Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Although "who knows" is almost as an expression for giving sense however, expressions can be statements, orders, and questions, so does the expression: "who knows" need a question mark?

share|improve this question
1  
Who knows if it needs a question mark... ;^) –  J.R. Jun 28 '13 at 16:10
    
There are a lot of related questions on this topic; try searching this site for "question mark". –  MετάEd Jun 28 '13 at 16:21
    
related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/71193/… –  MετάEd Jun 28 '13 at 17:25
    
@J.R. Certainly not an ellipsis! –  Wayfaring Stranger Apr 8 at 12:42
add comment

2 Answers

"Who knows?" is an example of a rhetorical question, because it is really a statement that does not actually ask for an answer.

The consensus is that it's sometimes OK to skip question marks for rhetorical question. Some people will say you shouldn't ever skip a question mark for a rhetorical question, and no one minds if you use a question mark, so I suggest that you do. (Personally, rhetorical questions without question marks always throw me off -- John Grisham has a habit of doing this and it causes me to read these sentences in a weird, sarcastic tone)

Here is more information from Wikipedia:

Depending on the context, a rhetorical question may be punctuated by a question mark (?), full stop (.), or exclamation mark (!),[6] but some sources argue that it is best to use a question mark for any question, rhetorical or not.[7]

share|improve this answer
    
How dare you say that? –  Kaiser Octavius Jun 28 '13 at 16:15
    
How dare you say that! –  Edwin Ashworth Jun 28 '13 at 16:19
1  
@EdwinAshworth I think you just invalidated my answer, but I'm not sure why. –  Jeremy Jun 28 '13 at 16:38
1  
To be fair, I was just spelling out KO's KO. –  Edwin Ashworth Jun 28 '13 at 17:00
1  
Clever, @EdwinAshworth! But no I don't think this invalidates the answer. It isn't really a rhetorical question with the exclamation mark; it becomes something else. An exclamation, in fact. –  Cyberherbalist Jun 28 '13 at 17:03
show 1 more comment

Yes, you have to put a question mark for "Who knows?" simply because MacMillan Dictionary has done so in a similar example.

See for yourself: who knows/cares/wants/needs etc SPOKEN used for saying that you do not know/care etc, and you think that no one else does 'Won't Terry be upset?' 'Who cares? He never thinks about anyone but himself.'

Link: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/who#who-knows-cares-wants-needs-etc

share|improve this answer
2  
"Simply because"? I don't think any dictionary should be treated with such reverence. –  Chenmunka Apr 8 at 11:19
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.