From Academic Kids

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 generally uninflected function words and have sometimes been seen as sentence-words, since they can replace or be replaced by a whole sentence (they are holophrastic). Sometimes however interjections combine with other words to form sentences.

Interjections are used when the speaker encounters events that cause these emotions — unexpectedly, painfully, surprisingly or in many other sudden ways. But several languages have interjections that cannot be related to emotions.

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




English words used mostly as interjections include ugh, wow, ouch, scat, alas, and eureka.

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. Well can also be used as an interjection, for example when put at the beginning of a sentence. Much profanity (see also expletive) takes the form of interjections.

Some linguists consider yes, no, amen and okay as interjections, since they have no syntactical connection with other words and rather work as sentences themselves.

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.

Expressions "Exscuse me!", "Sorry!", and similar ones often serve as interjections.


Several interjections contain sounds that do not, or very rarely, exist in regular English phonetic inventory. For example (pronunciation shown in IPA):

  • Ahem ("attention!") contains a glottal stop that is common in German.
  • sh ("quiet!") is an entirely consonantal syllable.
  • Ps ("here!"), also spelled psst, is another entirely consonantal syllable-word.
  • Tut-tut ("shame..."), also spelled tsk-tsk, is made up entirely of clicks, which are an active part of regular speech in several African languages. This particular click is alveolar.
    There is also a less popular pronunciation .
  • Ugh ("disgusting!") ends with a German and Gaelic consonant, a velar fricative.
  • Whew ("what a relief!") starts with a bilabial fricative, a sound pronounced with a strong buff of air through the lips. This sound is a part of the native speech of Suki, a language of New Guinea.
  • Ahoy is a sailor's interjection.

Other languages


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

Popular interjections are:

  • Aiya! (哎吼 or 噯呀 ai4ya0): expresses disappointment and displeasure, sometimes accompanied by shock and reproach
  • 嘖嘖 has meaning and pronunciation like its English counterpart tsk-tsk (See #English interjection phonetics). 嘖嘖 is also an onomatopoeia of the chirping of some bird species. It occasionally conformed into the Chinese phonology and pronouced zz (in Pinyin).

Interjection plays an important grammatical role in the Cantonese language, such as the sentence-end -ah! that has numerous meanings.


(in IPA) Common filler pauses:

  • nu - 'well'
  • ve... - /vav haxibur/ the usual Hebrew conjunction word, 'and'
  • em - slight confusion
  • ups
  • oj

Modern Hebrew also has several interjections containing sounds external to regular Hebrew phonetic inventory, mostly [w] in different Exclamations:

  • waj
  • waw
  • wow


  • sh ("quiet!") is the first sound of the word meaning 'quiet!'.

See also

bg:Междуметие de:Interjektion eo:interjekcio fr:Interjection sv:Interjektion


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