1. Tyler Danann
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    Tyler Danann Active Member

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    Combined ?! at the end of speech

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Tyler Danann, Dec 19, 2014.

    Just wondering on how common or correct is the "?!" to be used in speech?

    “Should I open fire?” Swen asked urgently passing him the scope. “Are they friendly?”
    “Approaching the town with an army like that?!” the sheriff growled. “I'm not about to find out the hard way!”


    Is it ok in books, or is more for the comic book type stuff?
     
  2. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it's a no-no. I would never use both of them, but a friend of mine who self-published her novel, despite what her editor said she wanted to keep them 'cause she felt they fit that one sentence the best. It caught my eye for sure. I don't know, maybe it looks a bit amateurish or that it'd belong to a comic?

    If I were you, I'd pick one. My choice would be the question mark 'cause he already growls it so is there really a need for the exclamation mark? Readers aren't that dumb; they'll get it. :)
     
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  3. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Whenever I see ?! together, I assume that what the writer is trying to imply is that the question was asked, loudly. Personally, I'd prefer to read something along the lines of - “Approaching the town with an army like that?” growled the sheriff, shouting over the noise of gunfire.
     
  4. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    Ditto @Mad Hatter
     
  5. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not sure if growling and shouting belong in the same description, they seem to contradict one another.

    ?! is a no-no in my book. It just feels too informal, like something you would see in text-speak: "Comin 2 twn w an army lik dat?! OMG LUG :O" the sheriff growled. But maybe that's just me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
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  6. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    That's called an 'interrobang', and seems amateurish to me, too.
     
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  7. hummingbird
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    hummingbird Member

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    I think it might have a place on rare occasion, for special emphasis if it fits with a unique character personality trait (in other words, generally not, but I wouldn't rule it out as a possibility now and then). However, it doesn't make any sense followed by the word "growled." That is contradictory.
     
  8. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Simplifying speech can eliminate adverbs and unnecessary punctuation, leaving more to the imagination e.g. “Approaching the town with an army like that?” said the sheriff . “I'm not about to find out the hard way!”

    Perhaps all that's needed.
     
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  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I wouldn't use it until [​IMG] shows up on most keyboards. ;)
     
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  10. The Cuckoo's Nest
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    The Cuckoo's Nest Member

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    It's incorrect grammar. As a English teacher, I absolutely forbid it in formal writing, but I am more forgiving of its use in creative writing, as long as it's appropriate and not superfluous. Technically, it's never correct to end a sentence with two or more terminal punctuation marks, except in the case of ellipses (you can't have an English rule without at least one exception).
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2014
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  11. Endsoftheworld
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    Endsoftheworld New Member

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    Personally, I think there should be no need to use a "!". If your sentence is strong enough, the reader will understand the urgency within the sentence, and there shouldn't be a need.

    Officially, there's no reason to not use a "!" or "!?" or "?!" (the Corpus of Contemporary American English showing literally thousands or results for "?!" and "!?")

    That being said, in improper syntax, like casual email or IMs, I use "!?" to stress a question that is also exclaimed, and "?!" to exclaim a question. It sounds weird, but it makes sense (at least in my head).
    • "You had sex with her?!" sex with her being the shocking part of the statement, and not a question, so the "!" denotes stress on that part of the sentence.
    • "You had sex with her!?" the fact that you actually had sex, being put into question here, so the "?" is stressing the fact that this statement is a question
     
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  12. Eric Byers
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    Eric Byers Member

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    A very interesting theory.
    @Endsoftheworld
     
  13. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I knew ?! was somewhat questionable, but I didn't realise it straight up not acceptable for formal use. Do I have a session of "find and replace" ahead of me?
     
  14. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There are always ways around these dilemmas. You could try this:

    “Should I open fire?” Swen asked urgently passing him the scope. “Are they friendly?”
    “Get real! Approaching the town with an army like that?” the sheriff growled. “I'm not about to find out the hard way!”


    I'm with those who think 'the sheriff growled' is out of whack with the notion of an exclamation, though. He's growling. Maybe he should bark? :)
     
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  15. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Dan Brown uses it in his book, Inferno and I don't think he's inferring that his readers are a bit thick.

    There are a couple of times I've thought about using it but have decided to change the sentence instead so I don't have to.
     
  16. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Ooh I love the interrobang! But it always seems to me to be rather YA or slightly goofy so I would only use it when you're trying to prove your character is melodramatic -
    "Omigod, I'm the daughter of an elf king?!"
    or the situation is goofy.
    "You're the Springfield flasher?!"
     
  17. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    Yep, it's called an interrobang, and if your editor follows the Chicago, he or she will remove it (the Chicago forbids it).
     
  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Lol I still don't get it.

    As to the OP - yeah I wouldn't use it. Truth is, if your writing is strong enough, there should be no need for it really. I think though that a lot of readers will forgive it as long as the writing and story are engaging. However, it's definitely not standard practice and if you get yourself a writer/editor/grammar nazi/particularly picky or critical reader reading your book, then you're in for a bad review probably lol if you use it say, more than once or twice!
     

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