"We met at Starbucks. Not at the same Starbucks but we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street from each other." Best in Show
Americans are known for many things; moderation is not one of them. We've got a Starbucks on every corner serving coffees the size of a large child. We drink 44 oz. sodas, and the club sandwich is an American staple: two layers of fillings between three slices of bread.
It is so hard for us to eat a moderate, healthy serving size of pasta or limit ourselves to a few fries that we have resorted to extreme measures: banning carbs. Well, it's not an official ban yet, like Prohibition, but we have attached such a stigma to carbs that people are shamed into ordering hamburgers without buns, drinking Michelob Ultra, and when I was a waitress, a customer actually asked me to substitute the potatoes for a salad because he was "allergic to carbs."
Due to lack of moderation, a stigma has similarly become attached to the exclamation point. We Americans have such a hard time limiting our exclamation point usage to one, even two, per sentence that now you can't read a grammar book's lesson on exclamation points without being warned to avoid overusing them.
So, if you don't trust yourself to moderate your exclamation point use, how do you provide emphasis in your writing?
Well, you can use a dash. It's not an exact substitution. It's more like swapping Hillary's decolletage for Meryl's.
By that, I mean that the dash doesn't provide quite the same level of emphasis, but it does provide some.
Hillary's neckline is low- really low.
The dash emphasizes the words really low.
And, we can also do something with the dash that we can’t do with an exclamation point: we can emphasize something mid-sentence:
Hillary's dress- the one that plunges all the way down to her belly button- seems so unlike her.
In this example, we are emphasizing the one that plunges all the way down to her belly button.
Or, instead of using the dash, you can just be brazen like these young ladies and screw any notion of moderation. Holly Madison went with three exclamation points and all caps:
Kelly went with five o's and nine exclamation points (although, it would have been nice if she sacrificed one of those exclamation points for an apostrophe for Im.)
And check out Audrina: three n's, four h's, three exclamation points- and even a sad face.
Try pronouncing annnd. It's a little hard on the throat.