Today’s lesson is about the English grammar of exclamations, and the language used in expressing emotions. The grammar of exclamations can get complicated because there are different kinds of exclamations, each with specific rules on how to use them. In this lesson, you will learn specific exclamations to talk about how you feel in response to hearing some news someone has just told you. To keep you on your toes, we have
a quiz at the end of the podcast where you can practice what you’ve learned.
Whenever I hear the word ‘Exclamation’, I think of something that is exciting, happy or sad. The general idea behind an exclamation is to express your emotions in reaction to an event or news. Although it’s easy in today’s use of English online to slip into acronyms like LOL! or even swearing to express your emotions, we won’t be doing that in our lesson. In this lesson, we give you a range of exclamations which you can use to safely express your feelings, appropriate for any English conversation.
Enjoy today’s podcast and make sure you practice what you’ve learned by repeat listening to the lesson. You don’t have to listen to the same podcast over and over, although you could. It’s best to listen to a lesson, then maybe the next day listen again. If you feel you’ve remembered most of what you’ve heard, then come back and listen to the lesson again in a week. We call this type of learning spaced repetition learning. You can do this will multiple podcast lessons at the same time. So when you are not repeat listening to one, you can repeat listen to another.
We know that this type of spaced repetition learning encourages our brains to take notice of what we are trying to learn and improves the likelihood of this type of information being stored in our longer term memory. Which is exactly what we want for language learning, which needs automatic recall from long-term language memory.
I’m often asked, “How many times do I need to listen?” well it’s always going to be different for every language learner. That said, I would recommend that you need to hear the word or phrase you are listening to a minimum of 20 times spaced out over time. So, for example, let’s say a phrase “What a disaster!” appears 5 times in a lesson. To hear it 20 times, you will need to listen to the lesson 4 times spread out over approximately 10 days.
Remember, it’s not an exact science, so don’t get stuck on the statistics. Just plan for some repeat listening and aim to listen to key phrases, pronunciations, vocabulary etc. a minimum of 20 times.
Exclamation Exclaim Disaster Swear Enormous Shock Disappointment Honour Pain Shame Luck Repetition
Hi there and welcome to this podcast from Adept English. Today we’re going to practise a bit of English grammar that you’ll hear and use in English conversation and in everyday English. It’s short, it’s not complicated, but it’s worth knowing about and it’s ‘exclamations’!
So if you know anything about punctuation in English, you’ll know the ‘exclamation mark’. That’s the one which looks like this - ! (You’ll have to look in the transcript to see that). But it’s a vertical line, with a dot underneath – and it’s used in written English to show surprise, shock or that something is intended to be humorous, funny.
If you take this word, ‘exclamation’, EXCLAMATION – an ‘exclamation’ is the noise you make, or the thing you say, when you’re surprised, shocked, frightened, angry – and when you’re being funny. The verb to go with it is ‘to exclaim’, EXCLAIM. Now the verb ‘to exclaim’ isn’t one that you’ll use much in spoken English.
It’s quite formal and you’re much more likely to see it in written English. ‘ “Oh my goodness, is that the time?” she exclaimed.’ might be an example – in a book, or something.
But we do make exclamations all the time in spoken English. And very often what we actually say, the actual words are quite short. Often an exclamation might be something like ‘What a shock!’, ‘What a surprise!’ or even ‘What a nice surprise!’ or ‘What a nasty surprise!’
You can ‘exclaim’ in lots of different ways – you can swear if you want to – that’s SWEAR and that means you use rude or blasphemous words. But I’m not going to do that here. Instead I’ll give you a range of exclamations, which you might hear and which you can use safely to express your feelings. ‘Safely’ means you’re not going to offend anybody with these.
So these ones will all start with the words ‘What a….’ or just ‘What…!’ some of them, so that it’s easy to remember. And then we’ll do some practice sentences at the end.
So the rules for this exclamation, this type of expression?
Well, you can use ‘What…!’ with a singular or a countable noun (and you might add an adjective in too)
- What a lovely surprise!
- What a beautiful day!
- What an enormous house!
And if you use this ‘What a…’ expression with an uncountable noun or a plural, it sounds like this:-
- What superb gravy!
- What lovely flowers!
- Uh - what idiots!
And if you use these with a verb, it sounds like this – notice the word order!
- What an enormous house you have!
- What a lovely surprise this is!
- Uh - what idiots they are!
So some these expressions refer to objects that you might be looking at – like the flowers, the idiots or the house. But we also use this way of exclaiming to show our emotions, to show the effect on us of what we’re experiencing. So an example of this is when we’re saying ‘What a surprise!’.
It means ‘This thing that I’ve just heard or seen or found out about – it has surprised me. I didn’t expect it. It’s had the effect of making me surprised.’ ‘What a surprise!’ So let’s focus on these ones, let’s cover some really commonly used ones here.
