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This may be related to a general grammar rule, but which of these is correct?

I wonder if Steve Jobs will be giving the keynote speech at WWDC this year?


I wonder if Steve Jobs will be giving the keynote speech at WWDC this year.

My hunch tells me the question mark is incorrect, but I find myself instinctively wanting to add it. Is there a rule about this type of situation?

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Your hunch is correct. Bryan Garner writes:

Writers sometimes err by putting a question mark after an indirect question, especially one beginning with I wonder.

Garner's Modern American Usage

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+1 Note that the question mark can be OK in short, very informal writing, like text messages and chat, though probably not in e-mail. – Cerberus Mar 28 '11 at 23:52
This doesn't sound right. I don't think any novel writer would fail to place the question mark at the end of "I wonder if Steve Jobs will be giving the keynote speech at WWDC this year?" if the utterance is being pictured as a question that is inviting a response from the next person speaking in the dialogue. Leaving out the question mark in that kind of example would be really weird, even though grammatically it is still an indirect question. – Merk Sep 9 '13 at 9:50

If you are asking a question, then yes. If you are simply telling people what you are wondering about than it isn't a question and it should not have a question mark.

Some examples to help clarify:

I often wonder about the future.

I wonder what is for breakfast.

I wonder... who is that?

People will often say phrases like these as asking a question but its usage can be considered awkward for written English.

I am curious about your name?

That is pie?

And you are?

The question marks here are more flagging the intonation we use in everyday speech. You can also use an elipsis:

And you are...

Your name is...

On tests you will see a blank line:

The answer is _____________

But for "I wonder..." I would stick to a period/full stop. When you say it out loud, feel free to say it much like you ask a question.

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protected by RegDwigнt Oct 7 '12 at 17:04

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