If I were to write a sentence beginning with a question, where would the question mark go? It does not seem right at the end of the sentence.

For example:

Was there something changed recently because internet shouldn't be dropping this low, even for a small plan.

The format of the sentence doesn't feel right having a question mark at the end and it does look right having one at the end of question:

Was there something changed recently? because internet shouldn't be dropping this low, even for a small plan.

What is the correct way to format a question like this?

  • Thou shalt avoid beginning a sentence with because. – Blessed Geek Apr 20 '14 at 7:35
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    @BlessedGeek because why? That is not a rule of English grammar. – RegDwigнt Apr 20 '14 at 7:52
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    @Reg Because BG says so. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 20 '14 at 12:52

If you feel the punctuation is 'off', you are probably writing the way you speak. We often ask questions at the beginning of what ends up being more of a declarative sentence, because, if it were written out, it would actually be:

Was there something changed recently? Because internet shouldn't be dropping this low, even for a small plan.

That's why it takes more thought to write than to speak.

If you want to write very informally to friends in a text or similar venue, no one will arrest you for doing just as you have suggested here. However, if you're going to write where it's a bit more important how you present yourself, you'll just have to be aware that your punctuation is not usually used.

You can either write it as two separate sentences, or rephrase the sentence so that your question comes at the end.

The internet shouldn't be dropping this low, even for a small plan; has something changed recently?

When you write your own book (or blog/whatnot), if you don't care what people think of your writing, you can punctuate (or not) however you like. Jonathan Coe's The Rotters Club, published in 2001, contains a sentence with 13,955 words. I don't know how it's punctuated.

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    A company I was advising was once presented with a legal document to sign, by a bank, which contained a 'sentence' which ran for about three and a half pages. At least I could not find a full stop anywhere in that space. Naturally it was totally unintelligible. When I protested I was told that it was a 'standard document', and the bank could give no advice on the meaning. They suggested if we didn't like it we had better go elsewhere for the facilities. The company, in desperate straits signed. To this day I wonder what a judge would have made of it had it ever come in front of one. – WS2 Apr 20 '14 at 7:31
  • @WS2 - legalese... unbelievable! In our country, it is now supposed to make sense to the average reader. It still doesn't. – anongoodnurse Apr 20 '14 at 8:13

This is called an indirect question and it is typically terminated with a period instead of a question mark. Personally I would never divide the statement into two by adding a question mark, and I think most style guides would agree.

Source: Garner's Modern American Usage or, for those online, this.

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    The sentence above is not an indirect question. In an indirect question there is no subject-verb inversion. The OP's statement started out with a direct question: Was there something... Example of an indirect question: "And Lofton, well, she asked how we could tell which strangers we were allowed to harass and which ones we weren't." If you re-read your source, you will see the definition and examples. – anongoodnurse Apr 20 '14 at 7:14

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