French exclamations
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Les exclamations

An exclamation is any word or phrase that expresses a strong emotion or feeling. The meaning behind the exclamation may be positive or negative, but either way it’s usually

  • Spoken suddenly and loudly
  • Written with an exclamation point (un point d’exclamation)

Exclamative Adjective

In addition to being an interrogative adjective, quel (and its agreeable feminine/plural forms) is an exclamative adjective, used to emphasize a noun.

Par exemple…

Quelle catastrophe ! What a catastrophe!
Quels bons enfants ! What good children!
Quel courage tu as eu ! What courage you had!

Exclamative Adverbs

An exclamative adverb is a word or phrase that expresses a strong feeling about the clause it precedes.

Par exemple…

Combien il a grandi !   He’s grown so much!
Comme tu es belle !   You’re so beautiful!
Qu’ils sont gentils !   They are so kind!

Exclamative Conjunctions

The exclamative conjunctions mais and que reinforce a response (yes/no), phrase, or statement.

Par exemple…

Mais c’est bizarre !   That’s so crazy!
Que non !   Absolutely not!

Imperative Mood

The imperative is the verb mood used for telling people what to do.

Par exemple…

Arrêtez !   Stop!
Fais tes devoirs !   Do your homework!

 Note that not all uses of the imperative are necessarily exclamations – sometimes the imperative just makes a request or recommendation. See the lesson for details.

Indirect Commands

Since there’s no imperative for the third person, que + subjunctive is used for indirect commands and wishes.

Par exemple…

Qu’elle arrive saine et sauve !   May she arrive safe and sound!
Qu’ils se taisent !   I wish they’d shut up!


Pretty much any word or phrase can be used as an exclamation if spoken emphatically or written with an exclamation point.

Par exemple…

Ouaou !   Wow!
C’est pas vrai !   No way!
Quoi ! Je ne te crois pas !   What! I don’t believe you!

 Related lessons

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French exclamations

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