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What Are the Different Types of Interjection?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier

Interjections are a common component of the English language, though they may be found in other languages as well. These parts of speech generally consist of brief, often spontaneous phrases or utterances. In English, types of interjection typically occur in the following classifications: strong emotional expressions, onomatopoeia, conversational additives, and expressions indicating a pause. Emotion-based types of interjection may range from expressions of pain to surprised expressions.

An interjection is usually characterized by its brevity and its use of punctuation. Many interjections may consist of only one word. Strong punctuation marks like the exclamation point often accompany an interjection as well. If a word or phrase proves confusing when given a lack of context, it is likely an interjection. Since interjections tend to be more commonplace in English, all subsequent types of interjection examples will be from the English language.

Some words may serve the purpose of vocalizing a sound, such as a sneeze bearing the moniker of "Achoo!"
Some words may serve the purpose of vocalizing a sound, such as a sneeze bearing the moniker of "Achoo!"

Linguistic expressions of emotion are perhaps the most common of the types of interjection. When an individual experiences a strong emotion, a sudden verbal exclamation often accompanies and symbolizes this feeling. For example, if an individual cuts a body part, he or she may say “Ow!” or “Ouch!” Likewise, if an individual receives good news, joy might be expressed with a simple exclamation like “Yes!” or “Hooray!” Other common emotional expressions that use interjections include surprise and disgust: "Wow!" and "Ugh," respectively.

Some types of interjections are a matter of common conversational cues and behavioral responses. Two people might, for example, greet each other with a “Hello.” Individuals might likewise respond to each others’ statements with simple word or phrase additions like “Okay” or “Yes” or “No” in response to a question. If an offending comment or action occurs, the offender might say “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me.” A hope to gain some type of favor, on the other hand, might be enhanced with a well-placed interjection of “Please.”

Sounds or letter combinations that do not express an actual word or that otherwise break traditional English grammar rules constitute types of interjections as well. Usually, these interjections are used in speech to fill gaps in conversation or formal speaking. Examples in English range from “Umm” to “Ahem.” Interjections may also sometimes be used to encourage the speech of another person, such as when one individual mutters "Mm-hmm" when a dialogue partner falls silent.

In addition to spoken interjections, literary devices may also function as types of interjection. In particular, some words or phrases may serve the express purpose of vocalizing a sound. For example, the sound of laughter might be textually expressed as “Ha!” A sneeze might bear the moniker of “Achoo!” Growls, meanwhile, might be expressed with a “Grr!” These expressions are often dubbed as onomatopoeias.

Discussion Comments


@Melonlity-- I agree with you. Unnecessary exclamation marks bother me too.

But what bothers me more is when people say "Umm" too often. I know people who say "Umm" about four times in each sentence. We all think as we speak and sometimes we have to take a second to gather our thoughts. But it's not necessary to say "Umm" between each word. It has almost become a trend now but it's unfortunate because it's overdone. Frequent use of this interjection leaves a bad impression on others.


@serenesurface-- I think "what?" is in the same category as "yes," "no," and "sorry." It's a response and also a cue. It tells the other person that they are surprised by what they said. It also gives a cue that an explanation is needed.

We use these types of interjections so often in daily speech, but we usually don't know that we are making an interjection. It comes very naturally and it expresses our emotion. Of course, the way the interjection is pronounced and the loudness of our voice makes a difference too.


I think that "what?!" is a very common interjection. Which type of interjection can "what?!" be categorized as? Does anyone know?


@Melonlity -- you are technically correct, but people sending messages back and forth on the Internet or in texts are in an incredibly informal environment. If they want to run around excited all the time, what of it?

Now, if I saw a bunch of exclamation points in my favorite newspaper in the morning I would wonder about the quality of journalism that gave rise to all that.


A good thumb of rule to use when writing is to reserve exclamation points for only interjections. People tend to fling exclamation points everywhere and it dilutes the reason those exist (to point out a strong emotion or exclamation, remember?)

By overusing exclamation points you wind up with things like:

I ate breakfast this morning! It was great! I then went outside and mowed my lawn! Fun!

No sentence above deserved an exclamation point. But hunt around the Internet and you'll find someone who writes just like that. The poor exclamation point has been beaten to a pulp in the modern age.

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    • Some words may serve the purpose of vocalizing a sound, such as a sneeze bearing the moniker of "Achoo!"
      By: Monkey Business
      Some words may serve the purpose of vocalizing a sound, such as a sneeze bearing the moniker of "Achoo!"