Is it inappropriate to use an exclamation mark after a first person plural imperative sentence, such as

Yes, let's stop talking about that!

I am a foreign speaker of English conversing in text online with a friend who is a native speaker. My friend perceives the use of exclamation marks as shouting and feels offended by that. She pointed out the exact phrase quoted above as being offensive due to the exclamation mark.

I am aware that the exclamation mark is used far less in English than in my own native language (in German we use it in many places where English speakers would use a "."), however I remember being taught very long ago in highschool that any phrase starting with "let's" should end with an exclamation mark, to denote that the phrase is a suggestion. It feels wrong to me not to use one in this example.

Your input is appreciated.

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, Drew, Glorfindel, Mari-Lou A, curiousdannii Apr 26 '17 at 1:26

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  • You can use it where you like. Your phrase with one can just be viewed as emphatic. Not rude necessarily. Whoever told you that any sentence with Let's should take an exclamation mark was misguided. – Lambie Apr 23 '17 at 14:46

The exclamation mark is used in English to indicate emotional emphasis or volume (shouting).

It is not used to indicate that something is a suggestion rather than a command or a statement.

To say:

Yes, let's stop talking about that!

is to imply that the speaker is demanding or at least very eager to close that line of the conversation.

By contrast,

Yes, let's stop talking about that.

is to imply that the speaker is acknowledging or suggesting politely that the current subject can be dropped.

  • Then is there any case left in which the use of exclamation marks in written dialogue is appropriate and cannot be misunderstood as being impolite? The above sentence (without punctuation) expresses agreement with a previous sentence made by the other person ("let's drop the topic"). If an exclamation mark added as emphasis has the potential to reverse the positive meaning into something rude, then the consequence would be to not use any exclamation marks whatsoever in written dialogue, to be safe, correct? – Dennis B. Apr 23 '17 at 13:44
  • @DennisB. This is a philosophical question. It's true that written communication is not as certain as face to face verbal communication, because it lacks intonation and body language. Therefore there is room for miscommunication it written communication. You have to decide if that means that it's better as a matter of policy to not try to communicate in written form because it could be misconstrued by the reader. For me, I've found that you have to be more careful in writing an email, for example, than when giving a message face to face. – Joel Brown Apr 23 '17 at 14:21

In an online chat, shouting is conventionally conveyed by use of full capitalization, e.g.


Typing in all caps is Internet code for shouting, and it is rude.


An exclamation mark simply means you are making an exclamation:

An exclamation (also called an interjection):

Is a word or phrase that expresses strong emotion, such as surprise, pleasure, or anger. Exclamations often stand on their own, and in writing they are usually followed by an exclamation mark rather than a full stop:

How wonderful!

Ow! That hurt!

Exclamations are also used to express greetings or congratulations:


Well done, lads!

(Oxford - Grammar)

An exclamation would usually involve a changed pitch verbally, but not necessarily mean that you were shouting.

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