It’s notoriously difficult to gauge the tone when communicating in writing. Because of this, people often use exclamation points to make their prose look light, but it’s easy to get carried away: use too many exclamation points and you’ll sound overzealous, but if you don’t use any at all, you will become the passive-aggressive texter it is uniformly despised.
We could complain about the politics of grammar – how can something as insignificant as an exclamation mark be so controversial – but let’s see how to use this grammar tool appropriately.
Use exclamation points differently for different situations
It’s good to recognize the benefits of an exclamation mark when writing an email or text. Respond to a text with a dull “of course” or a placid “ok”, is the textual equivalent of a major. But instead, send a “of course!” or an “ok!” Assures the recipient that you don’t hate them and want them to die. It depends on the tone and being aware of putting on a good one is a positive thing! (See what I just did there? You did?!?!)
But you don’t want to go over it either. Stirring your messages with exclamation marks is the strangest thing in an office environment, as you have to distinguish between genuine enthusiasm and being superficial! excited! about! all!
As Grammarly argues, if you write to office colleagues, save the exclamations for the real positive feeling. There is no need to use one when discussing a bigger problem, as your coworkers might assume that “you are yelling at them.”
When writing a longer email, it’s also worth imagining what your writing would look like if you read it aloud. Even if you are really excited about an upcoming report, three sentences with exclamation marks in a row might seem! Too much! Excited! Try to stick to one exclamation point per paragraph.
This might sound a bit strict, so a less stringent rule of thumb is to limit exclamation marks to one every three sentences. At least that’s how I see it. You should try! (Please observe my method in practice).
It’s different when it comes to dating
For every exclamation mark you might send in an office email, the impact is only amplified when you try to seduce someone online or send an occasional text message, especially when they are. is a stranger. Meredith Doré, a relationship expert who creates ghost dating profiles, explains to Lifehacker the intricacies of navigating the field.
She says “Any excess is too much with a stranger. It’s important to keep in mind that chatting with a best friend is different from messaging on a dating app. A good thing to keep in mind when talking to someone you’ve just matched up with is knowing that an exclamation mark “is fine in an exchange, but they shouldn’t end every sentence.”
Basically everything is contextual. This is something to keep in mind for dating but also for the wider communication of everyday life.
For example, if someone escaped from a burning building and saved four lives in the process, and this is an anecdote shared in an app exchange, it is appropriate to use more than [exclamation point] but someone who claims to have visited 20 countries is not eligible.
When it comes to being frustrated with something, it’s probably best to avoid the exclamation mark altogether. After all, a period at the end of a sentence in a text is a pretty good indication that you might be bored. But when it comes to all the other feelings, use moderation when it comes to the almighty exclamation.