The British government thinks kids these days are overusing exclamation marks, and they’ve decided to take a stand! According to Mashable, the Department of Education has added new grammar guidelines to the state exams that seven-year-old students will be taking this summer, which specifically stipulate the appropriate uses for exclamation marks.
In order to crack down on what they see as the misuse of the punctuation in text messages and on social media, the Department of Education has told educators to deduct points for exclamation marks used outside of two extremely specific scenarios: sentences which begin with “What” or “How.” For instance, “What a lovely day!” is appropriate, while any variation on that sentiment—as in, “It’s a lovely day!”—will now be marked incorrect.
Regarding their new tough stance on exclamation marks, a spokesperson for the Department of Education told Mashable, “A high-quality education in English—and the ability to communicate effectively—is an important part of the government’s commitment to extend opportunity to all.”
There’s already been some backlash against the initiative. Critics have accused the Department of Education of being old-fashioned, stifling children’s creativity, and even preventing the evolution of grammar. “Grammar is always evolving, especially with the interchange of text messages and prose,” Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham told The Sunday Times. “To knock children back for experimenting with punctuation seems absurd."