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Question Marks

January 31, 2011

I hope one of our readers (the fact that we have readers still blows me away) can answer this grammatical question for me. Does the use of a question mark automatically end a sentence? can I use one as a sort of comma, separating distinct questions within one sentence, like I just did here?

13 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2011 1:45 pm

    I’m not an expert on rules of grammar, but I think a question mark is only used for ending a sentence. If I’m correct, will Don Pardo please tell me what I’ve won?

    • Fat Al permalink*
      January 31, 2011 2:02 pm

      By the way, it’s a little ironic — isn’t it? — that you misspelled your last name in a thread on grammar.

      • January 31, 2011 2:59 pm

        Ha ha ha! Truly an Alanis Morissette moment. And nice way to use the question mark without ending a sentence, but I still don’t think it’s correct.

      • jco permalink
        January 31, 2011 5:41 pm

        See? There you inserted a little sentence into your main sentence. It would have also worked if you had written “isn’t it?” after your main sentence. The issue with just running questions together is that it looks like there’s a typo. For example, “Should we go to dinner? or just have a drink?” looks like the writer forgot to capitalize the first letter of the second sentence. I’ll stop now.

  2. jco permalink
    January 31, 2011 1:50 pm

    Didn’t they teach you anything in that fancy private school? In written English, the question mark replaces the period at the end of the sentence.

  3. Fat Al permalink*
    January 31, 2011 1:56 pm

    Not so fast. A question mark can certainly show up mid-sentence as part of a quotation or parenthetical. I’ve never seen it done the way anonymous guy proposes, but there probably are circumstances where that works (as weird as it may look).

    • jco permalink
      January 31, 2011 1:59 pm

      Ok, if you have quoted a sentence inside your sentence, then it ends THAT sentence (replacing the period). But it still ends the sentence. I object to the use that Mr. A proposes, unless in poetic verse.

      • January 31, 2011 2:07 pm

        Now that we’re down mocking my schooling, we are done right? I will simply say that it seems a little awkward to have to have a separate sentence for each question, and one question mark for several looks a little off to me. As though only the last one was the question.

        • jco permalink
          January 31, 2011 5:16 pm

          Now that we’re down TO mocking your school, we are done.

  4. r l ragin permalink
    January 31, 2011 3:00 pm

    in this day and age i believe that all grammatical “rules” have been shit canned…one can do whatever they can cram into their 146 character space (or whatever is allowed)…


    • jco permalink
      January 31, 2011 5:15 pm

      And THAT is a tragedy. Isn’t it?

      • r l ragin permalink
        January 31, 2011 8:12 pm

        in more ways than one!…



  1. Question Marks, redux « The Half Empty Glass

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