Exclamation marks exclaim! They SHOUT! They YELL! They SCREAM! So use them sparingly.
End the sentence with an exclamation mark when the speaker needs to display strong emotion, excitement, or emphasis.
- Don’t do that!
- Don’t hit him!
- That test was nearly impossible!
- Stop that!
- I could never do that again, nor would I want to!
When the words spoken convey strong emotion, excitement, or emphasis, but the sentence itself does not, the exclamation mark goes inside the closing quotation mark.
Whether or not the exclamation is at the end of the sentence, no other punctuation follows it, even when something like a comma would normally be used.
- They don’t ever remember scolding him, “You can’t do that!”
- The game ended when the umpire shouted, “Strike three!”
- Half the crowd roared, “We won!” but the other half filed out silently.
- No comma after “We won!”
- The passenger yelled, “Stop! Now!” just before the car hit the tree.
- No comma after “Now!”
The key is to determine which is the actual exclamation.
- They were so excited when they heard the announcement, “The Dodgers lost”!
- I couldn’t believe it when he told me, “Here’s your shovel”!
- I’ve told you a thousand times, “I don’t like peas”!
- My child spoke her first word today! She said, “Mommy”!
- I can’t believe that he can’t pronounce “aluminum”!
For readability, it is acceptable to put a space between a final single quotation mark and a closing double mark.
- Their mother yelled at them, “Clean up that mess! Right now!”
- She was absolutely terrified when the ghost shouted, “Boo!”
- Even the teacher was shouting, “School’s out!”
- How many times have you heard this: “I’ve told you a thousand times, ‘Turn right here!’ ”
- A space between the closing quotation marks makes the quotation marks more obvious.
- “Quit yelling, ‘Stop!’ ”
- A space separates the single quotation mark from the double.