Can you end a question with an exclamation mark!


#1

If a character is angry, enraged at the player. But he asks a question: “Where did you put it?”, that doesn’t sound very angry.

“Where did you put it!” makes more sense, and except if the character repeats himself (Where did you put it? Where did you put it!) it’d be wrong syntax. Of course, I can claim “Artistic license! Typo intended! Respect the style of the artist!”.


So my question is, is there some sort of convention that would be a solution? I don’t like “?!”. I don’t like the “Josh was enraged; “Where did you put it?” he said” (it doesn’t feel as if he’s angry, telling doesn’t work, showing works better).


“Tell me where it is!” is the best solution I found besides “Where did you put it? Where did you put it!”. I’ll probably use that, but I’m curious: what do you usually do in a case like this? Do you just use “!?” ? what’s your strategy?


#2

What’s your beef with interrobangs?!


#3

“Where did you put it?” he demands angrily.

or

“WHERE DID YOU PUT IT?”

I favor the first one personally. As the story teller, it’s your job to describe the scene as it happens


#4

Do people know about interrobangs‽ Well, this interrobang looks funny.

But to answer your question, it’s less “professionnal” (although I don’t care much about “lack of professionalism”) but more importantly, the character is enraged, and marks at the end of sentences really affect how people “hear” the dialogue.

“It’s all your fault! Where did you put it?”, he asks with anger. (fantom’s suggestion)
vs
"It’s all your fault! Where did you put it!" [dialogue keeps flowing]
vs
"It’s all your fault! Where did you put it ?!" [dialogue keeps flowing]


#5

The ?! looks right to me…


#6

the vast majority of readers will be more accustomed to !? or ?!, but you can definitely end questions with !. it takes some getting used to, and might still be unnatural to some, but it’s fine. anne rice ends questions like that all the time, but i don’t think it’s detracted substantially from most people’s reading experience.

i personally prefer !? out of !? and ?!, since a straight line before a curved one has more impact. to the everyone there to hear it, it is a shout first and a question second, so the exclamation mark before the question mark seems more appropriate.


#7

@Doctor @Moreau @fantom Thank you all for your answers. I decided I’ll o a mix between “Where is it? Tell me where it is!” and the use of “!?”

I appreciate your help. It’s a tiny detail, but one that was bothering me. So thank you!


#8

But… !? looks so wrong to me. Is this possibly a cultural thing? Do you know whether most people in your country interrobang this way?! Because I am interested to know where this discrepancy comes from!!


#9

… d’you know what, i’m not sure! i never paid attention! for me personally, it is more of a shape language thing.

straight shapes are seen as sharp and firm–they’re very structural, and thus powerful. curvy shapes are, by contrast, seen as soft and welcoming. they imply malleability rather than strict rigidity. so, to me, along with the sensory description of it being a shout first and a question second, it makes most sense to interrobang (which, by the way, is a delightful word i’d never heard of before this thread) that way. it also has something to do with echoes and the fact ! takes up less space than ?.

i’m actually sort of equally used to both ways, i just prefer that one. i will keep an eye out for whether we do use !? more than ?!, since you might be onto something there! this is surprisingly interesting.


#10

I think you can use just a ? as long as you imply it’s an angrily voiced (ie “What?” he questions you angrily). You could use “What!” but it’ll read more like a statement than a question and probably isn’t quite as correct gramatically. (It will read more like he already knows the answer, it’s more a statement/rhetorical).

I like “What?!” it seems to give it more impact.

Not sure if ?! or !? is more correct, I tend to see ?! around more often and is what I use myself, !? looks odd to me for some reason. But I don’t think either is incorrect as such as far as I’m aware.


#11

I think it’s correct to use ! for rhetorical questions, eg

How stupid ARE you!

Did you even SEE that I was there!

But when it’s an angry question, I’d use !? or ?!

They feel more natural within a story :smile:

Typically, adverbs and ! are both used sparingly in “good” writing. But it sound like you definitely need something.


#13

That actually sounds good, I’m impressed, and surprised. Threatening more than angry, but threatening regardless.


#14

“Where did you put it?!” or “Where did you put it!?” is wrong, unless you are writing or lettering a comic.

“Where did you put it!” is always wrong (possible exception: really weird poetry).

You can use punctuation to express emotion, but it is rarely a good way to do so. Words are much better at communicating emotion than punctuation. Punctuation is only there to organize the words and make them easier to read.

“Where did you put it‽” is wrong, unless you are some kind of wise ass.


#15

I always use ‘?!’. I don’t know why, it just looks more right to me than ‘!?’.


#16

Sorry for a nitpick here, but as you’re asking about grammar in case it wasn’t a mistake, there’s no comma needed after the speech tag here:

‘“It’s all your fault! Where did you put it?”, he asks with anger.’

