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Question mark needed or not?

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vickiwatson

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Do I need a question mark at the end of the sentence below? I'm thinking not. The person is not really asking a question, but making a suggestion.

Why don’t you two explore until I get back.
#1 - August 26, 2012, 11:42 AM

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I would put a question mark. It may be a suggestion but it's phrased as a question. I wouldn't put a question mark if it was "You two could explore until I get back."
#2 - August 26, 2012, 12:01 PM
Harold Underdown

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I think it depends on how you want the sentence to be interpreted. Without a question mark, it's a parental command, phrased in a gentler manner than "Go explore until I get back." With a question mark, the person is giving them the choice to say "no." Laurie
#3 - August 26, 2012, 12:08 PM
Laurie Wallmark
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Yes, I agree with Harold. The "why" asks a question, essentially, "why don't you two explore?"
#4 - August 26, 2012, 12:10 PM
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vickiwatson

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I could just rephrase it, but the character is definitely not asking a question and expecting a response as to why or why not the other characters may or may not want to explore. :)
#5 - August 26, 2012, 12:19 PM

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How about stating just that?

Like: "why don't you two explore until I get back?"

And just the way she said it, we knew she wasn't asking a question.
#6 - August 26, 2012, 12:58 PM
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CLAYTON STONE, AT YOUR SERVICE
Holiday House, 2015
CLAYTON STONE, FACING OFF
Holiday House, 2016

I don't think it needs a question mark. If you leave it the way you've written it, you imply what you want to imply - that your character is giving an order, masked as a suggestion. The lack of a question mark emphasizes that, I think.
#7 - August 26, 2012, 02:00 PM

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My copyeditors have always put the question mark into lines like that (when I didn't, which was most of the time anyway). :)
#8 - August 26, 2012, 02:40 PM
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I'm with HaroldU, Mrs. Jones, and Joni's copyeditors on voting for the question mark. In addition to the other points made, it would eliminate the potential of pulling readers slightly out of the story by having them wonder, "Wait, if she just asked a question, why isn't there a question mark?" I think our brains are just trained to expect a sentence that starts with "Why" to end with a question mark, unless it's an exclamation.
Fwiw...
#9 - August 26, 2012, 04:29 PM

vickiwatson

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The book is aimed at 8 to 12 y.o.'s. I don't know if that makes a difference one way or another. I'm not sure many of them would pay any attention to what the punctuation was.
#10 - August 26, 2012, 05:11 PM

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I'm Team No-Question Mark. People talk like this all the time, and I can hear the tone of voice by the choice of punctuation. Of course kids have heard this. Laurie stated it well.
#11 - August 26, 2012, 05:18 PM
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ritajr

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I believe it needs a question mark.
#12 - August 26, 2012, 08:03 PM

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I vote for the question mark.
#13 - August 26, 2012, 08:42 PM
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Or, as you said, change the actual wording. Like, "You two could explore until I get back."
#14 - August 27, 2012, 05:11 AM
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CLAYTON STONE, FACING OFF
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AdamV

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Technically, you don't need a question mark for a request like that, but it's not unusual to see one. 
#15 - August 27, 2012, 07:07 AM

vickiwatson

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Thanks everyone :)
#16 - August 27, 2012, 03:42 PM

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One last observation -- In print, I have often seen a sentence like yours, a question without a question mark, followed by the sentence "It was not a question," underscoring that the line was more of an order than it appeared to be, and that a question mark had not been left off by mistake.
#17 - August 28, 2012, 06:45 AM
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