Before we go any further, don’t forget you can buy our Most Common Five Hundred Words in English course online and start working on it straight away. There are a huge number of words in the English language, but if you’re interested in being able to speak English and have an English conversation, you’ll find that you can say a lot with just a few hundred words – it’s a good way to start speaking.
It makes sense then to know them really well – so that you can start to speak English, not just understand it. So you’ll find the Most Common Five Hundred Words Course on our website at adeptenglish.com. And there’s bonus material in this course too – there’s also the Most Commonly Used Six Hundred Words. Back to our topic for today – of exclamations using ‘What...!’
Reactions of shock, disappointment, feeling sympathy, feeling honoured, feeling ‘put out’, lucky or unlucky
So we might say ‘Ooh, what a shock!’ So the word ‘shock’, SHOCK is used when something is so surprising that it’s like a jolt of electricity to our emotions. This is meant idiomatically, speaking about your emotions, but we do use this word ‘shock’ when we get an electric shock too! You might hear ‘What a shock when I heard the news that he had been sacked’. And the expression ‘to be sacked’? Have a look at last week’s podcast to find out about that one!
Another one? ‘What a disappointment!’ So that’s DISAPPOINTMENT and there’s also a verb ‘to disappoint’ and we used ‘disappointed’ as an adjective. If you experience ‘disappointment’, it means that you’re expecting something pleasant or positive, and either it doesn’t happen, or it’s not as good or as positive as you thought it would be. Or sometimes if another person has let you down, you might say you are ‘disappointed in them’. So you might spend three hours watching a film, watching a movie and you come out of the cinema and you say ‘What a disappointment!’.
‘What a shame!’ ‘Shame’, SHAME is a noun and it means that feeling we get when we are very, very, very embarrassed about ourselves – something we’ve done or something we are, that we really don’t want others to know about or to see. But if we say ‘What a shame!’ it has a slightly different meaning. It means ‘How sad that that happened’. And depending upon how you say it, it can show that you ‘feel sorry’ for the person you’re speaking about. You feel sympathy for their situation. ‘What a shame that he was ill and missed the concert!’ for example.
Another? ‘What an honour!’. That’s HONOUR, if you’re speaking in the UK or in the US, HONOR. If something is an honour, it means that it’s something you’re proud to do. ‘What an honour it is to give a speech at your wedding!’
‘What a pain!’ So a ‘pain’, PAIN – a ‘pain’ is what you have when something hurts you – it could be physical pain. You’ll have lots of pain perhaps, with a broken finger. Or pain can mean emotional hurt. But when we say ‘What a pain!’ we mean something slightly different, usually that something is more effort, more work, more of an issue than we’d expected. We’re going to have to put in more effort to solve it, to sort it out. ‘What a pain! I thought my passport application would go straight through, but apparently there’s a problem with it’.
She Is Pregnant! How To Express Your Joy Using The English Grammar Of Exclamations Ep 487 Article Image
A photograph of an amazing wedding location. Happy, excited, disagreeable? Let’s learn all about exclamations! in this English grammar lesson.
‘What luck!’ or ‘What good luck!’ If you use the expression ‘What luck!’ it means ‘good luck’. So we might say this in a situation where it could go well or go badly – but it’s gone well. “What luck! We found a parking space straight away!’
And ‘What bad luck!’ So LUCK again - we are talking about chance, things you can’t control, but which might affect your day. ‘What bad luck that they had a rainy day for their wedding!’
OK. So those are some phrases for you – how to show your reaction using ‘What….!’ as an exclamation, to show your feelings.
How about I give you some scenarios, some little examples – and you have to decide which is the most appropriate exclamation to give. So you have the choice of the ones we’ve just covered, which were:-
- What a shock!
- What a disappointment!
- What a shame!
- What an honour!
- What a pain!
- What luck!
- What bad luck!
So in no particular order – see if you can reply to me, with an appropriate exclamation. Answers are in the transcript – and you go to our website at adeptenglish.com to find these. Here goes – so you give me the reaction that’s most appropriate.
- When we got to the station, we found that all the trains to London were cancelled. (What bad luck! Or ‘What a pain!’)
- She was ill on her 90th birthday. (What a shame!)
- When we checked in at the airport, they upgraded us to business class. (What luck!)
- She asked me to be the godmother to her baby son. (What an honour!)
- When we went skiing, there wasn’t as much snow as we’d been told there would be. (What a disappointment!)
- When I got home I found the new dress didn’t fit, so I’ve got to take it back to the shop (What a pain! Or ‘What bad luck!’)
- I’ve just learned that my friend is in hospital after a bad fall. I only saw her this morning! (What a shock!)
OK, how did you get on with those? And don’t forget to look up the answers. Listen to this podcast a number of times until you can understand all of it and remember those exclamations! See if you can use them.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.