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If someone (for example, John) retweets my tweet, should I add the exclamation mark in my reply? Which of the following options is correct:

  1. Thank you for the RT, John!

  2. Thank you for the RT, John.

I have noticed that the exclamation mark is not always used by native English speakers.

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There's certainly no "rule" saying you should always add the exclamation mark. Bear in mind that if you do slavishly follow that rule, people may eventually notice. In which case you'll have thrown away an easy mechanism for emphasising your thanks when you're really grateful! (I did choose to add that one, and the one coming up soon, but that was/is/will be just to make my point more strongly!). –  FumbleFingers Sep 5 '11 at 22:17
Thank you for your reply, @FumbleFingers! I guess that I should not use the exclamation mark in my reply to John. –  seeeker Sep 5 '11 at 22:38
The point is: use it if you want to emphasize, if not, don't use it. –  Alenanno Sep 5 '11 at 22:42
I would tend not to use it much in online thanks. It's a little bit like WRITING EVERYTHING IN CAPITALS! Or bold text, which I'm sure I do here more often than some would like (or smileys! :) –  FumbleFingers Sep 5 '11 at 22:49
Thank you for your suggestion, @Alenanno. –  seeeker Sep 5 '11 at 23:01

5 Answers 5

The answer is no. Grammatically no and actually no.

Grammatitically, exclamation are to be used to exclaim a point. And in the above quote, the sentence doesn't seem exclaimed. Usually when something is exclaimed the speaker's pitch rises at the end of the sentence.

Actually, native English speaker rarely (nearly never) use exclamation marks. Usually, exclaimed sentences are short like "Thank you!" or "Help!".

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I don't know if I completely agree with the claim that native speakers rarely use them. Perhaps in formal context, but informal texts/statuses/tweets etc. have plenty, from my experience. I really like your point about matching pitch though. I wouldn't use an exclamation mark in the OP's example because it seems like the "John" part is the bit being exclaimed. Meanwhile "Thanks for the RT!" looks natural enough for me. (Although I also shortened the "thank you".) –  tdhsmith Sep 6 '11 at 1:54
You're right, informally exclaimations are overused. I try to avoid the informal, otherwise we'll all be talking like this "thx 4 da rt @John!!1!1 :b" –  Coomie Sep 6 '11 at 1:59
I'm going to google spurious and get back to you –  Coomie Sep 6 '11 at 3:27
Compared to full stops, commas and question marks, exclaimation marks are rarely used. They're almost never correctly used. –  Coomie Sep 6 '11 at 3:28

Exclamation marks should be used extremely rarely, unless you want to sound like Smash Hits!

In fact, according to the Guardian style guide:

exclamation marks
Do not use! (As Scott Fitzgerald said, it is like laughing at your own jokes)

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I thought I'd explain my point in an answer. Grammatically speaking, it's not wrong to use an exclamation mark, and in this case, I think it's a matter of style, communication and personal choice.

Style: Using an exclamation mark means you're emphasizing what you just said, and this is easily achievable putting it where you need it, but what about formal writing? I suggest not to abuse, or better... I'd suggest not to use exclamation marks at all in formal writing. There are better and less invading ways to express the same thing using a formal style. It's not your case since Tweeter is not really a platform where you write "formally", but I wanted to cover all points.

Communication: If there is no style matter, i.e. it's an informal writing, then the question would be: what do you want to communicate? Like I said in my comment, the point is: if you want to emphasize what you just said, use the exclamation mark, if not, don't. Although it's informal, still try to avoid abusing it, because the more you use them, the less effective they might appear, not to mention you'd be risking to just annoy the reader.

Personal choice: In the end it's you who decides whether to use an exclamation mark or not, but keep in mind that a language has rules, any language, and not only for grammar, but also relating to communication and meta-communication. If you follow those rules, you'll be fine.

TL;DR: No, you don't have to always use it, it's not a requirement in most cases. Then, it depends on the situation, sometimes you can use it, other times you must not use it.

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Exclamation points/marks are used for emphasis. So, depending on your context, you could/won't use an exclamation point/mark:

Exclamation points were originally called the “note of admiration.” They are still, to this day, used to express excitement. They are also used to express surprise, astonishment, or any other such strong emotion. Any exclamatory sentence can be properly followed by an exclamation mark, to add additional emphasis

So, if John's RT made you really excited (because being quoted is always nice), and you really, really liked it, you might add an exclamation point. However, if John's RT didn't really mean much, but you wanted to show your gratitude anyway, writing it without an exclamation point would be more appropriate.

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As a native English speaker whenever I receive an email with Thanks! At the end it reads in my head as a condescending or cynical expression of thanks.

I much prefer to see the use of the word Thanks ended with a full stop or nothing at all. In fact it seems more natural when reading it without one as I don't interpret the thanks as rising in pitch for any reason at all and thus not a cynical "Thanks!".

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