What Are Question Marks? (Punctuation Lesson)


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What Are Question Marks? (Punctuation Lesson)

A question mark is used to indicate the end of a question. For example:

Question Marks to Show Inflection

Occasionally, in informal writing, a question mark can be used to turn a statement into a question. The question mark tells the reader to add question inflection to the sentence. For example: Question marks are also used for statements transformed into questions by inflected words or question tags at the end. For example:

Inflected Words Question Tags Read more about questions (interrogative sentences).

Using (?) For Uncertainty

Sometimes, in informal writing, a question mark in brackets is used to express uncertainty. For example: Note: Using (?) is lazy. Avoid it in formal documents.

Be Mindful of Indirect Questions

An indirect question is a question embedded inside a statement (i.e., a declarative sentence) or another question (i.e., an interrogative sentence).

Do not use a question mark when an indirect is embedded within a statement. For example:

A Polite Request Dressed Up As a Question

Often, a polite request comes in the form a question. There is a lot of leniency on whether such a sentence is ended with a question mark or a full stop / period. For example:

Be Mindful of Questions That Look Like Statements

Sometimes, a question feels like a statement. Be sure to use a question mark for a question. For example:

Question Marks in Quotations

When used with quotation marks, a question mark follows logic. In other words, it will be inside the quotation if the quotation is a question, but it will be outside if the whole sentence is a question. For example: Here is a real example: Read more punctuation inside or outside quotation marks.

The Inverted Question Mark

In Spanish, a question is introduced with an inverted question mark. For example:

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See Also

What is an indirect question? What is a declarative sentence? What is an interrogative sentence? What is an imperative sentence? Glossary of grammatical terms