Welcome to the fourth post in the series: Punctuation For Beginners. This post is all about question marks and exclamation marks.
Punctuation is the name for the marks we use in writing. Punctuation marks are tools that have set functions. We use them to give a sentence meaning and rhythm.
These are the most common punctuation marks:
- The Full Stop
- The Comma
- The Question Mark
- The Exclamation Mark
- The Semicolon
- The Colon
- The Hyphen
- The Em Dash
- The Bracket or Parenthesis
- The Inverted Comma/Quotation Mark
- The Ellipsis
- The Bullet Point
- The Apostrophe
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Today, I will be writing about The Question Mark and The Exclamation Mark.
What is a question mark?
A question mark is a punctuation mark (?) used at the end of a sentence to indicate a question.
- Replace the full stop at the end of a sentence. Example: Is this where we want to be?
- Occur at the end of a direct question. Example: “Who are you?”
- Replace the comma if a quoted question ends in mid-sentence. Example: “Do you love me?” he asked.
Tip: Avoid making the common mistake of using question marks with indirect statements. Example: I wondered if she would stay for two weeks? should be: I wondered if she would stay for two weeks.
What is an exclamation mark?
An exclamation mark is a punctuation mark (!) used at the end of a sentence to indicate an exclamation or interjection.
‘In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semicolon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets overexcited and breaks things and laughs too loudly.’ ~Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
- Replace the full stop at the end of a sentence.
- Show emotion. Example: “Wow!”
- Indicate surprise. Example: “Oh! You startled me.”
- Emphasise an ordinary sentence.
- Indicate direct speech that is shouted or spoken loudly. Example: “Get out now!”
- Can indicate a greeting. Example: Hey!
- Show amusement. Example: Included on the list of banned items was ‘crochet hooks’! (via)
- Should always be avoided in formal business writing.
- Are known as exclamation points in North America.
- Replace the comma if a quoted exclamation occurs in mid-sentence. Example: “I hate you!” she said.
Tip: Avoid using exclamation marks unless you are sure you need one. As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.”
Suggested reading: All You Need To Know About Punctuating And Formatting Dialogue
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