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Question Marks

Question marks, or interrogation marks, are the termination marks used to turn a statement into a question.

In their most straightforward use, they can simply be used instead of a full stop as follows:

Although this method of forming a question is grammatically correct, it is more conventional in English to also signal a question at the beginning of the sentence. This can be done through noun-verb inversion:

A question can also be signalled through the use of question words such as how, why, when, which and where:

Question marks are only used to complete direct questions as opposed to indirect questions, which are statements which report questions rather than ask them directly:

Question marks follow broadly the same rules as exclamation marks. In the majority of cases, a capital letter must be used following a question mark, as it is treated like a full stop:

However, when used in a clause in parenthesis (i.e. inside brackets), or as part of a direct quotation within a sentence which continues after the quotation, a question mark can be followed by a lower-case letter:

Note that the question mark, like an exclamation mark, goes inside the brackets and quotation marks. Also, in the second example, notice that a question mark is used, even though the words 'he asked' suggest an indirect question - this is because anything inside quotation marks is treated as direct speech or a direct statement, and so this clause is a direct question.

Question marks also follow the same rules as exclamation marks when they are used inside brackets or quotation marks at the end of a main sentence:

In the first example, a full stop is needed after the closing bracket, but a full stop is not needed in the second example after the closing quotation mark.

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