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The Question Mark

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The Question Mark ends an interrogative sentence, which is a sentence that asks something. It shows that a sentence is a question.

Rules for using the Question Mark

Rule 1: Use a question mark after a sentence that asks a direct question.

Where should we go if it rains?
(Asking a direct question - use a question mark.)
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
(Asking a direct question - use a question mark.)
Who is our substitute teacherB?
(Asking a direct question - use a question mark.)

Rule 2: Use a question mark if a sentence starts with a statement but has a question at its end.

You like the color red, right? (This sentence begins as a statement, but ends in a question - use a question mark at the end.)

This dress fits, doesn't it? (This sentence begins as a statement, but ends in a question - use a question mark at the end.)

Charlie is coming to the party, isn't he? (This sentence begins as a statement, but ends in a question - use a question mark at the end.)

Rule 3: In an indirect question, which describes a question but does not ask one, do NOT use a question mark. Use a period instead.

I wondered where we would go after school. (Use a period for a sentence that describes a question but does not ask one.)

She asked why we were eating pizza tonight. (Use a period for a sentence that describes a question but does not ask one.)

Joe asked when we would arrive. (Use a period for a sentence that describes a question but does not ask one.)

Rule 4: If a question has an abbreviation at its end, include a question mark after the period.

Did you go to North Cedar St.? (Abbreviation at the end of a question - add a question mark after period)

Do you live in the U.S.A.? (Abbreviation at the end of a question - add a question mark after period)

Rule 5: Remember, put a space AFTER a question mark, but never before.

Where you have been today? I was looking for you.

Summary

The handy chart below can help you remember the rules and uses of the period.

NAME Punctuation
Mark
USAGE EXAMPLE
Question
Mark
?
  • Use at the end of a question or a statement that ends with a question.

  • Do not use after an indirect question.

  • Use at the end of a question that ends in an abbreviation.

  • Always put a space after the question mark.
  • Do you know the words to the song?
  • This is fun, isn't it?

 

  • Joe asked when we would arrive.

 

  • Do you live in the U.S.A.?

 

  • Where you have been today? I was looking for you.

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