Is that your question?

“Based on a true story?” That’s the question that asks:


Of course, that makes no sense, because the entire headline is actually the question. For some reason the editor made a common mistake (at least it’s common on Yahoo!) by placing the question mark before the closing quotation mark. In the U.S., a comma and period go before a closing quotation mark; a semicolon and colon go after. If you’re looking to place a question mark, put it before the closing quote only if the entire text inside the quotation marks is a question. Otherwise, it goes after the closing quote mark.

Guess what’s not a question

Guess what’s not a question. It’s this headline on the home page of Yahoo! TV:

guess ques tv

That’s an imperative sentence starting with guess, which is a command to the reader, not a question.

Prom? Is that your question?

It’s a short question, and it may mean something to a Yahoo! Style reader, but to me it’s nonsense:

prom ques sty hp

Prom? That’s the question? Uh, no. The question is: Are these kids too young to be dressing up for ‘prom’? The entire headline is a question, not just the word in the quotation marks.

Guess what’s not a question

Guess what’s not a question on the home page of Yahoo! Style. This:

guess who sty

It’s not a question, it’s a imperative sentence.

Is this the end?

Is this the end of the “Stupid Punctuation Placements”? Probably not. It’s on the home page of Yahoo! Parenting, where the editor thinks “Post-Baby Bikini Body” is an actual question:

body quest quot par

Surprise! Guess what’s wrong here

No surprise here: Yahoo! Makers makes a mistake. Shocking, no?

guess quest diy

Guess what the mistake is. It’s that question mark at the end of an imperative sentence.

Where did it go?

Where in the world did the question mark go in this headline from Yahoo! Travel?

miss ques tra

Guess where the mistake is

Guess where the mistake is on the home page of Yahoo! Movies.

guess where quest mov

It’s that question mark at the end of an imperative sentence.

There are four kinds of sentences: One is the declarative sentence. Do you know what an interrogative sentence is? Tell me what an imperative sentence is. That’s not an exclamatory sentence!

Readers all scream “Wrong!”

If you’re quoting people who are screaming, you probably want to punctuate the scream with an exclamation mark. And unlike the writer for Yahoo! Shopping, you probably know it belongs inside the quotation marks:

summer excl shop

Why is this so crucial?

Why is there a question mark at the end of this sentence on Yahoo! Makers? And how can a dimmer reduce overall energy output?

energy output

Great questions! The answers lie with a basic misunderstanding of English by the writer. The first has to do with a question embedded in a declarative sentence. The question is: Why is this so crucial? And some style experts would allow a question mark mid-sentence, like this: Why is this so crucial? you might ask. Looks weird to me. A better solution in my mind would be to recast the sentence: You might ask why this is so crucial.

On the second issue, the writer confused the word output with consumption or usage. At least, that’s my charitable view.

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