Guess what’s not a question

Why would anyone think that this headline on Yahoo! Shine is a question?

guess whos coming quest shine

That’s actually an imperative sentence: An imperative sentence gives an instruction, an order, a command, or a request. In this case, the writer is requesting that you guess who’s coming to the gala.

No, thanks. I’m allergic

Nuts? No, thanks.

Maybe you weren’t asking if I wanted some of that salty stuff. Maybe you were trying to ask an entirely different question. But, the truth is, the folks at yahoo.com were asking: Nuts?

fp nuts

Why can’t they remember that if the words inside the quotation marks form a question, then the question mark goes inside, too? It’s a common mistake at Yahoo!, and it just drives me nuts.

Is that your question?

Parking ticket? That’s quite a question, and even though it makes no sense, that’s what this headline on Yahoo! News asks:

ticket quest news

It’s a common error on Yahoo!, but I can’t figure out why. It’s so illogical. The only explanation I can think of: In the U.S., commas and periods go before a closing quotation mark. So, maybe Yahoo!’s writers think all punctuation marks go before a closing quote mark. It just ain’t so. If a question mark applies to the words inside the quotation marks, it goes inside the quotation marks, too.  Pretty simple, no?

How is that a question?

It seems that whenever a headline starts with the word how, the writers for Yahoo! Shine automatically think it’s a question:

questionmark shine

How is that a question?

Guess who thinks that’s a question

Guess! Who thinks those are questions?

fp question mark

The writers/editors who work on the Yahoo! front page. Guess who’s wrong. The writers/editors who work on the Yahoo! front page. The two headlines that begin with Guess are imperative sentences, not interrogative sentences.

Should you give this writer a ‘performance review’?

If you were reviewing the performance of the writer of this headline on Yahoo! Shine, what grade would you give?

quest mark shine

Knowing where to place punctuation should be a basic requirement of any headline writer. I’d give the writer an F for the placement of the question mark (it belongs after the closing quotation mark). But I’d award some bonus points just for knowing that a question mark is required.

Do you know where the punctuation goes?

… and where the punctuation went? There seems to be a few things wrong here on the Yahoo! front page. Can you spot them?

fp do you watch

First, there are two single quotation marks (looking a lot like apostrophes), the location of which makes no sense. Then there’s that question mark placed to indicate that the question is: The Hunger Games? Does that sound like a question to you? So, there’s that. And there’s only one double quotation mark. Those things always come in pairs, don’t they? So where’s the other one?

Is that your question?

Grinding? What the heck kind of question is that? It’s the kind of question you find on Yahoo! Shine, where the writers and editors have no idea where a question mark goes:

grinding quest shine

If the word or words within quotation marks is a question, then the question mark goes before the closing quotation mark. Otherwise, it goes after the closing quotation mark. What is so hard about that “rule”?

What’s your blind spot?

Some writers have blind spots. They make the same mistake over and over again. The blind spot for this writer from Yahoo! Shine is proper nouns. She ignores the fact that Jolly Rancher needs two capital letters:

cost 1

Refusing to capitalize French is the height of brazenness, non?

cost 2

I could talk until I’m blue in the face, but this writer still wouldn’t know that Smurf should be capitalized, too:

cost 3

That thing you’re looking at right now? It’s a typo. Followed by a missing space and a missing word and a misplaced question mark:

cost 4

So, maybe this writer has more than one blind spot.

Obamacare? Is that your question?

Will Yahoo! News writers stop putting the question mark in the wrong place? Probably not:

obamacare quest news

If the question is “Obamacare,” then the question mark belongs before the closing quotation mark. But it isn’t, so the question mark should go after the closing quote.

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