Rule 1. Use a question mark only after a direct question.
Correct: Will you go with me?
Incorrect: I'm asking if you will go with me?
Rule 2a. A question mark replaces a period at the end of a sentence.
Incorrect: Will you go with me?.
Rule 2b. Because of Rule 2a, capitalize the word that follows a question mark.
Some writers choose to overlook this rule in special cases.
Example: Will you go with me? with Joe? with anyone?
Rule 3a. Avoid the common trap of using question marks with indirect questions, which are statements that contain questions. Use a period after an indirect question.
Incorrect: I wonder if he would go with me?
I wonder if he would go with me.
I wonder: Would he go with me?
Rule 3b. Some sentences are statements—or demands—in the form of a question. They are called rhetorical questions because they don't require or expect an answer. Many should be written without question marks.
Why don't you take a break.
Would you kids knock it off.
What wouldn't I do for you!
Rule 4. Use a question mark when a sentence is half statement and half question.
Example: You do care, don't you?
Rule 5a. The placement of question marks with quotation marks follows logic. If a question is within the quoted material, a question mark should be placed inside the quotation marks.
She asked, "Will you still be my friend?"
The question Will you still be my friend? is part of the quotation.
Do you agree with the saying, "All's fair in love and war"?
The question Do you agree with the saying? is outside the quotation.
Rule 5b. If a quoted question ends in midsentence, the question mark replaces a comma.
Example: "Will you still be my friend?" she asked.
Rule 1. Use an exclamation point to show emotion, emphasis, or surprise.
I'm truly shocked by your behavior!
Yay! We won!
Rule 2. An exclamation point replaces a period at the end of a sentence. It also replaces a midsentence comma.
Incorrect: I'm truly shocked by your behavior!.
Correct: I'm truly shocked by your behavior!
Incorrect: "I'm truly shocked by your behavior!," I told her.
Correct: "I'm truly shocked by your behavior!" I told her.
Rule 3. Avoid using an exclamation point in formal business writing.
Rule 4. Overuse of exclamation points is a sign of undisciplined writing. The writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, "An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke." Do not use even one of these marks unless you're convinced it is justified.
Despite its popularity, the slash (/), technically known as a virgule, is frowned upon by purists. Other than to indicate dates (9/11/2001) or to separate lines of poetry ("Celery, raw / Develops the jaw"), it has few defensible uses.
Usually a hyphen, or in some cases the word or, will suffice. Instead of writing the novelist/poet Eve Jones, make it the novelist-poet Eve Jones. Rather than available to any man/woman who is qualified, make it any man or woman.
The slash has always been a handy tool for taking notes and writing rough outlines. Substituting w/o for without, y/o for years old, and b/c for because can save valuable time and space.
However, most slashes can—and should—be removed from a final draft. Writers should replace a construction like any man/woman with any man or woman in their finished work.
"The virgule is a mark that doesn't appear much in first-rate writing," says Bryan A. Garner in A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. "Use it as a last resort."
|1. What are the different types of punctuation marks?|
|2. How do you use a comma correctly?|
|3. What is the purpose of quotation marks?|
|4. When should you use an exclamation mark?|
|5. What is the difference between a dash and a hyphen?|