What is the correct punctuation for an indirect question?

22
2014-07
  • Denys S.

    I'm wondering how it is correct to structure sentence and what punctuation should be used. In particular, is the next sentence correct:

    I was wondering if there's any progress on the issue.

    Or should I put a question mark in the end of it. Also, can it be restructured to:

    I was wondering: is there any progress on the issue?

  • Answers
  • The Raven

    You do not need a question mark because the sentence is what is called an "indirect question."

    Indirect questions do not close with a question mark but with a period. Like direct questions they demand a response, but they are expressed as declarations without the formal characteristics of a question.

    More explanation here.

  • Robusto

    Either of your examples is fine. You don't need a question mark in the first one and shouldn't use one there.

  • Shathur

    Even though both of them are correct, I'd prefer the first of them in almost every case. Indirect questions are quite handy, since you don't need to change intonation or actually make the sentence look, talk and walk like a question (which is slightly more work than not). Plus, the second sentence is a break, both mentally and linguistically. It's less natural and does have a reverse order (though that might be good too in some situations).

  • RegDwigнt

    Indirect questions should end with a question mark only when they begin with a question-asking word (i.e. could, would, do, etc.).

    In your case, a period should be used, as your inquiry is written as a statement (not starting with a question-asking word).

    Your second example is fine, but uncommon and unnecessarily formal.

  • billynomates

    Personally I'd prefer:

    I was wondering if there has been any progress on the issue.

    Or if you want to ask a question:

    Has there been any progress on this issue?


  • Related Question

    punctuation - What is the best way to punctuate a list of questions in a declarative sentence?
  • Daniel

    In my report a need to write a list of example questions that someone might ask, but I would like to do it in a sentence rather than a separate list. Here is an example:

    This poses questions such as "How should I punctuate it?", "Are the quotes necessary?", "Are the commas in the correct place?", and "Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?"


  • Related Answers
  • Scott Mitchell

    I'd use a bulleted list and drop the quotation marks, like so:

    This poses questions such as:

    • How should I punctuate it?
    • Are the quotes necessary?
    • Are the commas in the correct place?
    • Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?

    Such formatting would look out of place in a novel or other prose, but would look very natural online or in some technical document. While I may be a product of my time, I think bulleted lists are an excellent way to break up a list of items and does so without a bunch of cluttering punctuation.

    In cases where a bulleted list would be out of place, I'd suggest using a colon and ditching the quotation marks, like so:

    This poses questions such as: How should I punctuate it? Are the quotes necessary? Are the commas in the correct place? Should I have used a colon, or a semi-colon?

  • MετάEd

    Quotation marks are not required in lists of questions within a sentence unless they are a direct quote. Rhetorical, self posed, or internal questions only require a question mark. For example:

    She thought Shall I go to work? To the mall? Home?

  • Joel Spolsky

    There is a rule that says if a question appears in direct quotation and this immediately ends in a sentence, the question mark should be preserved and the period omitted.

  • msh210

    The way you have it is good. But if you're supposed to be following some house style, then read the manual.