Archive for: ‘December 2010’

Question Mark Usage

December 27, 2010 Posted by admin

The question mark, a staple punctuation mark in English grammar, is responsible for distinguishing questions from statements in written language. In spoken English, a question is marked by a slight inflection of the voice at the end of the question. In writing, however, we rely on the question mark to convey this meaning.

Rules for using question marks are fairly simple; there are few gray areas. The mark is placed after a direct question, such as, “Should I go now?” or “He looks thin, doesn’t he?” They are not placed after indirect questions, such as, “I asked him what was going on,” or “The man wondered what the book was about.” Often, indirect questions are mistaken for direct ones. To ensure that you use the correct punctuation in these cases, ask yourself whether a sentence is stating something that was asked or actually asking something.

Generally it is not grammatically acceptable to use question marks in conjunction with other punctuation marks. There are two exceptions:

1. Question marks after an abbreviation: “Will you get back to me a.s.a.p.?”
2. Exclamation and question mark: “What?!” This use is called an interrobang. It is used in informal written correspondence and written dialogue to convey surprise. An exclamation and question mark are not used together in academic writing.

The picture of a question mark has become iconic. Its image is used by many websites as “Help” section logos. It is used in art to represent confusion, curiosity, searching and rebellion.