Sometimes there is an interesting effect when you convert a question into a statement, though this does seem somewhat modern. For example,

What the heck.

as opposed to

What the heck?

or even

What the heck!

Or consider this statement:

Clearly this (non-) punctuation (along with the aggressive-looking formatting) has a very different, almost passive-aggressive, effect than

Would you please show your respect ...?

What is the effect by which we modify the meaning of a question by changing it syntactically into a statement?

  • There is no syntactic change here. It is the same thing. – tchrist Jul 16 '14 at 18:37
  • @tchrist Can you explain? – Simon Kuang Jul 16 '14 at 18:43
  • A question is still a question no matters its punctuation. After all, does speech have any punctuation. – tchrist Jul 16 '14 at 18:44
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    @tchrist Not according to English Club: 6. Many polite requests or instructions are made in the form of a question. But because they are not really questions, they do not take a question mark: Could you please send me your catalogue. Would all first-class and business-class passengers now start boarding. RHK Webster's specifies that a question is: a sentence in an interrogative form addressed to someone in order to get information in reply. (emphasis mine) – Edwin Ashworth Jul 16 '14 at 18:55
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    @tchrist I don't accept 'per your education' as as valid an authority as published or online authorities such as Webster's. I'd be far happier with less dogmatic statements such as 'which many would regard as a question'. I don't. Neither do the English Club writers. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 16 '14 at 19:00

It's not a question, it's a request, which is not the same thing.

Phrasing a request like a question is a kind of politeness that uses phrasing ("would you") associated with questions to tone down the commanding nature of telling someone to do something.

A true question requests an answer. Here, no answer is expected; it's behavior that's requested.

"Can you go to the store for me?" is a question, but, "Please go to the store for me" is a request that doesn't get a question mark.


It seems like a simple error to use "Would you" without a trailing question mark. I can’t think of an instance in which that would feel correct, though that’s only my intuition. "Please kindly show your respect..." is perfectly fine.

Therefore I don’t think there is any particular syntactic effect at work aside from the technique of intentional error.

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