1. doggiedude

    doggiedude Contributor Contributor

    Feb 15, 2016
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    Florida, USA, Earth, The Sol System

    punctuation questions that aren't questions

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by doggiedude, Apr 20, 2016.

    I ran across this in my WIP

    Could everyone else please give us the room for now.

    Obviously, it's a question. However, it's being said by the President in his own office and it seems to me that the phrasing is more out of politeness rather than him actually asking a question. Should I still end it with "?" ?
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    El Tembloroso Caribe
    I am personally of the opinion that it should be a period to indicate that the question is rhetorical, and like you say, a pat phrasing for sake of politesse. I can hear his voice saying it and it comes out as a statement, not a question. Same thing with statements like Who knows. No question is really being asked. It's just another way to say No one knows or It's indeterminable. There's never the intonation of a question when it's said. I am sure others will disagree with me. ;)
    Steerpike likes this.
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Jul 5, 2010
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    California, US
    Yep. I'd use a period as well. When you use a question mark, the reader's mind will inflect the sentence as a question. Since that's not an accurate representation of how the speaker said it, use a period.
  4. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

    Mar 6, 2016
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    I recall a great John Prine lyric:

    "A question ain't really a question
    If you know the answer, too."
  5. HelloImRex

    HelloImRex Senior Member

    Jan 26, 2014
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    I feel like most presidents would say it as a command in the first place. "Give us the room." or "Please give us the room." depending on how polite they want to be. If they do it as a question they seem like a weak president but maybe that's the intention. If that is the intention maybe a question mark hits home better. Something to think about since it is something that will cause a certain percentage of readers to be pulled out of the story as is. I don't assume stuff like that is wrong immediately when I see it but I do wonder and then its a distraction. It might be better to avoid things like this when there's a simpler alternative that doesn't sacrifice meaning.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
    IHaveNoName and Shadowfax like this.

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