NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pet Peeve: !?!?!!!

Why does everyone feel the need to exclaim and question with such ferocity? An exclamation point means I’m shouting! Or, at the very least, I’m saying something very strongly! Question marks mean I’m confused. Maybe I’m not very bright.

The other day I walked into the coffee shop and saw a jar on the counter. The note taped to the jar read:

Tips Are Appreciated—THANK YOU!!!!

Guess what? I didn’t leave a nickel.

I don’t need anyone screaming THANK YOU!!!! in my ear. In fact, a sign like that doesn’t need any punctuation at all. It doesn’t even need a smiley face, though I guess I’d prefer that to my eardrums shattering. How much nicer if the sign read:

Tips Are Appreciated—Thanks

Or even:

Thanks for Tipping

Or, God forbid, forget the sign. Just let the blasted jar sit on the counter with a few coins in it. We’d get the idea.

And that’s another thing: Multiple exclamation points (or question marks) are insulting. It looks very much like you’ve had to tie yourself in knots to avoid adding “YOU IDIOT” to the end of your thought. If you e-mail a friend and say:

Got your message. What does it mean???

What you’re really saying is:

You fool, can’t you write a coherent e-mail? I haven’t got time to sift through your garbage. Jeez.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not likely to clarify myself to this clown.

Okay, rant over. Just calm down, okay, everyone??? That’s all I ask!!!


  1. I agree, though I have a slight reservation.
    I appreciate that the correct usage of question mark and exclamation marks is often abused, and it does annoy me when I see it's misuse in most contexts, but we live in a world full of emoticons and 'text-speak' these days, and in certain circumstances, even these have become acceptable to all.
    My own daughters & my son litter their texts, emails and IMs with 'LOL's, 'LMAO's and various smiley face emoticons, but then criticise me because I text in complete and non-abbreviated (unabbreviated?) sentences.
    The one thing I am guilty of in those situations though, is combining question marks and exclamation marks. I've often had to avoid little arguements with friends over something I've texted to them, because they've actually mis-read a 'tone of voice' into what I've texted, so I've learned that anything that can convey mood of expression or emotion within a text can help avoid a falling out.
    If I'm responding to something that has surprised me, I often express both my shock and my puzzlement by appending '?!' or '!?' to the end of a text or email. I know I shouldn't, but it seems to do the job, and does actually aid communication.
    (Incidentally, to illustrate what a sad person I really am, which of the two forms I use depends on whether I'm more shocked than puzzled or vice versa. I actually think about it first. Tragic that, isn't it?)

  2. It's not at all tragic, Dave. It's admirable in a world where too many people just don't care.
    I don't mind the combination ?! or !? when used sparingly. It's the multiples that bother me. (??!!) I half expect something like $*%?!##$!, which represents cursing in newspaper comics.
    Words make pictures for me. They aren't just flat on the page. Every punctuation mark adds to the picture, and too many !!! draws a picture of a raving lunatic.
    Thanks for reading, Dave!