determine what punctuation goes in the blanks in these sentences. If you want, you can leave your answers in the comments, and I’ll check them.

1. Wow_ Harvard accepted me _

2. I am majoring in English_

3. Are you going to Harvard_

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