Put the Question Mark Where the Question Is First Asked

Margie Wakeman Wells The Question Mark 2 Comments

It seems as if I just addressed this, but I looked back and don’t see it.

The only way to consistently punctuate questions is to follow this rule: Put the question mark where the question is first asked; where, if the attorney had just stopped and waited, s/he could have gotten an answer.

…What was she wearing? Did you notice?
…What was she wearing? A jacket or a coat?
…What was she wearing? I am talking about on the night of the incident. (or ? depending on intonation)

…Where did it come from? The right? The left?
…Where did it come from? The right or the left?
…Where did it come from? The right, the left, or the middle?

Questions that go on after the first question is asked should be handled in this format.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Comments 2

  1. What if it’s a “what about” question and then an explanation afterwards? I’ve always been conflicted on how to punctuate that.
    “What about prior neck pain, had you had that before the accident?” Or “What about prior neck pain? Had you had that before the accident?”

    Thanks! I love your posts!!

    1. Post
      Author

      It should be

      …What about prior neck pain? Had you had…?
      …What about John? Was he there?
      …What about the last date? Is that when you…?

      Margie

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