4

I reproduce below a question:

"Which of the following is correct: 1. If you so desire, you may download the content. 2. You may download the content, if you so desire."

The question should take a question mark, as is usual with any question. I have no idea where the question mark could be placed in this question. Can anyone tell me where the question mark be placed in this question? Or, is the question okay without the question mark?

  • As a question, this anticipates a response. What form will the response take? – JEL Dec 8 '15 at 18:46
  • Running text is not the best way to accommodate such content. The 'rules' of English are often found not to cover all situations that may be felt to be required. The bulleted style is far better here, though I'd preface it with 'Which of the following two sentences is/are correct?' Note that the question as it stands is of the form 'Which is greater than 6, (a) 9 or (b) 21?' – Edwin Ashworth Dec 8 '15 at 23:14
  • @Edwin Ashworth- I am unable to understand what you want to say when you say the two statements should be in bulleted style. Will you please further explain? – Dinesh Kumar Garg Dec 9 '15 at 17:01
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    As in Stu W's first variant (though, as I say, I believe the question mark should override his colon). – Edwin Ashworth Dec 9 '15 at 17:07
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Actually if this is, say, a test question, then its status as a question is understood and no question mark is needed. However, in other contexts, I believe Mark is right. Here are two examples:

Which of the following is correct:

  1. If you so desire, you may download the content. (With or without a period, or you could use a semicolon)

  2. You may download the content, if you so desire. (Use a period if you did so for [1] or used a semicolon)

In prose, you could do it like this:

Which of the following is correct: 1) If you so desire, you may download the content; or 2) you may download the content, if you so desire?

If you use a colon, you may not end statement [1] with a period. A semicolon works much better than a comma.

That still looks bad. How about this:

Which of the following is correct--1) if you so desire, you may download the content; or 2) you may download the content if you so desire--?

My Android doesn't make em-dashes. I still like Mark's plan. Just use a semicon rather than a period between [1] and [2]

  • Using question mark at the end of 2nd statement would mean the 2nd statement is in question form. Isn't it? – Dinesh Kumar Garg Dec 9 '15 at 6:55
  • I know; that's why I changed it. Consider Who do you think is right: Joanne, my first cousin; or Jenna, my niece? – Stu W Dec 9 '15 at 14:42
  • If question mark is to placed at the end, then we may rather modify the sentence and put the two statements somewhere in the middle of the sentence, like, "Which of the two statements - (1) if ... content and (2) you ... desire - is correct?" Sir, will not this be better. – Dinesh Kumar Garg Dec 10 '15 at 2:16
  • Gosh, I've been thinking about this one. It's not so much a question as it is a choice. As such, let's see what it looks like without a question mark. Which of the following is correct: 1) if you so desire, you may download the content; or 2) you may download the content, if you so desire. Yep, that's the way to do it. – Stu W Dec 10 '15 at 2:40
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Since you have numbered the two statements, the use of the colon is not needed. Instead, a question mark would be placed after "correct" instead.

  • If I remove colon to place question mark, then the statements which follow shall become unconnected. It is the colon which keeps the statements connected. – Dinesh Kumar Garg Dec 8 '15 at 18:43
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    I'd say the context keeps the statements connected. Certainly no native reader would be confused. – Brian Tung Dec 8 '15 at 21:05
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    I agree that removing the colon won't destroy the connection, but if you want to be extra safe you could write "Which of the following two sentences is correct?" – Andreas Blass Dec 8 '15 at 21:14
  • @Andreas Blass- If I put question mark just after "correct" replacing the colon, the sentence will end at "correct". The two statements that follow are intended to be parts of same sentence. What about this intention? – Dinesh Kumar Garg Dec 9 '15 at 6:56
  • @DineshKumarGarg The intention you described is confusing, since you seem to want three sentences to be a single sentence. The only way I see to do that is to insert the second and third into the first, writing "Which of "(1) If ... content" and "(2) You ... desire" is correct?" But that looks quite awkward to me. I'd rather recommend changing the intention. – Andreas Blass Dec 9 '15 at 12:44

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