My teacher gave us a dialogue the other day and the boy said he was playing in a band so his friend said : Oh, that must be exciting! So you are going to be famous ? Then she gave us a question : What does "So you are going to be famous ?" express? She said it expressed inquiring for information but I don't agree with her. An information is something concrete isn't it? But this boy doesn't know yet if he is going to be famous or not and she was saying that in an excited voice. So please what does it express?

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, TimLymington, Drew, tchrist, Chenmunka Oct 29 '14 at 10:14

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2
    This seems like more a subjective discussion of how human conversation works rather than the rules of language. The statement "So you are going to be famous?" is indeed a question that can be responded to, for example, with "Yes, we are the opening act in tomorrow's big concert!" or "No, because it's just a school gig." "So you're going to be famous!" could also just be an exclamation where no actual response is expected, but someone is just expressing their amazement that someone is getting famous. I guess it depends on context. – Jeremy Oct 28 '14 at 19:32
  • 3
    Any question at all, by definition, is asking for information. With the exception of rhetorical questions — again, by definition. Whether or not the question at hand is rhetorical can only be determined by asking the person who produced it. Both you and your teacher were actually there and have all the context, and even the two of you can't agree. So we most definitely cannot tell. We can post the answer "yes" and the answer "no" and vote on them, so you'll have a straw poll of a random bunch of people off the Internet who weren't even there when it happened. Quite pointless. Ask the friend. – RegDwigнt Oct 28 '14 at 19:41
  • A rhetorical question, by the way, is the kind of question a public speaker might ask during a speech he or she is giving. Generally, the speaker does not expect an answer from the audience (though a preacher in a church service might want to get an "amen" from the congregation), and the speaker might actually consider their participation a disruption, causing him to lose focus! This is less true of rhetorical questions in interpersonal communication, in which questions are not a search for information, they're just phatic communion; that is, words that increase sociability and friendliness. – rhetorician Oct 28 '14 at 20:17
  • 1
    Don't even get me started about the possibility the friend is trying to be facetious or even sarcastic, which is made obvious via nonverbal cues such as tone of voice and negative facial expressions, such as rolling of the eyes or pursing of the lips at the end of the question, as if to say "Yeah, right. Good luck with that fame thing, ya loser!" – rhetorician Oct 28 '14 at 20:22
  • @RegDwigнt Hold on a minute - but that's not a question just 'cuz it's got a question mark kind of thing at the end doesn't make it a question ... – Araucaria Oct 28 '14 at 20:27

The punctuation marks an author uses can help readers distinguish between (1) a simple inquiry ("so you're going to be famous?"), (2) an excited combination of question and exclamation ("so you're going to be famous?!"), and (3) a triumphant prediction ("so you're going to be famous!").

They can help readers in this way, but many authors do not use multiple punctuation marks of the ?!, !?, !?!, and ?!?! variety, which means that distinguishing between sense 1 and sense 2 or between sense 2 and sense 3 of a sentence punctuated with a single question mark or exclamation point depends on how the reader understands the context of the sentence at issue.

In many instances, interpretations will differ—just as in many productions of a play, different actors will render the same line in strikingly different ways and to very different effect. There is no absolute right and wrong here, though some interpretations may be less plausible than others.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.