Where to Use Question Marks; Everything You Need to Know about Question Marks

How to use question marks will remain one of the primary worries of every writer and reader because that is one of the punctuation marks that demands something from us. As the word implies, it is a question, and an answer is required. And the right punctuation will tell your reader if the sentence is a question or not.

So, if you are writing, you wouldn’t love to embarrass yourself with articles filled with improper punctuation and placement, whereby your readers get mislead. If you have ever found yourself in this situation, it is alright to feel bad, but your article shouldn’t remain bad after reading this article.

Now that you are ready, here are the things you need to know about question marks and where they are used.

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Do you see the question mark?

  • Question Marks Come after an Inquiry

Since it is a question mark, it accompanies an inquiry.

Example:

  • Where did you keep the jar of molasses?
  • Have you found the keys yet?
  • What will you have for dinner?

Sometimes, the inquiry sentences may not begin with interrogative words like “what, where, and so on to signify a question.

Sentences often take the form of a declarative sentence and still end like an inquiry. Example:

  • Jessica came from Massachusetts just to attend the Thanksgiving dinner? I’m in debt.
  • I wouldn’t be wrong to assume, more rest will improve my productivity, right doctor?

So, a quick and helpful guide is to speak your words aloud, if you can, before writing them. If the sentence is a question, then a question mark should be used to indicate the inquiry. This way, your sentence won’t lose its meaning.

  • You Can Use Them When Making a Statement

Question marks are also used when making a statement similar to the examples above. In this case, you are assuming the situation and not directly an inquiry even when it looks a little tricky. See examples:

  • Just leave the letters on my desk, alright?
  • You missed the flight, did you?
  • We are going to Dublin this Xmas, aren’t we?

Now, looking closely, you will observe that a “comma” comes before the interrogative word. So, when writing statements like this, pay attention to separating the inquiry words with a comma.

  • They Are Used in Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions are other forms of uncertain or surprising questions. (Learn about rhetorical questions)

Examples:

  • Aren’t the pieces of jewelry lovely?
  • Don’t you find these pups adorable?
  • Sometimes a Question Mark Is Used along an Exclamation Mark

In some sentences, you will need more than question marks to drive home your points. When this happens, an exclamation/screamer comes to the rescue (Learn about exclamation marks).

Here are a few examples:

  • Have you heard the news? There are predictions of a lunar eclipse!
  • Did you buy the tickets? The concert is canceled!

So, take note that this is only applicable when the situation is an alarming one, a surprise, or an intriguing situation.

  • For Making a Request

When you are making a mild request, the question mark should come in handy. Examples:

  • Would you please pass me the jar of water?
  • May I please have your pen?
  • Can you please accompany Scott to the movies?

Some Rules for Using Question Marks

  • Never use a period after using a question mark.
  • In a quoted sentence, a question mark comes before the closing quotation mark. Example: “Won’t Molly love Leslie as foretold?”
  • When the sentence comes with a parenthesis, place the question mark inside the parenthesis. Something like: (how many cups of flour are needed?)
  • Remember to italicize the question mark if the sentence is italicized (Using Italic font in writing).
  • Never use a comma after using a question mark in a sentence.

It is always a good idea to have an expert edit your writing!

To Wrap It up

Knowing these tiny bitty details about question marks is important and will also save you from the snare of poor articles. Nothing saps one’s enthusiasm like bad reviews from editors after days, months, years of putting an idea to paper. Thankfully, all those are in the past, and you can start using your question marks properly now, won’t you?

Scientific Editing Blog

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