What is an interjection? An interjection is one of the eight major parts of speech, along with verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions. Some grammarians believe interjections are the least important part of speech. That might be because interjections aren't generally required in order for the meaning of a sentence to be clear.
Interjections, like "wow" and "ouch," are solely designed to convey emotion in an abrupt and exclamatory way. They express meaning or feeling in a word or two. They do not relate grammatically to the other parts of the sentence, nor do they help the reader understand the relationship between words and phrases in the sentence.
Instead, interjections simply convey the way the author (or speaker) is feeling. Interjections are rarely used in academic or formal writing; they're more common in fiction or artistic writing. They're usually, but not always, offset by an exclamation point (which is also used to show emotion).
You'll find interjections at the beginning of sentences, in the middle of sentences, at the end of sentences, and sometimes as standalone sentences on their own.
Interjections are commonly used at the beginning of the sentence. They're also associated with a punctuation mark designed to convey emotion: the exclamation point.
"Yikes, I didn't realize that there was a test on grammar today!"
"Oh no, I can't believe that it is snowing here again!"
"Wow, this is such a pleasant surprise!"
In these sentences, the interjection ("yikes", "oh no" and "wow") appear at the beginning of the sentence. In addition, the emotion is strong and the sentence itself ends with an exclamation point to illustrate that..
Interjections don't always have to be at the beginning of a sentence. They can appear in the middle, at the end, or anywhere else where the author wants to interject a bit of feeling and emotion. For example:
The interjection is found at the end of this sentence. The interjection "huh" is designed to express confusion (or perhaps dismay) at the continued snow falling. In this example, the emotion wasn't an emotion that necessitated an exclamation point--instead, the interjection turned the sentence into a question.
Here's another example:
The interjection, "my gosh," is found in the middle of this sentence. It's designed to express the author's emphasis on his opinion and no exclamation point was required.
An interjection can also be used by itself as a standalone sentence.
The interjection "oh gosh" is a standalone sentence with an exclamation mark. This is grammatically correct, even though "Oh gosh" doesn't contain a subject or verb, both normally required for a complete thought. The interjection--or the emotion--is the entire point of the sentence.
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of interjections in the English language. Most are designed to express strong emotions, such as love, hate, surprise, happiness, anger, enthusiasm, disgust, boredom, confusion, or unhappiness. However, this isn't always true. Some interjections can express either a mild emotion, or can be expressions, such as "Excuse me."
A sample list of interjections includes words such as:
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is representative of the types of interjections you may use on a daily basis. For more examples see Examples of Interjections.
Now that you've looked at a list of interjections, let's practice identifying them in these 10 sample sentences:
Yowza! That is a fine looking car.
Hurray! It is a snow day and school is canceled.
It is so exciting, my goodness, I just can't believe it.
Joe was late to school and, yikes, the teacher was mad.
Oh! I can't believe how nice you look.
Well, gee, that sure is a kind thing to say.
Boo! I scared you.
Whoops, I dropped the milk and it spilled.
Yay, it is finally Friday and the work week is over.
Oh well, all good things must come to an end.
Here are the answers to the 10 questions above.
"Yowza" is the interjection here. It is expressing the emotion of being quite impressed with the car.
"Hurray" is the interjection, clearly expressing happiness.
"My goodness" is the interjection here, expressing excitement.
"Yikes" is interjection with the emotion being expressed here.
"Oh," the interjection, acts as a classic interjection as a standalone sentence. It is offset by its exclamation point.
Here, we have two interjections: "well" and "gee." They express a bashful pause, like the speaker is at a loss for words.
"Boo" is the rather obvious (and scary) interjection in this sentence.
"Whoops" is the interjection used to express the error.
"Yay" is another interjection that expresses the emotion of happiness, just as "hurray" did in sentence #2.
"Oh well" is the emotional interjection here, indicating a tinge of resignation.
Interjections aren't recommended in formal or academic writing. Because of their emotive function, there's virtually no place for them in an academic paper designed to convey facts. By definition, facts should be devoid of emotion or opinion.
Interjections can find their way into fictional pieces, most often in the form of dialogue. They can also be used in informal written communication between two people, such as letters or emails. If you've got your eye on short fiction, check out these examples of short stories. Perhaps you'll develop an emotional character that requires an interjection or two.