It is true that exclamation and question marks end sentences in the same way a period does.

Don't do that!

Would you like to go out to eat?

However, in a more complex sentence, do exclamation and question marks replace commas? It would seem this is most common with dialog.

"Don't do that!" he said.

"Would I do that? because I don't think I would."

In a more complex sentence, do exclamation and question marks replace commas? meaning they don't end the sentence.

  • 4
    I think your second supportive example is wrong. It would be helpful to cite it, if it's a quote.
    – Andrew Leach
    Apr 19, 2019 at 16:10
  • @AndrewLeach it isn't a quote. It's merely something I came up with for an example.
    – JBH
    Apr 19, 2019 at 16:19
  • yes, apart from the pragmatic value of these marks they are sometimes equivalent to a comma.
    – Toothrot
    Apr 19, 2019 at 22:34
  • Parenthetical information (which you didn't ask about about. But which I'm mentioning specifically!) can also be used within a single sentence. This is because parenthetical information serves no grammatical role within the surrounding text. Apr 20, 2019 at 3:50

1 Answer 1


In the first example, rules for reported speech allow for the quotation mark or exclamation point within the quote to stay. The Chicago Style Guide provides this example in 6:10: Other punctuation in relation to closing quotation marks:

“What’s the rush?” she wondered.

If the question mark or exclamation point is part of the quoted material, put it within the quotations. If the sentence continues from there, let it. The exception is a period, where a comma would be used instead. (Wikipedia affirms this with the Merriam-Webster Guide to Punctuation as a contributing source.)

Examples 2 and 3 are flawed. This stylistic rule involving reported speech does not persist in other contexts. Instead, commas should be used if you're distinguishing elements in a sentence; if a question or exclamation is necessary, appropriate structural changes should be made to distinguish one sentence from another. For example, here is one way to revise your sentences:

"Would I do that? Because I don't think I would." ("Because" begins a new sentence.)

In a more complex sentence, do exclamation and question marks replace commas? This would mean they don't end the sentence. (Clarify "meaning" into subject and verb to begin the sentence.)

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