Grammar Greatness: do you have a question, Mark, about the Question Mark?

October 14, 2019 | By | Reply More

The Question Mark does what it says on the tin, and adds a hint of mystery to the end of a direct question in a sentence.

It can be used to ask for confirmation and suggest uncertainty in a sentence.

Examples.

  • Why do you always choose chips and never a salad, Bob?
  • I’m the most handsome man in this room, am I not?
  • You didn’t have your homework eaten by your pet alligator, did you?
  • How much does this new iPhone 33 model cost, please? Is it very expensive? Is it made of plastic?

Exceptions to the rule.

The Question Mark should not be used with indirect writing and reported speech (when you’re reporting third-hand someone else asking a question).

  • So, this is an incorrect use of the Question Mark.  My brother asked how much does the new iPhone 33 model cost? Then, the fool asked if it’s made of plastic?
  • And this is correct indirect writing: My brother asked how much does the new iPhone 33 model cost. Then, the fool asked if it’s made of plastic.

Problems.

The Question Mark has it’s own Full Stop baked into it, so you don’t need to add an extra Full Stop after a Question Mark.

  • So, this is an incorrect use of a Full Stop with the Question Mark. Why do you always choose chips and never a salad, Bob?.
  • And this is correct use, without an extra Full Stop. Why do you always choose chips and never a salad, Bob?

Category: Wizard of Words

About the Author ()

I have been working as a full-time author publishing fantasy and science fiction novels for HarperCollins for the last seven years.

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