In this final section, we will discuss an often-overused stylistic tool to convey emotive language, the exclamation mark (!). The exclamation mark is typically used to express emotion and carries connotations of heightened tone and urgency, thus its usage can be solecistic. Further, it is an informal use of grammar and thus commonly used for casual correspondence. In native English, it is often interpreted as urgent, forward, and direct, which can also suggest a demanding tone or anger. Therefore, this punctuation mark is mainly reserved for expressive writing, such as dialogue, screenwriting, and creative writing, and thus is rarely (if ever) used in academic prose.

In the examples below, non-native speakers add an exclamation mark that a native speaker might read to have a very strong feeling. Non-native speakers should take care to not overuse the exclamation mark during their correspondence with journals, peer reviewers, authors and colleagues.

 

Example of non-native writer usageInterpretation by native speakerActual intention of the writer
Here is my new version!Stop pressuring me already and here is what you demanded from me.Attached is my new version. I am glad to finally finish it and send it to you.
Have a good day!Glad I can finally stop dealing with you.I hope you have a nice day.
I need it quickly!You aren’t being quick enough for me and I feel like I am your boss telling you what to do.This is an urgent thing I need and I’d appreciate if you can respond without too much delay.
I received the file!I no longer need anything else from you.I have gladly received what you sent.
Did you receive my last email?!The email was very important and I need to know if you have it yet so I am nagging you so you will answer more quickly.I’ve sent you an email and would like a response.

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