Question Marks

Question marks end all direct questions. This includes incomplete questions and statements intended as questions.

Direct Question: What is your name?

Incomplete Question: Really? When? No kidding?

Statement Intended as Question: Your name is Fred?

Sentences which describe a question but do not directly ask a question are called indirect questions. They do not take a question mark.

Incorrect: He asked if he could leave early?
(Describes but does not ask a question)

Correct: He asked if he could leave early.

Correct: He asked, "May I leave early?"
(In the last one, the question is directly quoted.)

Use a question mark in parentheses after a point of fact to show uncertainty about it. Use sparingly and only for items impossible to verify.

Example: His great-great-grandfather (Nelson Bridger?) supposedly fought in the Black Hawk War.

Example: Chaucer was born in 1343 (?).
(Note that a question mark used this way is not an end mark. A period is still needed.)

See also Question Marks in Quotations


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