Question Marks

There's only one measly little rule that you have to remember. Use a question mark after a direct question.

 

Examples

"Can dogs get laryngitis?"

If Fido won't stop barking, he sure can, but it'll take him longer than it would take you thanks to his thick canine vocal cords. And thanks to the question mark at the end of this sentence, we know it's a direct question. If a question is indirect, use a period instead, like this: Nathan asked his dad if dogs could get laryngitis.

"Maria asked her orthodontist, "Who invented braces?""

Maria can blame the Egyptians for why she can't eat corn on the cob for the next two years. We should also point out that if a quotation ends in a question mark, like it does here, the question mark goes inside the quotation marks.

"What's the official state bird of Maryland?"

Since this is a direct question, it ends in a question mark. And, if you guessed the Baltimore oriole, you'd be right. It's a small, migratory breeding bird that hasn't won a World Series since 1983.

 

Common mistakes

Indirect questions are the one type of question that doesn't require a question mark. When you find yourself in class, looking out the window, daydreaming about your crush Bobby, you might be wondering whether or not he likes you back.

Your thoughts may sound like questions, but since you're not actually asking anything directly, they don't need question marks. The statement "I wonder if Bobby's heart flutters when I pass by" only needs a period at the end of it.

And some sappy flute music to go along with the sappy sentiment, probably.

 

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