1. Nervous1st

    Nervous1st New Member

    Feb 25, 2009
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    A question about question marks

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Nervous1st, Sep 2, 2009.

    I'm a little embarrassed because this, I'm sure, is a simple, early learning question but I'm just not sure of the following:

    Why? What did you have in mind?
    Why, what did you have in mind?

    I'm fairly sure it's the first one but not certain. Do you need a question mark after each individual question or at the end of the sentence?

    What did she want? My time? My money? I had nothing left to give her.
    What did she want, my time, my money? I had...

    I can't seem to recall it from my reading...or my studies :redface:

  2. arron89

    arron89 Banned

    Oct 10, 2008
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    Just at the end of each interrogative/questioning sentence. So it really depends on how you structure those sentences. Like with your first example, either should be fine, but with the last example, because "What did she want" is a complete sentence you should probably end it with a question mark. With lists like "my time, my money" you can either make each a seperate phrase ended with a question mark, or link them with a comma/semicolon and end that sentence with a question mark.
  3. CharlieVer

    CharlieVer Contributor Contributor

    Mar 2, 2009
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    Raritan, NJ
    The first in each example.

    In the first example, it's two sentences. What you've done in the second alternative is to separate two sentences with a comma, which is improper comma usage.

    In the second example, I believe the reasons are this:

    The sentence fragments have implied complete sentences.
    What did she want? [Did she want] (m)y time? [Did she want] (m)y money?

    The latter attempt violates grammar rules on lists, unless you add "or" to the sentence.

    What did she want, my time [or] my money?

    I confess, I'm not entirely certain I'm correct on my reasons, and I haven't yet found a grammar book to back up what I'm saying, though I did google it briefly. I'm much more certain of my conclusion: that the first examples, and not the second, were correct. The reasoning I provided is the best I could come up with, without finding the answer in a grammar book. I hope it helped.

  4. mammamaia

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Nov 21, 2006
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    Coquille, Oregon
    either is correct, depending on what the speaker is meant to be saying... if s/he's a bit old-fashioned, or the story takes place in the past, the second one would be perfectly ok, if only one question is being asked, since people did put 'why' at the beginning of their sentences, when expressing a bit of surprise...

    and the first speaker could well be asking two separate questions...

    either is ok to use... the first example emphasizes each item, while the second just lists them less forcefully...

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