The question mark (?) follows an interrogative word, phrase, clause, or sentence. It has the power to end a sentence, yet it may also punctuate a quotation within a sentence without ending the sentence. This mark is always used to indicate a question. For example:
- Have you done your homework ?
- “What time is it ?” he said.
Do not use a question mark after an indirect question. For example:
- I was asked if I had finished my homework.
- He asked what time it was.
Do not use question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence to which no answer is required. For example:
- How could you!
- How dare you!
A declarative expression may be transferred into a question by the mere addition of a question mark. For example:
- The train was late. -> The train was late?
- Really. -> Really?
A question mark is enclosed in parentheses after a fact that is doubtful. For example:
- America was first visited by a white man in A.D.1000 (?).
- The crowd numbered 650 (?) cheering students.
When more than one question is asked in a sentence, a question mark may or may not be used depending upon the degree of emphasis desired. For emphasis, each separate question begins with a capital letter and terminates with its own question mark. A simple question mark is used at the end of a sentence when the questions within the sentence are related and form a unified thought. For example:
- The teacher asked, “How large is Berlin ? What is its population ? and In what country is it located?”
- How am I expected to know the size, population, and location of a city when I don’t have an atlas ?
The question mark should be placed inside quotation marks if it belongs to the quotation ( as shown is the example immediately above). It should be placed outside quotation marks if it does not belong to the quotation. For exmple:
- Who first said, “Haste makes waste” ?
After indirect question, Full Stop is used. For example:
- He asked me what my name was.
- I don’t know who he was.
After question tag question mark is used. For example:
- You are going tomorrow, aren’t you ?
- Come tomorrow, will you ?
After such phrases, words or statements question mark is used where question is understood. For example:
Ram : I shall return the book soon. Shyam : But when ?