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I recently received a mark-down for the following phrase:

With this regard, will you please accept the Takeover agreement on this quote so that we can proceed with the validation process?

The quality evaluator (I work with a Customer Service Team) told me that the use of a question mark in this sentence is incorrect.

Is his evaluation correct, and why?

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OP's sentence is a form of rhetorical question, which doesn't expect an answer as such - it simply expects compliance with a request. In fact, the words "will you" should really be discarded as well as the question mark. It's hard to be sure without the full context, but IMHO "With this regard" is almost certainly a clumsy phrasing which should also be discarded or reworded. –  FumbleFingers Jan 9 '12 at 18:27
I can definitely say that "The quality evaluator (I work with a Customer Service Team) told me that the use of a question mark in this sentence is incorrect" should NOT have a question mark after it...a self-referential typo. –  JeffSahol Jan 9 '12 at 18:35
I agree with FumbleFingers. Another round the difficulty is by saying 'We'd be grateful if you would accept the Takeover agreement . . .' –  Barrie England Jan 9 '12 at 18:42
The sentence is correct as worded; without the question mark, it is incorrect English. –  tchrist Jan 9 '12 at 20:37

2 Answers 2

Your ‘quality evaluator’ (whatever that may be), is wrong. The short story is that all formulaically interrogative sentences in English always take a question mark. it doesn’t matter whether it is a rhetorical question, a polite request, or an honest inquiry that expects an answer.

In English, polite requests still use a question mark, even though you are not expecting a verbal response:

  • Will you step this way, please?
  • Could you please pass me the sugar?
  • Would you show me your ID, sir?
  • May I please have another?

Those are all interrogative sentences, not imperative ones. Corresponding imperative versions might perhaps be:

  • Step this way, please.
  • Please pass me the sugar.
  • Show me your ID, sir.
  • Give me another, if you please.

As you see, if you want to skip the question mark, you have to use an imperative not an interrogative.

However, some writers feel that when polite requests are nested in an if conditional, that they do not necessarily require the question mark:

  • If you would be so kind to step this way, Madame.

Other writers feel that writing that way is either wrong, or that it’s a bit pushy, so you might use the question mark anyway there:

  • If you would be so kind to step this way, Madame?

I’d guess that the version with the question mark is standard English, but that the one without it may not be.

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A side question (I will start a new question if it is better). So "Would you show me your ID, sir" is interrogative because of syntax (the presence of the question mark) and is not imperative (even though pragmatically it is imperative)? –  demongolem Feb 22 '13 at 18:44

Considering what we can see of the context, this should be a rhetorical question as @FumbleFingers commented. You are telling them to accept the agreement in order to continue.

The question mark implies that the question is not rhetorical, and that you think the answer could be "no", and you are waiting for their reply. It is valid English but not valid CustomerServicese.

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Wait, when you write a rhetorical question you don't put a question mark? I do. –  Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Jan 9 '12 at 18:56

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