An interjection is a word that does not carry any grammatical meaning, but merely expresses a reaction of some kind. Adding an interjection to a phrase does not alter the meaning of the phrase, nor does removing an interjection from a phrase.
Words such as oh, uh, wow, and yikes are interjections.
When to Use Interjections
Interjections in formal writing
To start, it should be noted that interjections should be completely avoided in formal writing, except for in dialogue.
For example, you should not write:
“Wow, I can’t believe how gorgeous it is!” in a formal piece.
However, it could be acceptable to write:
“When I saw how gorgeous it was, my reaction was to simply say, ‘Wow!'”
Using interjections for impact
In pieces of writing where it can be acceptable to use interjections, they should be used sparingly, as the emotional reaction they are meant to convey can be greatly diminished if they are overused. They should be used in spots where the author really wants the reader to understand the author’s reaction.
For example, if someone wrote a quick blurb about a diet plan of which she is skeptical, and she wants to fully express her skepticism, she might use the interjection, hmm, as follows:
“The creators of the diet claim that you can lose fifty pounds in one month. Hmm, I’m not too sure about that.”
Notice how the author’s doubt is not quite as strong without the interjection:
“The creators of the diet claim that you can lose fifty pounds in one month. I’m not too sure about that.”
If there is no change in impact with an interjection inserted, it is a good idea to simply refrain from using the interjection.
Jake Magnum, author of the Magnum Proofreading Blog, is dedicated to helping writers perfect their work. In addition to giving free advice on his blog, Jake helps writers by offering very affordable proofreading services at magnumproofreading.com.