Is It Whoa or *Woah? | Meaning, Examples & Spelling

Common Mistakes updated on  December 6, 2023 2 min read
Whoa is an interjection used to express shock or surprise. It was traditionally used to command a horse or person to stop or slow down. Like other interjections, whoa should be avoided in professional communication and academic writing.

The use of the variant spelling woah is more common in UK English than US English, but in both cases, it’s not considered standard. Many dictionaries and other language authorities do not accept this spelling at all.

Examples: Whoa or woah in a sentence
Woah! Are you serious?
Whoa! Are you serious?

Woah, horsey! Slow down!
Whoa, horsey! Slow down!

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How to use whoa in a sentence

Whoa is often used as a cognitive interjection to express amazement, shock, or surprise. It’s often followed by an exclamation mark but may also be followed by a comma.

Examples: Whoa in a sentence (cognitive interjection)
Whoa! That cat made it to the other side of the street just in time!
Whoa! Don't creep up on me like that!
Whoa, I don't think I've ever seen a koala in real life.

Whoa can also be used as a volitive interjection to command a person or horse (or other animal) to stop or slow down.

Examples: Whoa in a sentence (volitive interjection)
Whoa, don't go so fast! I can't keep up!
Whoa, horsey! Calm down, calm down.
Whoa, whoa, whoa, where is that coming from?

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, rhetorical devices, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.

Common mistakes

US vs UK


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Burnt or burned

Situational irony

Lable or label

Dreamed or dreamt


Now a days or nowadays

Kneeled or knelt


Every time or everytime

Smelled or smelt


Alot or a lot

Travelling or traveling


Frequently asked questions about whoa or woah

How do you spell whoa?

Whoa and woah are often confused, but whoa is the correct spelling. It is used as an interjection to express alarm or surprise, or to attract attention. “Woah” is a spelling variant that’s considered wrong by most language authorities.

The QuillBot Grammar Checker will fix this and other common mistakes automatically.

What punctuation mark is most closely associated with interjections?

An interjection is typically followed by an exclamation point. It emphasizes the urgency or intensity of a thought, emotion, or request. An example of an interjection is “whoa!”

You use a comma or period if the expressed emotion is not supposed to come across as intense (e.g., “Oh. I must have missed that.”).

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Julia Merkus

Julia has master's degrees in Linguistics and Language and speech pathology. Her expertise lies in grammar, language and speech disorders, foreign language learning, and child language acquisition.

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