End Punctuation

The punctuation marks that signal the end of a sentence are the period, question mark and exclamation mark.

You use a period, by far the most common of the end punctuation marks, to terminate a sentence that makes a statement. You may also use periods with imperative sentences that have no sense of urgency or excitement attached:

  • Without a doubt, Emily was much happier after her divorce.
  • Turn right at the stop sign.
  • Bring me a cup of coffee and a cheese sandwich.

When you want to express a sense of urgency or very strong emotion, end your imperative sentences and statements with an exclamation mark:

  • Look out below!
  • Leave this house at once!
  • I hate him!

Exclamation marks are rare in formal writing, so use them sparingly, if at all.

Opt for a question mark at the end of a direct question:

  • Who’s on first?
  • Where is my black tuque?

Be careful not to use a question mark at the end of an indirect question. Indirect questions are simply statements, and therefore end with a period:

  • I wonder who was chosen as Harvest King in the county fair.
  • Bridget asked if she could play pinball.
  • The manager asked who was working overtime that evening.

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