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Should a rhetorical question end with a question mark?

Should a rhetorical question end with a question mark?

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Hairy Scot November 14, 2015, 10:08pm

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There are three choices: question mark, period (full stop), or exclamation mark, depending on the intonation required.

Punctuation is there to show how the sentence is to be read, denoting pauses, intonation, interpolations and so forth.
Many rhetorical questions need a rising intonation at the end, so a question mark is appropriate. Sometimes a falling intonation is sought with a period (full stop). Try saying the following out loud and notice how the intonation changes:
To be, or not to be ?
To be, or not to be !
To be, or not to be.
To be or, not to be ??

jayles the unwoven November 15, 2015, 9:52am

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BTW when I started skool (and dinos roamed the earth) one of the beginner classes was named "2B", so we said:
2B, or not 2B?
Note the different pron!

jayles the unwoven November 15, 2015, 9:59am

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There was at least one attempt to introduce a special typographical symbol for this case but it did not succeed. See

Mmm December 24, 2015, 12:15pm

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In general, yes. But it is a little more complicated. If a question (also a rhetorical question) is an "indirect question", you can not use a question mark. Example: “The officer asked why I was speeding.” The sentence refers to a time that someone was asked a question. This sentence not a question, and a period is used.

Now look at this sentence: “We will leave at 7 p.m., won’t we?”
“We will leave at 7 p.m.” is a declarative sentence, that would end in a period. But, “won’t we?” makes it a question, and the use of a question is needed. This also applies to rhetorical questions.

Another example: “Will everyone please give their full attention to the speaker.” This sentence ends in a period, though technically this sentence is a question, but the speaker is actually saying “please give your attention to the speaker“. The request is formal, and the speaker is not looking to get a response. It's not like “Will you please be quiet?”, and the answer could be “Yes, we will.” It is a formal way of saying: Be quiet, the speaker is talking.” In formal requests (also rhetorical ones), we use a period at the end of a sentence rather than a question mark.

So, question marks are used at the end of sentence that are questions. More information can be found here:

Kevin44 January 12, 2016, 3:41am

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Yes     No