1. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    Yelling a question

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CyberFD, Jul 14, 2013.

    I'm not sure how to write this, but there are a few examples I can give that I'm leaning towards.

    A)
    "What the hell, man?!"
    [The one I've been leaning towards]

    B)
    "What the hell, man!?"
    [Unsure of this one]

    C)
    "What the hell, man!"
    [Simple, but it's a question so does it require the mark?]

    D)
    "What the hell, man?"
    [There's the mark, but do I need an exclamation mark if he's yelling or do I just say that in the narrative?]

    Help is much appreciated! :D
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I looked into this a few days back. Technically you use the question mark and rely on the sentence to show the exclamation. But someone actually invented a new punctuation mark for the need. I got a kick out of that. It even has a name, the interrobang. :p

    And it's common to use both so I wouldn't worry too much about it if you want to use both:
    I opted for the question mark alone in my story.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Go for the question mark - the last option.

    It's obvious how the character is saying it - you would never say "What the hell, man" in a calm cheerful tone. It'll always be a frustrated tone, maybe a snap, a shout - it's clear to the reader what tone of voice it is. Don't fall into the trap of forcing the reader to perceive everything exactly as you want - give them some freedom of interpretation.

    Besides, "?!" and "!?" are both ungrammatical in any case, so I'd avoid if at all possible. I know it's used, but I don't see it often and don't remember it in any adult novels.
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is not a proper question, so you don't need a question mark. You can put an exclamation mark if you think it's needed--I don't think it is, because obviously the person is saying it in a loud, frustrated tone. Don't put a question mark as well as an exclamation mark unless you are writing comic books or something.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Why do you say it's not a question? Even rhetorical questions get a question mark don't they?

    I'm pretty sure 'WTF' is supposed to have a question mark.
     
  6. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    D...he yelled.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'what the hell' is not a question, grammatically... it's an exclamation... 'what the hell is that?' would be a question...

    and using more than one closing mark is totally unacceptable, won't make it past any half-decent editor...

    so, if he's yelling 'what the hell' the only logical choice is the exclamation point...
     
  8. W.A HAWK
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    Besides, "?!" and "!?" are both ungrammatical in any case, so I'd avoid if at all possible. I know it's used, but I don't see it often and don't remember it in any adult novels.

    I would never put an exclamation mark before a question mark if I where going to use them both, clearly the question comes before the exclamation mark.
     
  9. Orihalcon
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    Orihalcon Active Member

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    I would opt for either the ! or the ?, depending on the context. I can think of common scenarios where "what the hell, man?" is not shouted but is expressed with a questioning tone, possibly in an aggravated manner. I can also think of scenarios where "what the hell, man!" is most definitely shouted but is expressed positively, perhaps even with a hint of laughter underlying. I've had a friend say "what the hell, man?" to another friend in an entirely positive way and he was laughing at the same time. Context is definitely key here.
     
  10. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I agree with Mammamaia, it is '!'. As it is, it is subtly building up to a question, without the question being written (silent question)

    Its like a shorten term of saying
    "What the hell (did you do?)"
    "What the hell (do you mean?)"
    "What the Hell (is that?) etc.

    Its really all down to the context. If you said "What the hell" to your friend who just stepped on your toe, the person you are directing the question to knows what you are on about. So as long as its written into the sentence and the action is explained before of after the statement the reader will know what you are trying to convey and that it is indeed a question..

    If someone just came up to you in the street and just said "What the Hell." you would be confused and left wondering what they were on about.
     
  11. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    But thinking about it..... not back tracking lol. It is confusing by having What as the first word, as What is a question. SO I can see why the OP question is valid.
     

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