I'm confused as to if

do we actually know where we are going any more

is a question or not, because of the 'do' I think yes but when read it seems like a sentence.

  • 4
    It could be rhetorical but it is a question. – mplungjan Jul 31 '14 at 7:56
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    OK thank you, really threw me, was reading a newsletter and it had no question mark and I had to find out haha, thank you :) – IBTrey Jul 31 '14 at 7:56
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    Maybe some more context would explain the origin of your confusion... As you quoted it, without capitalisation, without any interpunction, it could be "an example phrase from a textbook that is not intended as an actual question"... – oerkelens Jul 31 '14 at 8:08
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    the context is a newsletter directed towards managers and saying how the financial woes are dispersing, do we actually know where we are going any more. However, re-reading that I realsised it's incorrect grammatically, should be a but before the do and I'm guessing thats what threw me – IBTrey Jul 31 '14 at 8:25
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    Yes, it is a question. – Fattie Jul 31 '14 at 8:38

Apart from the gut reaction "yes, it is a question because, um, it just is", we can actually approach this systematically. The sentence exhibits three characteristics that are of interest to us:

  1. It says "do... know" rather than just "know",
  2. it says "do we" rather than "we do",
  3. and last but not least, it begins with a verb.

Each of these by itself can occur in a number of different scenarios:

  1. "Do... know" could be an emphatic do ("I do like this"), or it could be an auxilliary do (do-support), and the latter could indicate a question ("Do we know?") or a negation ("We do not know").
  2. "Do we" (subject–auxiliary inversion) could indicate a question ("Do we know?"), or negative polarity when there's a fronted adverbial that is a negative trigger ("Never/seldom/under no circumstances do we know").
  3. A verb at the beginning could indicate a question ("Do we know?") or an imperative ("Do this now!") or a simple ellipsis ("I like whistling. Do it all the time.")

As you can see for yourself, the only scenario in which all three meet is a question.

  • Oh, and just for the sake of completeness: the omitted but you mentioned has no bearing on any of this. It's just a conjunction, and you can slap one of those onto the beginning of any sentence in any of those scenarios. "But I do like this". "But do we know?", "But we do not know", "But never do we know...", "But do this now!", "I hate whistling. But do it all the time." – RegDwigнt Jul 31 '14 at 19:41

Yes, it's a question. It begins with a word that can either be a question or an imperative/command, but the context of the statement, there is no action to take: "Do this task." versus "Do we do this task?"

  • This is basically right, but very poorly worded. You are really just looking for the terms do-support and inversion. – RegDwigнt Jul 31 '14 at 18:50

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