As for your actual question, I think the others have pretty much covered it. That said, like others have mentioned, grammar can be twisted and used to serve your ends. It’s to communicate. That’s the primary goal. As such, it can be subjective. Just less so than the actual content of a story.

When it comes to the question you asked, I am in two minds.

  1. I prefer ? because I feel that is more grammatically correct and I’m a stickler for technical details.

  2. On the other hand, if you’re not using much prose and say “What?!” without anything else after it, then the reader should know the person’s shouting. Unless it’s clear from the prior text, you’d need to add ‘he shouted’ or something to make it obvious if you left out the exclamation mark, else the reader might not get the character’s voice is raised.

And well, I probably take it too far, but I’m a firm believer that every word should be necessary. No wasted words.

Edit: Basically, bottom line is I’d prefer a simple ?, but I don’t dislike ?! enough for it to turn me off as I can see a reason for doing it.


#17

For me, if I see; “Where did you put it?”; he yelled. Then the yelling becomes sort of an after-thought and I have to pause to re-imagine the scene. (!?) or (?!) is much more direct.

As a general rule, three of any form of interpunctuation is maximum. Otherwise, you’re legally insane!!!

So; (…), (!!!), (???) are all fine. As are (?!) and (!?). I would like to imagine that the difference between (?!) and (!?) is whether or not the question itself takes priority.

WHAT!? (The question is of little importance compared to conveying the yelling, yet it is a question). In this case, substituting (!?) with (!) would be acceptable, though I personnally prefer (!?) for completeness sake.

WHERE IS HE?! (The question is the important part and thus the question mark comes first).

Anyways that’s just how I see it.


#18

Yes, having the following would be wasted words:

'What?!" he yelled.

There is absolutely no need for it. That said, I see no benefit at all in ???, !!!, and I would caution against doing that. I would also caution against caps. Or well, don’t make caps a habit anyway unless there’s a good reason. I just read as well online that Terry Pratchett, who I’ve never read, uses them for stylistic reasons to indicate when a character, such as Death, speaks.

… is perfectly fine. It’s called an elipses. Generally, I use it when thoughts trail off and such, particularly if a character is sad. – for when someone’s interrupted. (Sometimes, people will type … as . . . though.)


#19

Well I’m not saying that (???) or (!!!) should be used with regularity obviously, but hey if you’re in need for that extra confused or loud expression… Same thing with caps, if it reads well, and conveys emotion that more strongly, great. But they are all spices to be used sparingly for sure.


#20

I know you’re not saying they should be used with regularity, but I don’t see any point in them at all. Full stop. Honestly, if I were to look at a self-published book with that sort of thing in, it would make me question the writer’s talent and whether they’ve pushed it out for a quick buck, especially if I notice typos and such.

I think people should make their writing speak for themselves without adding a lot of needless punctuation marks too.

A few examples, though obviously not perfect:

He clenched his fists. “What?” (When you read that, would you get the impression that the character’s voice might be slightly raised? You’d certainly realise that they’re not too pleased anyway.)

He clenched his fists and said loudly, “What?” (I’d be partial to this example or the first one myself, though I’d possibly pop he said loudly after the speech. When possible, I think the dialog tags should be cut down, stating who’s speaking and such.)

“What?!”

When it comes to the ‘???’, it’s simply not needed as it can be communicated without the three question marks.

Anyhow, I’ll drop it here and I don’t want to try and force my views on people as to how things should be written. Heaven knows I get frustrated with ‘writing rules’ as it is, but I feel technical ‘rules’ have more credence versus non-technical ‘rules’, like avoid cliches, love triangles, waking up from a dream at the start, etc.

PS: Actually, I just realised. This should teach me for glossing over certain things. TheGuardian163 asked: ‘If a character is angry, enraged at the player. But he asks a question: “Where did you put it?”, that doesn’t sound very angry.’

In this situation, I don’t think it’d necessarily be considered a typo if you were to put in an exclamation mark. For instance, if you were to say, “You’re going to the shops?” That’s the person asking. If it’s “You’re going to the shops,” it’s a statement and the person is being told they’re going without any room for argument. Likewise, you could say the character in your example is not ‘asking’, but is ‘demanding’ to know where something was put. Really, when you’re demanding to know where something is, you are asking a question, but . . . are you giving the person much of a choice when it comes to answering? Language is really a funny thing. :slight_smile:


#21

A bit more info on the topic:

Where it is a courtesy question, general practice tends to drop the
question mark. Note, however, that these kinds of sentences (namely,
requests in the form of a question) occur much more frequently in speech than in writing. Question marks, of course, don’t apply to speech, except when it’s transcribed.

For example:

Would you please send us a duplicate copy of that invoice.

Will you please read the transcript back to me.

May we have the pleasure of hearing from you soon.

Can I please look at that book.

(As I said, language is really a funny thing. Yeah, those are phrased as questions as a courtesy, but they’re really demanding it. Like, if your boss was to ask you something like those examples, could you refuse?)