Interjections in English

YAY-2Dear All,
This post discusses interjections in English. It defines an interjection and provides a resource to look up various interjections in English, their variants, and examples.

What is an interjection? The word ‘interjection‘ comes from Lat. ‘intericere’ meaning “to throw between”. According to the Cambridge Dictionary online, interjection is “a word or phrase that is used as a short, sudden expression of emotion” (CDO, 2015). Interjections (such as “hi” and “bye”) can be used to initiate a conversation or to terminate it in a polite way.

Grammatically, the status of interjections is debatable, “as they behave strangely in respect to morphology, syntax, and semantics: they are formally indeclinable, stand outside the syntactic frame, and have no lexical meaning, strictly speaking” (Bussmann, 1998, p. 582). Interjections are often onomatopoeic in nature (i.e. they are formed in imitation of sounds, e.g. ho-ho-ho).

Interjections are often used in face-to-face communication or by writers reproducing or creating resemblance of a conversation. For example:
Helen: Tom, have you brought your umbrella today? It’s raining cats and dogs!
Tom: Oops, I forgot…

Interjections are often used by native speakers of English on a daily basis and therefore are important to get acquianted with by the people who study English as their additional language. It is also a powerful tool of creating verbally colourful and authentic dialogues in writing.

If you are interested in more examples of interjections in English, their forms, verbal translations, examples, and meanings, this Web page may be a good starting point:

Have you ever been in a situation where interjections were very important or confusing? Please write a comment to this post. Thanks!

Cambridge Dictionaries Online (CDO) (2015). Retrieved August 1, 2015 from,
Bussmann, H. (Ed.). (1998). Routledge dictionary of language and linguistics; translated and edited by Gregory Trauth and Kerstin Kazzazi. London: Routledge.

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