I'm basically looking at sentences which start with a question, and end with an explanation to it. But there may be more instances of a similar structure. Sample sentence :

Can you book a room in advance, because otherwise we'd be in trouble

Should this sentence end with a period or a question mark?

PS: I read the apparently similar question Position of question mark when sentence doesn't end with question but the sentence structure there is different from what I'm looking for.

Edit: I just discovered that this question is a duplicate. A resolved question already exists: Should I use a question mark when the second independent clause of my sentence is not a question? But i do like the explanations here better.

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    Indeed that other one is different, as there was NOT A QUESTION in the example given there! Sep 2, 2015 at 10:40
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    That looks pretty clumsy as one sentence. It reads more clearly as two, e.g., "Can you book a room in advance? Otherwise, we'll be in trouble."
    – canon
    Sep 2, 2015 at 19:44
  • It is not the perfect sentence, but the asker wasn't really asking about that. StackExchange is chock full of "but why would you want to" responses. Instead, we should just be answering the questions we know the answer to. Of course, we shouldn't answer questions we don't know the answer to! Apr 12, 2022 at 11:24

2 Answers 2


The usual mantra is 'A parenthetical is deletable without the matrix sentence's syntax, usually expected punctuation [and certainly basic meaning] being compromised'.

Few would object to

Can you book a room in advance (because otherwise we'd be in trouble)?

but this changes the emphasis from that in the version using the comma. But you could argue that the same punctuation convention should logically apply when the comma is chosen to offset.

Modern styles probably allow even a sentence-medial question mark:

Can you book a room in advance? because otherwise we'd be in trouble.

But the use of a sentence fragment is probably less controversial, and quite acceptable as an informal option to many people nowadays:

Can you book a room in advance? Because otherwise we'd be in trouble.

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    I think Edwin Ashworth has explained this well. It's something I've wondered about. Looking at the options I think I prefer the third. I'd just mention that, in my opinion, 'Can you book a room in advance, because otherwise we'd be in trouble?' makes sense but it suggests that the whole sentence is said on a monontone with an interrogative inflection only on the final word. It's unusual but I can imagine it being said like that as one long question. Sep 2, 2015 at 10:00
  • @chaslyfromUK That is exactly what troubles me. Ending the sentence with a question mark makes me read it with a heightened interrogative intonation on "trouble?"; whereas the word "trouble" is not a part of a question at all.
    – insanity
    Sep 2, 2015 at 11:36
  • @deepa.g - Then we are in agreement. I suggest using one of EA's solutions. Sep 2, 2015 at 11:42
  • I like how there was a parenthetical in the parenthetical mantra. Sep 2, 2015 at 16:22
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    I understood everything in this answer except the mantra. Sep 3, 2015 at 3:23

newspaperman's take: the question mark is always at the end. Like it is for capitalised alphabets which are not to be used in the middle of a sentence (other than for proper nouns: "prime minister Cameroon said"), so it is for question marks. No jarring items in the middle of a sentence. I am not sure which style book it is, but our desk editors enforce this strictly.

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