When to Use a Question Mark
What is a question mark? A question mark is the symbol used to show that something is a question. It goes on the end of the sentence containing the question. For example, “Would you like an apple?” You will notice the question mark (?) at the end to denote that the statement is a question.
Question marks are part of English punctuation, which also includes exclamation marks, periods, commas, etc. Punctuation is designed to make communication more clear, so I’d like, totally, recommend that you use it.
Question marks indicate that someone is asking a question. You use it at the end of a sentence where you would otherwise put a period.
Do we need milk at the store?
Is this American Oak?
When quoting someone, put the question mark at the end of the quote, within the quotation marks.
“Was it you that bought me flowers?” she asked.
The general growled to his lieutenant, “why aren’t they here yet?”
However, don’t use a question mark if the question is contained within a statement, as in
John wanted to know if you had bought the car yet.
Dad told me to ask you if you’d taken the trash out.
In formal writing, and even in all but very casual writing, you should only use one instance of a punctuation element. So don’t go stacking up question marks, even if you ARE incredibly curious.
That’s basically it for question marks. Unlike much of English grammar, they’re fairly simple. But there’s one more fun thing I want to tell you about before we go: the interrobang. Yes, it’s a real thing; I’m not making it up. I know I just told you that it normally wouldn’t be acceptable to use both an exclamation mark and a question mark at the end of a sentence. But there are plenty of times when that just seems to make the most sense! In 1962, the head of an advertising agency, Martin Spekter, came up with the interrobang. It combines an exclamation and a question into a single mark. It’s not very popular, but you should go ahead and use it! English doesn’t always have to be full of rules.
That’s all for now – thanks for watching and happy writing!