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Grammatical Function of English Interjections

Traditional grammars notionally define interjections as words that “express pain, surprise, anger, pleasure, or some other emotion or sentiment.” Interjections perform only one grammatical function in English grammar: interjector.

Interjections as Interjectors

The only grammatical function that interjections perform is the interjector. An interjector is a word or phrase that express an emotion or sentiment on the part of the speaker. For example, the following italicized interjections function as interjectors:

  • Wow! I won the lottery!
  • No, you should not have sold the old pottery.
  • Arg, I forgot my laptop again.
  • Sweet! I won another giveaway!
  • I, um, failed to send in the bill on time.
  • Will you answer the phone please?!

Unlike the other grammatical functions of the English language, interjectors are not constituents of the subject or the predicate. Interjectors are also not grammatically-related to any other part of the sentence. Although interjections most frequently function as interjectors, almost any other word that conveys an emotion and is not a constituent of the rest of the clause can function as an interjector.

Interjections are words and phrases that express an emotion or sentiment on the part of the speaker and that function outside the grammatical structure of the rest of the clause.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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