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 indicate 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 (!). Just like the other punctuations it can be used on different occasions:

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!

Stop!

Tip!

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!

Exclamation Mark: Uses

Using exclamation mark for sounds impression

  • In commands, interjections, or emphatic declarations

"Stop!" she yelled.

''Enough with this nonsense!''

"Watch out!"

  • When the sentence is describing a strong emotion such as anger, surprise, joy, etc.

What a nice day!

What's wrong with you! Stop it now!

  • For sound impressions

My cat made a loud Meow! And followed the little mouse.

The lion went Grr! And scared the backpackers

Tip!

Remember that the exclamation mark is rarely used in formal texts such as academic or journalistic writings.

Using Exclamation Mark with Parantheses

When the exclamation mark is applied to words inside the parenthesis, it is placed inside the parentheses. 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!

You can also put an exclamation mark in parenthesis to emphasize a single word in a sentence or to show that a particular part of the sentence is surprising. Do not insert a space between the word and the parenthesis. For example:

She saw a really(!) big dog running after the cats.

He came closer to me(!) raised his hand angrily(!!) and then killed the cockroach above my head(!!!)

You could also use more than one exclamation marks.

Warning

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 it is used inside the quotation marks, but if it is 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 "a life threatening illness," I was devastated!

Tone

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!

Tip!

When interjections are used alone, they are followed by an exclamation mark. But when they are followed by a clause, they are followed by a comma, not an exclamation mark. For example:

Wow, she looks great.

Ugh!

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 emotions of an exclamatory sentence instead of asking for an answer. For example:

Isn't it cute!

Are you an idiot!

Warning

Do not use (?!) or (!?) at the end of the exclamation questions.

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 words is inverted deliberately) to make a sentence in exclamatory mood. 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!

Tip

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

Question Mark

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

Question Mark: Uses

The question mark is used to indicate that the sentence is an interrogative one and demands an answer. Let us compare these two examples:

Jimmy?

Jimmy!

In the first example, the speaker is asking whether the person they are talking to 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 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?

Do not use a question mark before or after a comma or a period, unless there is an abbreviation that has a period in the end or the question is part of a title. For example:

❌He is Pietro.?

✔He is Pietro.

‘How will I know?’, by Whitney Houston is one of my favorite songs.

the title of a song

‘Scooby-doo and guess who?’, is a really funny animation.

title of a movie

We could also use question marks for a question within a sentence, let's see:

Would they give her the flowers? She wondered.

'Am I dreaming?' she thought.

We could also use the question mark to indicate uncertainly, either in parenthesis or brackets.

The doctor has given him 0.8 (?) milligram of the anesthesia.

not sure if it is 0.8 milligram or not

I think World War II was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945 [1944?], I’m not quite sure.

the speaker is not sure about the date

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

They wanted to know who you are.

She asked if I wanted to stay or not.

Review

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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