Remember Ron Weasley’s Mother? BAM!

A bang, a screamer, a gasper, a slammer, or a startler, a shriek, a pling, a shout pole, and a dembanger. These words mean one thing “!”.

Remember Ron Weasley’s mother? And the “Screamer” she sent Ron when he flew the car to Hogwarts with Harry?

Now, that’s what I call an exclamation mark!

Exclamation points were originally called the “note of admiration.” They are now used to express excitement, surprise, astonishment, or any other strong emotion. Any exclamatory sentence can be followed properly by an exclamation mark, to add additional emphasis. After all, isn’t it a lot more exciting to say “I am excited!” than to say “I am excited.”

They are used commonly (sometimes too commonly) after interjections (words or phrases that are used to exclaim, command or protest). Interrogatories include words such as “oh, wow, and boy” For example, Wow! This grammar stuff is interesting! Boy! I wish I’d learned it before! Oh! That’s right, I did!

And multiple exclamation marks are just too easy: once you type / write one, why not keep going?!!!!!

I love exclamations. I love exclaiming! But, the problem really is that this little symbol of punctuation is overused! No!


Picture this: beautiful sunny day in Jamaica (I know!). You’re sitting by the pool or swimming in the turquoise waters, someone has just handed you something cold with an umbrella in it. Exclamation marks seem warranted, don’t they?

Or, you’ve just climbed a mountain and at the top, there’s a polar bear and a grizzly bear. Oops, forgot to tell you that you’re in Yukon. That’s a scenario that could require several exclamation marks, especially if the bears are hungry. But, really, does it?

  1. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.”

I laugh at my own jokes, especially when no one else is around to hear them but I try extremely hard not to use exclamation marks in writing, serious writing that is. Too many exclamation marks, like too many ellipses (…) are distracting and take away from the significance of the mark and the text.

People who write for marketing LOVE exclamation marks but they are unnecessary – totally – when the caption accompanies a stunning photograph or some well-written text. The picture and the words will convey the message, will tell the story, without screaming.

One thought on “Remember Ron Weasley’s Mother? BAM!

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  1. This from the Time Magazine on National Punctuation Day:

    “Exclamation marks are becoming harder to avoid, for those who would like to avoid them.

    “As many have noted, the period that used to innocuously signal the end of a thought—like an orchestra conductor pinching his hand—has taken on a brusque aura these days, leaving the reader of any declarative sentence open to detect apathy or annoyance. This has led to a rise in exclamation marks, because people need something to fill the gaps left by informative cues we get only in face-to-face communication—the raised brows, the wide eyes, the smile. Fearing that we could come across as unfriendly, we tack on an exclamation mark (“Thanks!”) to make sure our fine disposition comes across.

    “The data supporting this shift is largely anecdotal, but the anecdotes are abundant. “The exclamation mark, once reserved for expressing joy or excitement, now simply marks baseline politeness,” writes New York Magazine’s Melissa Dahl, who goes on to quote a grammarian who describes them as nearly “mandatory” in email. “Dealing with such bare bones language,” says Shea, “you use whatever help you can get.” (If you don’t want this kind of help, there is a handy TIME guide on alternatives.)”

    Say it ain’t so, Joe!


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