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Question mark or not?

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  • katiebalmer
    10 October, 2007 at 15:28
    • Total posts: 1

    When writing a question which is requesting action and not information, do you put a question mark at the end?

    e.g. Please would you circulate this email to the rest as the staff (?)

    Sue Swift
    10 October, 2007 at 16:48
    • Total posts: 26

    Reply To: request for action not information – question mark or not

    Personally I often tend not to, as I would argue that eg Can you open your books at page 200 / Would you please return this form by 5th November are not questions in any but the strictly formal sense (ie they have interrogative form). They certainly don’t function as questions – they’re orders.

    However, I would use a question mark in a request if I thought that the answer might be "no", however. For instance in an E-mail: David, I’m on nights next week but I want to go to the Stones concert. Would you swop shifts with me? It’s a request, but it’s also a real question.

    How do you do is another example of the same sort of thing. Formally it’s a question, functionally it isn’t, and therefore the ? tends to be dropped.

    For articles on ELT methodology and practical activities – http://eltnotebook.blogspot.com

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