Is there any difference between “?!” and “!?”?

The Wikipedia page on Interrobang describes:

In informal English, the same inflection is usually notated by ending a sentence with first a question mark and then an exclamation mark, or vice versa. Many people are unfamiliar with the interrobang, and would be puzzled when first seeing it, although its intention is usually self-evident. The interrobang can be hand-written with a single stroke plus the dot. One common application is in cartoons, as a stand-alone symbol of surprise.

Is there a difference, or are they identical?


4 Answers 4


You should be aware that most style guides will tell you not to use an interrobang even if you have one; moreover, a single sentence-ending punctuation mark is sufficient unless you are trying to emulate Hunter Thompson and go totally gonzo (and even Thompson did his freaking out in the writing, not the punctuation).

If you want to express a question emphatically, just use a single exclamation mark. People will be able to tell when you're asking a question.

You ate the rest of the bacon, didn't you!

The ! trumps the ? but should be used sparingly. See my answer to this question on Writers.SE for a little more background on this.


?! is emphasizing a question.

!? is questioning an emphasis.

I don't know why anyone would add an emphasis only to undercut it in the next mark, so I've never thought "!?" has any validity.

EDIT: There appear to be no sources published about this — interrobangs are extremely unexplored territory — so I can only refer to the structure of written English for my reasoning. There is a prevailing idea, among writers I've asked about the order of interrobangs, that the sentence's nature as a question is already determined before the punctuation, therefore "!?" does not diminish the question. I disagree.

Example: one can still remove the imperative of a question by punctuating it with "." instead of "?", resulting in a rhetorical question. The punctuation still does a lot of the work of defining a sentence's tone and purpose. Interrobangs are unusual in how they mix punctuation but a "?" says more about the tone and purpose of a sentence than an "!" does, so "!" should follow "?" as a modifier.

  • 1
    This answer has received some downvotes, but I think it has merit. There are times when you use a question to make an emphatic statement, "You ate ALL the pie?!" In this case, the question mark is the punctuation for the sentence because it is a question, and the exclamation mark describes how it is said. Reversing the order could indicate a declarative statement you either aren't sure about or are trying to cover your bases in terms of the listener's expectations. "I should not have done that!?", (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:59
  • 1
    perhaps spoken by someone caught doing something they aren't sure they weren't supposed to do but it seems appropriate to strongly express "remorse" just in case, along with a raised inflection to leave open that door that maybe it was actually OK or that they did it with innocent intentions. The order of the punctuation does add information about the intended meaning of the words in the sentence.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 7, 2017 at 21:59
  • This is what I was taught in school some time ago, though the instructor could have just had the same thought as you. I've always thought the interrobang losses this subtle detail.
    – melds
    May 7, 2019 at 2:54
  • Chess annotation clearly distinguishes between a dubious move ?! and a interesting move !? and may be a reliable source.
    – skvery
    Aug 2 at 9:06

The Wikipedia page you linked to states that the interrobang is

often represented by ?! or !?

which I think answers your question.

There is no difference.

  • 1
    I think what @RoryAlsop means is: "matter of style."
    – franklin
    Mar 26, 2016 at 17:55
  • They are both used, but not because they mean the same thing. There are appropriate uses for each depending on the context.
    – fixer1234
    Mar 7, 2017 at 22:02

I prefer "?!" because the first punctuation, "?", logically and correctly frames the sentence as a question. The punctuation, "!", merely adds emphasis to the question being asked, as if to imply, "Really?".

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