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An interjection, sometimes called a filled pause, is a part of speech that usually has no grammatical connection to the rest of the sentence and simply expresses emotion on the part of the speaker, although most interjections have clear definitions. Interjections are uninflected function words that express the attitude or emotion of the speaker. They are used when the speaker encounters events that cause these emotions -- unexpectedly, painfully, surprisingly or in many other sudden ways.

The word "interjection" literally means "something thrown in between" from the Latin inter ("between") and jacer ("throw").


Examples in English include ugh, wow, ouch, scat, alas. Conventions like Hello and Goodbye are also interjections, as are exclamations like Cheers! and Hurray!. In fact, very often they are characterized by exclamation marks depending on the stress of the attitude or the force of the emotion they are expressing. At the beginning of a sentence, Well is an interjection. Much profanity takes the form of interjections (and many other parts of speech). See also expletive.

Interjections can be phrases or even sentences as well as words:

As I entered the room -- Oh, my God! What I saw! -- he was still standing there.


Several interjections contains sounds that do not, or very rarely, exist in regular English phonetic inventory. For example,

  • Ahem [@?@m] ("attention!") contains a glottal stop, commonly used in German.
  • Sh [S] ("quiet!") is an entirely consonantal syllable, non-existent anywhere else in English.
  • Ps [ps] ("here!") is another entirely consonantal syllable-word.
  • Tsk-tsk [ʇʇ] ("shame..."), also spelled tut-tut, is made up entirely of clicks[?], which is an active part of regular speech in several African languages. This particular click is alveolar.
    There is also a less popular variant [tVt tVt].
    Written 嘖嘖, this interjection is in Chinese as one of disapproval as well. 嘖嘖 is also an onomatopoeia of the chirping of some bird species.
  • Ugh [Vx] ("disgusting!") ends with a German and Gaelic consonant, a velar fricative.
  • Whew [P\Iu] ("what a relief!") starts with a bilabial[?] fricative, a sound pronounced with a strong buff of air thru the lips. This sound is a part of the native speech of Suki, a language on New Guinea.

Other languages

Almost all Chinese interjections are written with the radicals "mouth" (口) on the left. And the right part is purely phonetic. An exception is eh!.

Very popular interjections are:

  • Aiya! (哎呀 or 噯呀 ai4ya0)
    • It has spread to the TV series Firefly.

Interjection plays an important grammatical role in the Cantonese language.

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