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In 2010 when I put ‘The Punctuation Show’ together, I researched from books on the topic from Penguin, Collins, Cambridge, Oxford and many others.  There were some differences as you’d expect from different publishers.  One thing that most seemed to agree on was the exclamation mark.

As with the question mark, the exclamation mark is a type of full stop in that it can end sentences.  When I first learned about exclamations and exclamation marks, the rule was you could turn a statement into an exclamation with a change in tone of voice (in the way I described with question marks) or by simply adding an exclamation mark to the end of the sentence.  This would have made sense and would have been easier to teach and understand.

Enter the new curriculum.

As a GPS test marker, I can confirm that, certainly under Pearson, the exclamation sentence type must start with ‘how’ or ‘what’ and should always contain a verb.  I can see the merit in ensuring that a sentence should contain a verb, but to have an exclamation starting with a questioning word?  How silly that is! (See what I did there.)

Many teachers began teaching exclamations by using the quote from Red Riding Hood - ‘What big eyes you have!”

We are still free to add an exclamation marks as we see fit, but unless they fit the above criteria, they should be referred to as ‘exclamatory phrases’.

To add to the confusion, exclamation marks are probably most commonly used with commands.  Great fun can be had asking pupils to think of one word sentences using only an imperative verb and an exclamation mark.  Reading or saying these allowed can be very useful in illustrating the effect of the exclamation mark.  

Exclamation marks can also be used to suggest that someone has raised their voice or is shouting.  Capital letters are also used to represent this.

The best way to approach the exclamation mark is through the expression of emotion.  Have some fun and encourage reading out loud with your pupils.

The exclamation mark is covered in the KS1 Show.

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