question mark is a punctuation mark that is placed at the end of a direct question; that is, a sentence that asks a question, but not an indirect question which ends in a full-stop.

Direct questions require a question mark at the end.

Examples:

  • Is that your uncle wearing a cowboy hat?
  • Could you not call my son fatso, please?
  • Did you see the movie entitled "The three legged man"?

 

Indirect questions do not require a question mark at the end.
When a question is being reported and not directly asked, a full-stop, not a question mark, is used.

 

Examples:

  • She asked, "Why are you staring at me?"
    (Direct question with question mark)
  • She asked why I was staring at her.
    (Indirect question with no question mark)

 

A question mark is not followed by a full stop or comma.

Examples:

  • No: "Why are you not looking at me when I'm talking to you?", Jennifer asked me.
  • Yes: "Why are you not looking at me when I'm talking to you?" Jennifer asked me.

 

A question mark is used after the full-stop that ends an abbreviation at the end of a sentence.

Examples:

  • No: You said you saw the UFO at about 7 p.m?
  • Yes: You said you saw the UFO at abaout 7 p.m.?

 

Question mark and quotation marks

Examples:

The question mark must be placed inside of closing quotation marks if it is part of he quotation.

  • No: The children keep asking me, "When are you going to tell us a ghost story"?
  • Yes: The children keep asking me, "When are you going to tell us a ghost story?"

The question mark must be placed outside of closing quotation marks if it is not part of the quotation.

  • No: Was it you who said, "His three sons are as cheeky as a monkey?"
  • Yes: Was it you who said, "His three sons are as cheeky as a monkey"?