Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt
If you’ve ever yelled your feelings — you might have uttered an interjection. If you’ve ever shouted a forbidden word after dropping a glass jar of pickles — you might have uttered an interjection. If you’ve ever typed a text followed by 17 exclamation points — you might have written an interjection.
In case you’re wondering what we’re discussing today, it’s interjections. An interjection is what happens when you speak an exclamation. Jeepers!
Often, interjections are short words that pack an emotional punch. Uh-oh! No! These are some of a baby’s first English words, which makes total sense. Often, an interjection is the most efficient way to express a feeling.
Let’s break down interjections into a few categories. First, a primary interjection is a single word that gets used exclusively as an interjection: Yikes! Ouch! Wow! Gosh!
A secondary interjection is an exclamatory word that isn’t used exclusively as an interjection. Examples include “Bless you!” “Good grief!” “Aw, rats!”
Before you think an interjection can only be used with an exclamation point, think again! In fact, an interjection can involve a period, comma or even a question mark. Huh?
Here’s an example of an interjection that uses a period: Darn. I thought my Cinderella team was going to win the entire tournament. This sentence depends on how emphatically the “darn” is uttered. In this case, imagine it is delivered by Eeyore, who never uses exclamation points, but often directs his depressive interjections at his forest friends.
Interjections sometimes come in the form of a question: Are you kidding me? Do you believe we’ve actually been to the moon? Honestly, this type of interjectory sentence is an excellent case of when an interrobang would be perfect, but that’s an entirely different column, now, isn’t it? What’s wrong with me?
In the case of comma-tose interjections, take this example: Well, what did you expect? How did you know I was raised in Canada, eh? Oh, no, the test is today. Ooh, you look great in that beekeeper outfit.
The comma and period examples are kind of like “light” interjections. It seems as though some of the urgency has been diminished.
You don’t have to memorize all the different kinds of interjections, but it is important to distinguish them when your friend Scott brings over some excellent whiskey; after all, there’s a big difference between “Great Scott!” “Great, Scott!” and “Great Scotch, Scott!”