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How To Use Question Marks

How To Use Question Marks

Learn how to best use question marks in your writing with VideoJug's help. Perfect your use of question marks with this simple video.

Step 1: Introduction

The question mark is a punctuation mark used as part of a direct question, and replaces the full stop at the end of a sentence. For example:

What is the capital of Wales?

Why is the grass green?

Where do babies come from?

Does anyone have a pencil?

Step 2: Quotations

If the question used is a direct quotation, repeating the speaker's exact words, then a question mark is still used. For example:

"How on earth did you manage that?" she asked

"Do you find it funny?" asked the young man

However, if the question is indirect and does not repeat the speaker's exact words then a question mark is not used.

She asked how on earth I managed this.

The young man asked if I found it funny.

As both these sentences are now statements only a full stop is used.

Step 3: Questioning uncertainties

There is also one other minor use for the question mark: it can be used to show that something in a statement is uncertain. If this is the case then the question mark is inserted into the sentence, inside parentheses, next to whatever it is that is being questioned. For example:

Whether fact or fiction (?) the chronicles of King Arthur feature a number of distinct characters.

Here the question mark suggests that the reading of the name is potentially doubtful

Another example is:

The famous poem is attributed to Catullus (?84BC - ?54BC)

The question marks before the dates in this example indicate the years given for his birth and death may be inaccurate.