Question Mark - Definition, Uses and Examples

Question Mark – Definition, Uses and Examples

Welcome to the post Question Mark – Definition, Uses and Examples. There are various Punctuation Marks in English that we need to be very familiar with to enhance our writings and put them in proper perspective. The question mark is an important mark that we need to know about.

Question Mark – Definition, Uses and Examples

Let us begin by attempting a description of the question mark. (See Wh-Questions in English and Types of Questions in English)

What is a Question Mark?

The question mark is a punctuation mark with the symbol (?) which we usually place at the end of a sentence or phrase that asks a question or is intended as a direct question. The question mark is also a mark that we use to indicate a word or phrase whose appropriateness we doubt; or after a number or date whose accuracy is in doubt.

Uses of the Question marks with Examples

We use the question mark in the following instances:

After Direct Questions

For instance:

  • When are you travelling?
  • Was it a good sight to behold?
  • Is it a boy or a girl?
  • Why are you here?
  • Will you stay for dinner?
  • Where are you going?
  • What for?
  • Are you alright?
  • Is the venue of the party commodious?

Note:

We do not usually use a question mark in indirect questions: For instance:

  • He asked her where she was going.
  • She asked if he would come.
  • We demanded if we would get our pay.

When a Sentence Starts with a Statement but Ends with a Question

For instance:

  • People in power shouts change, but can they effect it?
  • The teacher insists on punctuality, but can he sustain it?
  • Doctors advise healthy and balanced diet, but can the poor afford it?

After Questions within a Sentence

We use a question mark immediately after a question that is included in another sentence. For example:

  • “Has he come?” his father asked.
  • The principal asked, “have the students paid their fees?”

Note

When a question mark and quotation marks occur together, the question mark comes before the quotation marks if the quotation is a question; for instance:

  • The waiter asked the guest, “Do you want your chicken soup hot or cold?”
  • The teacher asked the recalcitrant boy, “Will you be of good behavior as from today?”

But if the whole sentence is a question, the quotation marks comes before the question marks. In other words, the quotation marks occur first, while the question mark comes last. For example:

  • Do you agree that “a stich in time saves nine”?
  • Does the father of the boy know that “examples are better than precept”?

When a Statement is Approximate or Questionable

This can be with or without parentheses. For instance:

  • Slave Trade in Africa lasted from 1490 (?) – 1810
  • Slave Trade in Africa lasted from 1490? – 1810
  • François Rabelais (1493?-1553).

To Mark a Sentence with the Function but not the Structure of a Question

The question mark may mark a sentence that has the function but not the structure of a question: For example:

  • You’re from New York then?
  • Based on that, you will no longer travel then?
  • You must be pretty sure of this, right?

We might omit the question mark from a sentence which has the structure of a question but is not intended to be a question. For instance:

  • Will you keep quiet for a minute!
  • Will you stop messing up the whole place!
  • Won’t you leave my house too!

These sentences truly have the structure of a question but they are not intended as such judging from the speaker’s tone or mood. They are more of imperatives. See Types of Sentences According to Function for more clarity.

Other Context of Usage

We employ the question mark in some other contexts such as in creative writing where it is used to indicate that someone is wondering about something or lost in thoughts and in journalism to anticipate a reader’s question. For examples:

  • He assumed she had gone to visit her mother. But why had she taken her passport?
  • How is the tax calculated? It is based on the current market value of the property.

Final Words

This punctuation mark, which we have considered in this post tagged Question Mark – Definition, Uses and Examples has offered so much insight just like we saw in the most versatile punctuation mark in English, the comma! I am certain you have gained some useful knowledge.

You can check out other punctuation marks that I have also put together for your reading pleasure. Do not forget to share this knowledge and connect with us on our Social Media platforms. It is just a click away. See you around.

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