Professor Tashman

End Punctuation

End Punctuation

The period

Most sentences end with a period. Some, however, end with a question mark or an exclamation point.

Sentences that report a question, rather than stating a direct question, should end with a period, not a question mark.

Wrong:

She spotted him at the end of the bar, nursing  a martini and staring at her, and she asked him if he liked to travel and if he liked sex?

Correct:

She spotted him at the end of the bar, nursing a martini and staring at her, and she asked him if he liked to travel and if he liked sex.

Do not end a sentence with an exclamation if you are not really exclaiming.

Wrong:

There ought to be time limit, he thought to himself, on how long a fella has to wait while his girl tries on denim cut-offs at Century 21!

Nothing in the above sentence indicates that he is exclaiming or overly emotional.

There ought to be time limit, he thought to himself, on how long a fella has to wait while his girl tries on denim cut-offs at Century 21.

The question mark

Use a question mark when a sentence is a direct question.

Should a gentleman offer a Gispert Corona to a lady?

Baxter, do you honestly think it was a good idea to chair the stockholders meeting wearing a six-inch Afro wig tied with an Indian print head scarf?

Again: do not use a question mark after a question that is reported:

He asked me if I thought I could continue shooting street Heroin without getting strung out.

You can ask a series of questions, using question marks, even if they are not complete sentences.

And if you go to rehab, where will you hide your shit? Under the pillow? Behind the toilet? Up your rectum?

The exclamation point

When you write a sentence that conveys great emotion or emphasis, use an exclamation point.

“And I will strike down upon those with great vengeance and with furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers,” Jules exclaims in the movie Pulp Fiction, just before killing the hapless druggies, “And you will know that my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee!”

Although Jules is quoting Ezekiel 25:17 (from the Hebrew Bible) which does not use the exclamation point, he clearly transforms the quote into an exclamation.

Do not overuse the exclamation point, lest you sound like a breathless eighth-grader.

Oh my God! Oh my God! OMG! Jose sat next to me at lunch! And offered me his pizza square? Which usually makes me puke? But his eyes are so cute and his hair so fine that the pizza square tasted better than a Premium Crispy Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich from Mickey D’s! LOL! I got so lost in those eyes I need a super high-beam flashlight and some Pentagon satellite tracking GPS to find my way out! Help!

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