For those of us who write in English on a regular basis, using periods is usually a pretty standard affair. We know that, in general, we need to place a period at the end of a sentence. In some cases, though, periods aren’t so straightforward. One of these cases is when a sentence ends with a word, phrase, or title that ends with a question mark or exclamation point. For example, let’s say that I’m referring to a book called What Was I Scared Of? (the question mark is part of the title) and I want to say that I haven’t read it. I might word my sentence like this:
- “I haven’t read What Was I Scared Of?”
The question is, how do I end the sentence? Do I leave the sentence as it is with just the question mark at the end, or do I add a period at the end as in the sentence below?
- “I haven’t read What Was I Scared Of?.”
It’s actually the first option that’s correct. When a word or phrase at the end of a sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation point, leave out the period. The question mark or exclamation point is all that you need. See below for more examples.
- “Michelle works at Yahoo!” (correct)
- “The last book on the reading list is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (correct)
- “The last book on the reading list is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.” (incorrect)
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