Question Marks and Exclamation Marks

Question mark and exclamation mark is used in the sentences to show their sense. They function in writing forms. Here we will get to their rules.

Question Marks and Exclamation Marks in English

What Are Question Marks and Exclamation Marks?

Question and exclamation marks are used to indicate the mood of sentence. In other words, they help us know whether the sentence is in interrogative mood, exclamatory mood, or imperative mood.

Exclamation Mark

An exclamation mark (also known as exclamation point) is used in exclamatory sentences. The exclamation mark is (!). It is used when the sentence is describing a strong emotion such as anger, surprise, joy, etc.

What a nice day!

Be careful!

The Position of an Exclamation Mark

An exclamation mark is used at the end of the exclamatory sentences. Check out the examples:

She drives me crazy!



Remember, an exclamation mark is also used at the end of an imperative sentence or when there is a clause or word which indicates sudden interjections. Check out these examples:

Watch out!

Listen to me!

Using Exclamation Mark with Parantheses

The exclamation mark is used inside the parentheses when it is applied to the words inside it. But when it is applied to the whole sentence, it is used outside the parentheses. Here are the examples:

Mania talked to him (the cruel doctor!), but he refused to operate the surgery.

What a wonderful (but also humid) day!


Generally, using an exclamation mark with parantheses is rare.

Using Exclamation Mark with Quotation

If the exclamation mark is applied to the words inside the quotation, then the exclamation point is used inside the quotation mark, but if it is used to be applied to the whole sentence, then it is used after the quotation mark. For example:

"There is a lion here!" John cried out loud.

When they told me that I have cancer "a life threatening illness," I was devastated!


Sometimes a declarative sentence is followed by an exclamation mark and although it is not in the exclamatory mood, it has to be read with emphasis on particular words, to indicate the sense of anger, sadness, unhappiness, etc. in the sentence.

John is married to Daniel!

The hospital is burned down!


Interjections are followed by exclamation mark when they are used alone. But when they are followed by a clause, we use a comma after them, not an exclamation mark. For example:

Wow, she looks great.


Exclamatory Questions

'Exclamation questions' are interrogative sentences that are not followed by a question mark; instead, they are followed by an exclamation mark, so they express the meaning and emotion of an exclamatory sentence.

Isn't it cute!

Are you idiot!


Do not use (?!) or (!?) at the end of the exclamation questions. Generally, it is not very correct to use exclamation marks in formal contexts.

What and How

Usually, the interrogative words are followed by an auxiliary verb to make an interrogative sentence, but what and how sometimes use anastrophe (which means the order of the words is inverted deliberately) to make an exclamatory mood. And this structure can express any feeling. The important point is to use an exclamation mark at the end of the sentence. Here are the examples:

What a terrible wedding!

How fabulous you look!


Overusing exclamations is exactly the same as not using them at all. Remember not to use exclamatory sentences immensely in formal writings.

Question Mark

A question mark (?) is used at the end of an interrogative sentence to ask a direct question.

Why Do We Use a Question Mark?

The question mark is used to make clear that the sentence is an interrogative one. Let us compare these two examples:



In the first example, the speaker is making sure if the person is Jimmy or not. In other words, they are asking whether the person is Jimmy or not. However, in the second example, the person is calling Jimmy.

When and Where Do We Use Question Marks?

You have to use a question mark wherever you need to get an answer, even when there are multiple questions to be answered. Here are the examples:

Who is that man? John? your brother?

When? where? and how could I get there?

After a comma or a period, do not use a question mark, unless there is an abbreviation that has a period in the end. Here are the examples:

✗ He is Pietro.?

✗Did you call Sam and Sally,? they may come.

When there is a quotation mark, you just have to use the question mark after it. Here are the examples:

Did you read "13 Reasons Why"?

He asked "who is your mother"?

Indirect Questions

As it was mentioned before, question marks are used whenever an answer is required. So when there is an indirect question you should not use a question mark. Use a period, instead. For example:

They wanted to know who you are.

She asked if I wanted to stay or not.

Different Types of Interrogative Sentences

There are different types of questions that need to be punctuated by a question mark wherever they need an answer.

  1. yes-no questions
  2. wh-questions
  3. tag (also called disjunctive) questions
  4. alternative (also called 'choice') questions
  5. rhetorical questions
  6. statement questions
  7. echo (also called checking) questions
  8. negative questions
  9. follow-up questions
  10. two-step questions

These questions are all created in an interrogative mood. Here are a few examples:

Does he still live there? → yes-no question

Close the door, will you? → tag question


Interrogative marks and exclamation marks were discussed in this lesson. Generally, they are used in:

  • exclamatory mood
  • interrogative mood
  • imperative mood


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