1. Racktash
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    Racktash New Member

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    Question Marks, a simple question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Racktash, Oct 30, 2011.

    This is probably extremely basic stuff, but I thought it best to get it right. When a character is calling out to somebody or, indeed, saying their name (to check that they have recognised somebody correctly, for example), is it correct to use a question mark. See below for an example:

    "John? John, are you there?" Sally called.

    and

    "John? What are you doing here?"

    Thanks!
     
  2. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Depends on the tone. I'm not really sure how to explain it, but these examples look fine to me. If Sally were calling out John's name, not just questioning something about John, you could use a period or an exclamation mark. But it seems that Sally's in a questioning frame of mind, so the question marks here look fine, in fact better than periods or question marks. Imagine this:

    "John. John, are you there?"
    "John. What are you doing here?"

    This looks weird (well, at least in the first sentence), though technically not incorrect. It just looks weird because you'd wonder why Sally is making a statement and then asking about it.

    One the flip-side, "John. I've been expecting you" looks better than "John? I've been expecting you," though both are correct depending on the tone.

    You could also use commas in place of question marks.
     
  3. Racktash
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    Racktash New Member

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    Thanks for the help — definitely cleared things up. :)
     
  4. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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  5. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    double post sorry.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    In the first case, the "John" is pretty clearly in a questioning tone and the question mark is definitely right. In the second case it might be a questioning tome, in which case it would be as you have written it, or it might be an exclamation, in which case it would be "John! What are you doing here."

    A full stop (period) would be quite a flat tone, so I wouldn't use it in that case but I might use it in something like "John. I might have guessed you would turn up."
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's nothing wrong with your examples, racktash... it's done all the time and is easily understood by the reader as the speaker using a questioning tone...
     
  8. Racktash
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    Racktash New Member

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    Many thanks for the replies, chaps!
     

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