Question Mark Mistakes With Easy Edits

Posted On: August 3, 2013

The right way to use a question mark

In addition to understanding how to use the full stop (period), it is equally important to understand how and when to use the question mark.  

When asked to correct e-mails, reports, and other written forms of communication penned by IT professionals in Kerala, the second fault I find in punctuation usage is the use of the question mark. 

Four Common Question Mark Mistakes With Easy Edits

1. The use of the full stop instead of a question mark at the end of a question.
Example: Where can I find the petrol pump.  
Quick Fix Tip: Use the question mark instead. 
Solution: Where can I find the petrol pump? 
Take note: Most statements that begin with question words (who, when, where, why, what, how) will require a question mark at the end. If the statement is a question, it needs a question mark at the end of the statement. 

2. The use of the the question mark and the full stop together
Example: Where can I find the petrol pump?.  OR  Where can I find the petrol pump.? 
Quick Fix Tip:
Only use the question mark. 

Solution: Where can I find the petrol pump?3. No punctuation

Example: Where can I find the petrol pump 
Quick Fix Tip: Use the question mark.  
Solution: Where can I find the petrol pump?  
Take Note: All statements (complete sentences) in written English require a punctuation mark at the end.

4. Spacing problems
Example: Where can I find the petrol pump
This is very common among some Indian writers of English. For instance, see this post on LinkedIn – the author puts spaces between the word and the question mark as well as extra spaces when using parenthesis ().
Quick Fix Tip: Remove the space before the question mark. Leave one space after the question mark before the start of the next statement. This is similar to how to space full stops.
Solution: Where can I find the petrol pump? It is at the next junction. 

These tips will help you to write English with better clarity and confidence. The reader of your words will also be able to read and understand your messages with more confidence and fluency. 
Author Jennifer Kumar is a American culture coach and English language specialist helping Indians communicate with more clarity with their US counterparts. Contact her today for more information about training your corporate groups. 

Past Feedback: 

“I met Jennifer Kumar, Soft Skill Expert, a few months back. Her methodologies of training and coaching are excellent. She is very fast in understanding the need of the client. Jennifer’s sessions really assisted to improve my communication skills. The coaching sessions are highly focused on the goals set prior to the start of the sessions. The training materials provided are very useful and it is a ready reference tool to enhance language skills. I have hired her on two continuous engagements for soft skills. The sessions covered vocabulary, synonyms, importance of active voice, articles, punctuation, and sentence and paragraph rewriting skills.

The skills learned through the sessions give more confidence now in handling the day-to-day communications. I thank Jennifer for the valuable sessions, which have added more value to my everyday communications. She has a great deal of business understanding and expertise. With her knowledge and compassion she moves her clients to the next level with ease. I would highly recommend any company or individual to use her services”  

Manager, Cinil, Logistics, Kochi

Related Posts: 
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