myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Question marks (?)

Why should we use question marks? Question marks symbolize questions; use them after an interrogative sentence. However, don't use a question mark after an indirect question.

For example:

Are you done with your homework?

Eric's mother asked him whether he was done with his homework.

In the first example, a direct question is being asked. That sentence is an interrogative sentence because it is asking a question. Use question marks in these situations.

In the second example, however, an indirect question is being stated. Here, the statement is about a question, but it isn’t a question in itself. The writer is stating what Eric's mother asked, not asking it himself. Therefore, that sentence is a declarative sentence, and should not have a question mark.


A slightly different scenario from an indirect question is when you quote someone asking a question. When you quote someone asking a question, then you do use a question mark.

For example:

Eric's mother asked him, "Are you done with your homework?"

In the above sentence, the writer is quoting Eric's mother asking a question. The quote itself is a direct question, but the entire statement is not. However, it ends with a question mark because of the rules of punctuating quotations (this will be discussed in the next grade level concepts). Therefore, use question marks when quoting a direct question.


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Quotation Marks
Exclamation Points

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