In this lesson, you can learn about how to use interjections in English. What are interjections? Let me explain.
What would you say if I told you my cat had died? How about if I told you I’d won the lottery? What would you say?
Perhaps you’d say something like Oh no! or Oh my god! These short phrases are called interjections and we often use them in English. In this lesson, we’ll look at how to use interjections to react to different situations. You’ll learn how to use them and how you can use them to sound more natural in English.
Interjections are actually very easy; they’re words or phrases that expresses your emotions or feelings.
So, an interjection can stand by itself. For example:
Or, they can be placed at the beginning of a sentence, like this:
Wow, that’s great!
They can go at the end, too, like this:
That’s great, wow!
In longer sentences, you can even put the interjection right in the middle:
That’s great, wow, you did so well on your exams!
We mostly use interjections in speech, not in written language. When you use an interjection, you should pause before and/or after the interjection.
That’s great wow you did so well on your exams!
That’s great, wow, you did so well on your exams!
A lot of interjections are used to show strong emotions, whether positive or negative, for example, love, hate, surprise, boredom, anger and many more.
For this reason, your intonation when you use interjections is very important. You need to use intonation to express the emotion.
Listen to these sentences:
You passed your exam, great.
Oh no, what terrible news.
Just using the words like great or oh no isn’t enough. You need to put the right emotion into your voice, like this:
You passed your exam, great!
Oh no, what terrible news!
Not all interjections express strong emotions. Some, like excuse me or mmm-hmm, don’t express strong feelings and so don’t need very emotional intonation.
So, let’s see how you can use interjections when you’re speaking English.
2. How and Why to use Interjections
Interjections are more informal and are mostly used in conversations.
For example, imagine you’re having a conversation with your friend, and he’s telling you about an interesting night out that he had.
You need to show that you’re listening and that you follow what your friend is saying. You shouldn’t just sit there in silence while the other person speaks. This can make you seem unfriendly, or that you aren’t interested in what your friend is saying.
Typical conversations are more than just taking turns.
So, maybe it would go something like this:
Michael:I just had the most amazing night out!
Mia:Ooh, what happened?
Michael:Well, first we went into London.
Michael:We were eating at this expensive restaurant and having a good time.
Michael:And then we saw Leonardo Dicaprio!
Mia:Oh my god!
Michael:He was at the table right next to us and came over to say hi!
Mia:Wow, that’s amazing!
You can see how the use of interjections shows that you’re interested in what your friend is telling you, as well as encouraging the conversation to flow naturally.
There aren’t any uncomfortable gaps or silences, and everything sounds more fluid.
This is the most common way to use interjections: you use them to keep a conversation going and show the other person that you’re listening and following what they’re saying to you.
Imagine that you’re on the phone to your mum. You phone her every week and she’s just telling you about her day. She hasn’t had a very interesting day.
But, you still want to let her know that you’re paying attention and listening to her! If you’re silent, she might think you’ve fallen asleep or are bored.
So while she’s telling you about how she went to the supermarket, then what she ate for lunch, and so on, you can use these interjections:
For example, if she tells you:
I made this really nice salad for lunch.
You could say:
Next, she starts telling you that you should think about getting married. You don’t want to have that conversation, but you have to say something. What can you do? Use interjections, of course!
Imagine that your mum says:
Don’t you think you’re old enough to settle down? You’re not getting any younger, you know!
You can say:
Oh, sure. Anyway, what are you doing tomorrow?
Of course, of course. We’ll talk about that another time.
So, you can use interjections to keep a conversation going, and also to avoid talking about something you don’t want to discuss!
You’ll see this point a lot in this lesson. Interjections are very flexible. Using them in different situations or with different intonation can have very different meanings.
Okay, but how else can you use interjections? Let’s look at some other words and phrases you can use in many different situations.
3. Positive Interjections
Firstly, let’s have a look at some examples of interjections you can use in positive situations. For example, if you hear some good news or a friend has something exciting to tell you, you might use an interjection to express happiness or other positive feelings.