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Mike: Hey, Matt?

Matt: Yeah?

Mike: What are you doing?

Since it's not actually a question, I'm not sure if a question mark should be used or not. But I'm also not just saying 'hey' to someone; there's more to come. I know if you were to greet and ask a question of someone before their response, you'd use a period like this:

"Hey, Matt. What are you doing?"

but I'm not sure what punctuation to use in this instance.

  • One very common way to indicate that a person is saying something to attract someone's attention is to punctuate it with an exclamation point: "Hey, Matt!" – Sven Yargs Jun 24 '17 at 19:57
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To the extent that a question is something that solicits an answer, I think this is a question. It's basically a stand-in for a question along the lines of "Are you listening?", "Are you ready to hear what I'm about to tell you?" or something else of that nature.

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Since it's not actually a question, I'm not sure if a question mark should be used or not.

For this type of conversation, I can't tell you. It's so informal by nature that the parties only need to be able to understand one another.

The person is probably writing it with a question mark because the intonation in their head was rising, indicating a question.

At the same time, it may well actually be a question, which I'll explain in a bit.

I know if you were to greet and ask a question of someone before their response, you'd use a period like this: "Hey, Matt. What are you doing?," but I'm not sure what punctuation to use in this instance.

This is the beauty of English; there are several ways to punctuate that, some leaving the sentence in question as statement, while others will show that it is a question. For example:

Hey, Matt. What are you doing?,

This is fine. One greeting and one separate question

Hey Matt, what are you doing?, Fine too. Hey Matt is a greeting or an interjection/greeting, so you can make it all one sentence (Hint: Hello is an interjection).

If you're just writing Hey [Hello] Matt, then it's not really a question and would require an exclamation point or a period.

This is such informal writing that anything you choose should be fine.

One final word, as I said above, many people do this because they want their written words to sound as if they were speaking them. So sometimes question marks are used, as I've said, to signal a rising pitch toward the end. One might do this if the statement is ambiguous or can be misconstrued.

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    I'm quite happy about the use of the question mark to indicate a querying implication (and tone in speech), though some people would be more prescriptive. 'Yeah/Yes' requires a question mark, even though it is obviously not a complete sentence (interrogative or otherwise), because it is a tacit request for more information from Mike. Similarly, a question mark after 'Hey, Matt' shows that this utterance is an uncompleted request for information. 'Hey, Matt!' need not be. And 'Matt?' could mean 'WHAT are you doing?' or 'Is it really you, Matt?' – Edwin Ashworth Nov 22 '13 at 23:56
  • @EdwinAshworth I'm not sure that we disagree here. My comments were mainly for an informal audience, if for no other reason than hey is extremely informal. Punctuation shouldn't matter here. While I'd agree that yeah/yes? requires a question mark, I'd argue that that's because it is the shortened form of the extremely formal: Yes, what is it? or Yes, what can I do for you? In informal conversation, complete sentences are often reduced to mutually understood fragments. – Giambattista Nov 23 '13 at 21:47
  • Yes – it's well known that accurately encapsulating speech+ in writing are nigh-on impossible. 'Sir Ian McKellen can convey more by simply raising one eyebrow than many actors can ...' 'What liberties may be taken with punctuation to try to bridge the gap' is a question the answer to which different schools do not see eye to eye on. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 25 '13 at 0:10

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