Question Marks

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EnglishGrammar & Punctuation
Grammar & PunctuationPunctuation
LanguageEnglish Language

Transcript

00:17

Because these are direct questions, they require question marks.

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There are other scenarios, however, where you may be unsure about whether or not a question

00:25

mark is needed.

00:27

For example, take the simple declarative sentence, “Jim has two coconuts and he's banging them

00:32

together.”

00:33

What if you were surprised to see Jim with those coconuts, though? How would you express

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that surprise?

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You would add a question mark to the end of the sentence to get, “Jim has two coconuts

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and he's banging them together?” Then, there's the question flurry. This isn't

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a winter weather condition you encounter in the Midwest...

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...but rather a string of add-on questions tacked on to an initial direct question.

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For example, if you were desperate to stay out for as long as possible on Saturday night,

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you might ask your mom, “Can I stay out until 11:00? 11:05? 11:15? 11:30?”

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Or, if you needed more time to finish your algebra exam, you might ask your teacher,

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“May I have ten more minutes? fifteen minutes? thirty minutes? the rest of the day?”

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Each add-on question gets its own question mark.

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Also, don't capitalize the first letter of an add-on question unless the question could

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stand on its own as a sentence. Let's move on to tag questions. Say you have

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the statement, “That's the Holy Hand Grenade.”

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Tack a tag question on to that sentence...

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...so that you end up with, “That's the Holy Hand Grenade, isn't it?”...

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...and suddenly your statement requires a question mark.

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Next come indirect questions. Examples of indirect questions include, “I wonder why

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the Black Knight is so delusional”...

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...and, “I wonder why the French use farm animals as weaponry.”

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Because statements where you wonder about things are indirect, rather than direct, questions...

01:58

...they do not end with question marks. But what happens when you mix direct questions

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with indirect questions? Do rivers run backward? Does the world explode?

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Well, no. You would write out a direct-indirect question to read, “The question is, who

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were the Knights who say “Ni! <<knee>> ”?”...

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...where you place a comma after the first clause and a question mark after the direct

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question.

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You could also avoid the direct-indirect question nonsense altogether by writing, “Everyone

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wondered who the Knights who say “Ni!” were.”

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The grammar rules for question marks might… raise a few questions…

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…but as long as you practice what you've learned, you should be able to triumph over

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this particular grammar conundrum...

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...just like the Black Knight. Oh, wait...