What Is an Interjection? | Examples, Definition & Types
An interjection is a word or phrase used to express a feeling or to request or demand something. While interjections are a part of speech, they are not grammatically connected to other parts of a sentence.
Interjections are common in everyday speech and informal writing. While some interjections such as “well” and “indeed” are acceptable in formal conversation, it’s best to avoid interjections in formal or academic writing.
How are interjections used in sentences?
Interjections add meaning to a sentence or context by expressing a feeling, making a demand, or emphasizing a thought.
Interjections can be either a single word or a phrase, and they can be used on their own or as part of a sentence.
As interjections are a grammatically independent part of speech, they can often be excluded from a sentence without impacting its meaning.
A primary interjection is a word or sound that can only be used as an interjection. Primary interjections do not have alternative meanings and can’t function as another part of speech (i.e., noun, verb, or adjective).
Primary interjections are typically just sounds without a clear etymology. As such, while they sometimes have standard spellings, a single interjection may be written in different ways (e.g., “um-hum” or “mm-hmm”).
A secondary interjection is a word that is typically used as another part of speech (such as a noun, verb, or adjective) that can also be used as an interjection.
A volitive interjection is used to give a command or make a request. For example, the volitive interjection “shh” or “shush” is used to command someone to be quiet.
An emotive interjection is used to express an emotion or to indicate a reaction to something. For example, the emotive interjection “ew” is used to express disgust.
Curse words, also called expletives, are commonly used (in informal contexts) as emotive interjections to express frustration or anger.
A cognitive interjection is used to express a thought or indicate a thought process. For example, the cognitive interjection “um” can express confusion or indicate that the speaker is thinking.
Greetings and parting words
Greetings and parting words/phrases are interjections used to acknowledge or welcome someone or to express good wishes at the end of a conversation.
Interjections and punctuation
How an interjection is punctuated depends on the context and the intensity of the emotion or thought being expressed.
Exclamation points are most commonly used along with interjections to emphasize the intensity of an emotion, thought, or demand.
When the emotion or thought being expressed is less extreme, an interjection can also be followed by a period. If an interjection is used to express uncertainty or to ask a question, it should be followed by a question mark.
When an interjection is used as part of a sentence, it should be set off from the rest of the sentence using commas.
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Frequently asked questions
- What are the different kinds of interjections?
- What punctuation mark is most closely associated with interjections?
- What are some examples of interjections?
An interjection can have different meanings depending on how it is used. Some common interjections, along with an explanation of how they are commonly used, are listed below.
Interjections Function Yes, um-hum, indeed, sure Used to express agreement Ew, yuck, ugh Used to express disgust Alas, damn, darn, dang, blast, shoot Used to express dissatisfaction Yay, woo-hoo, nice, yippee Used to express joy Whoa, wow Used to express surprise Hmm, er, um, well Used to express uncertainty
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