You’ll Learn To Love The Interrobang

Interrobang is exclamation point and quetion mark merged into oneWhen you want to express query along with either outrage or extreme surprise or excitement, both the question mark and the exclamation point let you down.

Combining a question mark with an exclamation point yields the interrobang, a form of punctuation that has been around since 1962 but has yet to really catch on.

The Economist, of all publications, featured the interrobang in October 2014, explaining that a mere question mark does not always suffice.

What else but the interrobang fully expresses the emotion of these statements?

Can you believe she replied, “No, I’m not a Badger fan”?!

Are you saying that Taylor Swift will be performing here in June?!

She shouted, “Can’t you tell I’m angry?!”

“What do you want me to do?!” she screamed.

Note that the interrobang is placed outside of the quotation marks in the first example, as it goes with the query that precedes the quoted statement. The interrobang goes inside the quotation marks in the third and last examples, as it goes with the quoted statement.

Interrobangs and other such oddities are special gifts to ruthless editors who love all things grammatical. Bring on the Trivia game!

I’ll bet you won’t be surprised to know that spellcheck not only does not recognize interrobang as an authentic punctuation mark; it instructs you to replace each interrobang with simply a question mark. Silly, boring spellcheck.

What grammar oddities capture your fancy?

Kathy Watson
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Kathy Watson

Kathy has a love/hate relationship with grammar; she loves words and the punctuation that helps them make sense, yet she hates those pesky rules. A self-proclaimed ruthless editor, she prefers standard usage guidelines of The Associated Press Stylebook. Her easy-to-use Grammar for People Who Hate Rules helps people write and speak with authority and confidence. She encourages and welcomes questions and comments. (Email)

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Kathy Watson
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