I was reading the book "Quiet" by Susan Cain and a sentence came up that eluded me:

What does it mean to be quiet AND have fortitude? these descriptions asked implicitly.

There were no quotation marks around the rhetorical question, and the word "these" wasn't capitalized after the question mark. Is this really the correct way to insert an unquoted question into a sentence, or is it a publishing error?

Sorry if this is a duplicate, but I haven't seen someone answer a post with the grammar like this sentence, much less answer how to insert an unquoted, rhetorical question into a sentence.

1 Answer 1


The sentence is fine as is, and it does not matter that the question is rhetorical. As you noted, the fact that the word after the question mark is not capitalized shows that that the sentence did not end.

Here are other ways to handle an embedded question:

I am angry -- Are you with me on this? -- when people change lanes without signaling.

Is it true? she asked me.

She asked me is it true? and I just couldn't lie to her.

She asked me if it was true. (By contrast, that one uses no question mark. The sentence does not state the actual wording of her question.)

Are you sure they asked you why?

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