Is "hello" followed by an exclamation mark or a full-stop? How about "Have a nice day"?

I normally type "Hello!" However, I got corrected to be "Hello." Which punctuation mark should I use?

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    It all depends on the context and it is not restricted just to 'hello'. When it comes to an exclamatory mark, the 'mood' is more important! Aw..I put an exclamatory just now! Ah, one more time! Ah...one more... – Maulik V May 10 '16 at 5:52
  • Both are grammatically correct. Do you want to say "Hello!" to someone or do you want to say "Hello." to someone, you can make that choice every time again. – Kevin May 10 '16 at 7:45
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    I'll note here that "Hello?" is also acceptable, depending on context. When posed as a question, it simply means "Can you hear me?" or "Are you there / Is someone there?" – Seldom 'Where's Monica' Needy May 10 '16 at 8:50

Punctuation is about making your writing more readable and exclamation points are a great way of showing that something was said with emphasis.

The answer to your question is that both are just fine, depending on your intent.

If you mean for "hello" to be read as an exclamation, use an exclamation point.

Hello! It's so good to see you again after so long!

If you mean for "hello" to be read more flatly, use a period.

Hello. This is customer service and we are returning your message.

The same is true if you're adding direct address to it:

Hello George! I've missed you!
Hello, Mr. Sanders. I'm writing to address your questions.

(There's a great answer on ELU about whether to use the comma between "hello" and the person's name here)

If you're using it as a salutation, you could also consider a comma:

This email is in regards to your message from May 7th.

All of the above applies to "Have a nice day" as well, with the exception that the comma would be used in the case of a signature since you wouldn't use it as a salutation.

Have a nice day,

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    That "great answer" misses the reason for the "set off nouns of direct address with commas" rule, which is that English lacks an explicit vocative case. The commas, even when they appear not to add anything to the understanding, do raise the "the following may be vocative" flag, If I see "Hello George!" without the comma, it reads as wrong. – Monty Harder May 9 '16 at 20:23
  • @MontyHarder And the point in that answer is that, to many (including myself), they see the comma as wrong... – Catija May 9 '16 at 20:24
  • Why do I think you likely oppose the Oxford Comma as well? – Monty Harder May 9 '16 at 20:34
  • @MontyHarder Actually, I prefer the Oxford Comma... so... you're wrong there. The reality is, punctuation is highly personal. Some people use commas constantly and others use them rarely... and, really, there is no one governing organization requiring they be used any particular way, and anyone trying to lay down hard and fast rules is overreaching themselves... they simply don't exist... so, as I say in my answer, it's all about what you intend people to intuit... when I say "Hello George", I don't pause... so I see no reason to put a "pause" (comma) in my text there. – Catija May 9 '16 at 20:37
  • Maybe that's the difference. I don't ever say "Hello $Name" without a slight pause to aurally evoke the vocative comma. – Monty Harder May 9 '16 at 20:49

It all depends on the context - who is it that corrected you?

Anyway, I think both "Hello." and "Have a nice day." (with periods) seem kind of passive aggressive for causal communication, and would usually opt for the exclamation mark, although you probably wouldn't start some kind of formal email or message with "Hello!"

On a different note, the punctuation I would probably use most often with those phrases is a comma, since they seem like they'd most likely be used as part of a letter:


Do you know where I can buy shoes?

Have a nice day,


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    How is saying "hello" passive aggressive? o.O – Lightness Races in Orbit May 10 '16 at 11:54
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    Again, all about context, but I feel like "Hello!" is saying it with a smile in a friendly tone, and "Hello." is a flat-faced, unfriendly 'I'm-saying-this-for-convention-not-because-I-want-to-talk-to-you" greeting. If I texted a friend "Hey! blah blah blah" and they responded with "Hello. blah blah blah" I might assume they don't want to talk to me, or are mad at me. – Sarah May 10 '16 at 15:51
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    Either statement with a period I read as coming from a face like this. But as you said, that is just how I perceive things with no context given. YMMV. – Sarah May 10 '16 at 15:57
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    Yeah, you might want to stop making those assumptions and instead assume good faith in people. – Lightness Races in Orbit May 10 '16 at 15:58
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    Maybe our difference in countries can best explain our difference of opinion here then. That study very accurately reflects my experiences as a recent college grad in the US, but maybe the passive aggressive/insincere period does not translate across cultures. – Sarah May 10 '16 at 16:21

To me, "Hello." is more neutral, and "Hello!" is more friendly. In a letter, as Sarah mentions, a comma is common, but an exclamation point is fairly common as well. A period is uncommon as an opening salutation in a letter.

One other wrinkle to this: if someone is answering the phone, or walking into an empty room and asking if someone is there, you will often see it written Hello? as people often raise the pitch at the end of the word in these situations. There's an implied question in both cases: on the phone it's Hello. Who is calling? and in the empty room it's Hello. Is anyone there?

So, whoever "corrected" you is oversimplifying, although perhaps the person was only correcting the way you used it in one place.


In studying Communication during my undergrad years, I have learned that there are 3 intentions to communicating. To Inform, Entertain, or Persuade. Communicating can be done verbally or thru a nonverbal channel. The term "hello" can be used in several contexts. I've found the primary context used to indicate a greeting or responding to one; requesting ones attention. When sung in a song (ex. "Hello" -Adele), it is used to entertain. Content + Context= INTENT.


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    Yes, but which of these cases uses which punctuation mark? – Nathan Tuggy May 10 '16 at 18:09
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    I mean, how about answering the actual question at the top? It's asking about when to use periods and exclamation marks and question marks, not about intent and context and verbal/nonverbal distinctions. – Nathan Tuggy May 10 '16 at 18:15
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    Sure. You're probably correct, but this answer is not useful because it doesn't actually explain the connection. It just sets up some seemingly unrelated assertions and then trails off with some vague implications. – Nathan Tuggy May 10 '16 at 18:26
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    That is a correct statement. It is also a useless one for this question, because there aren't any examples of specific intents that require specific punctuation. In other words, it lacks the explanation needed, and is too simple. – Nathan Tuggy May 10 '16 at 18:39
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    The difference is that the other answers use examples themselves to show when one punctuation option may be preferred over another. When the question does not have sufficient information for a single answer, it is up to the person answering (if they decide to do so) to allow for multiple situations and to write a clear answer. Particularly keeping in mind that this site is geared towards people who are not native speakers of English. – Catija May 10 '16 at 19:23

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