Question Marks 
Rules and Examples

Review

Punctuation marks Question marks, periods and exclamation points are three types of punctuation marks used at the end of a sentence.

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A sentence is a group of words that are put together to make one complete thought. We use punctuation marks at the end of every sentence.

1) Use a period (.) at the end of a sentence that is a statement.

Examples:    
  • I like cats.
  • Apples are red.
2) Use an exclamation point (!) at the end of a sentence that is exciting or should be said loudly.

Examples:   
  • Watch out!
  • I won the race!
3) Use a question mark (?) at the end of a sentence that asks a question.

Examples:
  • Where is the bathroom?
  • Are you home?


Uses of question marks

Question Marks

1) Use a question mark when you are trying to get information. This type of sentence is called an interrogative sentence.

Many interrogative sentences start with question words such as who, what, when, where, why or how and end with a question mark.

Examples:
  • Where is the gas station?
  • Who is your teacher?
  • Why did you stop here?
  • How did you do that?
  • What color is the shirt?
  • When will you arrive?
Interrogative sentences can also start with forms of the words "do" and "be."

Examples:
  • Did they go to the party?
  • Does he like apples?
  • Do you know her name?
  • Are you there?
  • Is she the teacher?
2. Use a question mark at the end of a sentence when you turn a statement into a question to get a specific answer. This type of question is used when the speaker is hoping for a certain answer.

Examples:   
  • You promise to call me every day?
  • See you there at 8:00 tonight?
3. Use a question mark at the end of a tag question.

A tag is a word or phrase that is added to a sentence.

A tag question is a statement followed by a short question. Tag questions are very common in English and are used to ask if you agree with the statement.

Examples:   
  • You speak English, don't you?
  • The dog is brown, right?
  • You paid the bill, didn't you?
  • Lisa is not here, is she?
4. Use questions marks after each question in a series, even if the question is not a complete sentence.

Example:
  • Do you want to eat pizza? chicken? hamburgers?
Note that you do not capitalize each choice because they are all a part of the same sentence. This sentence could also be asked as one complete question using only one question mark at the end:
  • Do you want to eat pizza, chicken or hamburgers?
5. Use a question mark after a rhetorical question.

A rhetorical question is a type of question to which no answer is required.

Examples:   
  • Who cares?
  • Isn't it a beautiful day?
  • Are you kidding me?


Tips for using question marks

1) DO NOT use a question mark after an indirect question.

An indirect question is question found in a declarative sentence.

A declarative sentence is a sentence in the form of a statement. It is not a command or question. It simply states an idea.

Incorrect: I asked her to pay the bill?
Correct: I asked her to pay the bill.

Incorrect: The teacher asked for their homework?
Correct: The teacher asked for their homework.

2) DO NOT put a space before a question mark.

Incorrect: What color is the ball  ?
Correct: What color is the ball?


These were the uses of the question mark. Now that you know them, it is time to practice! Read and do exercises.

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