Grammar Tip – Exclamation Marks Versus Question Marks

BizWritingTip reader: “In a previous BizWritingTip, you ended it with ‘Having fun yet!’ Shouldn’t this have a question mark at the end rather than an exclamation mark?”

BizWritingTip response: This is a great question! Question marks are used for questions – real and rhetorical. (A rhetorical question does not require an answer.)

Examples

Can you please send me the figures by Friday?
Can you believe this weather?
Wouldn’t you like to be in her shoes?

Note: If the first part of the sentence is a rhetorical question and the last part is a statement, use a period at the end.

Example

Would you please review the findings, so we can discuss them at the next meeting.

An exclamation mark indicates excitement, surprise, disbelief, or astonishment.

Examples

What a great presentation!
Congratulations!

In addition, you may use an exclamation mark instead of a question mark when you want to express a strong feeling.

Examples

Why did you do that!
Can you believe that ad!

I use “Having fun yet!” whenever I think my readers or workshop participants may be feeling overwhelmed. I am trying to lighten a frustrating time with a little “shock therapy,” and I don’t really expect an answer.

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