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The Interrobang?!

You may have seen this sneaky symbol appear in texts, and maybe you've even used it yourself, but are you using it correctly?!


?!


Why the Interrobang?!


The Interrobang is used for one of two reasons: either a phrase is both an exclamation and a question and so must be punctuated accordingly, or, as in modern literature and so-called "text-speech", to emphasise that a question is being delivered with a shrill or shout, as though in shock, anger or desperation.


Question? Or Exclamation!


Decide whether the interrobang is to emphasise a question or an exclamation. For a question, the symbol is written as ?!, but for an exclamation, the symbol is written as !?


In English, one finds from time to time phrases that were originally questions but that now act as though as exclamations.


Examples: How dare you? How do you do?

When using the interrobang with such "fake", archaic or rhetorical questions, it is correct to use the symbol !?, as the emphasis is on the exclamation, not the question. However, since the phrase is, grammatically speaking, a question, a question mark is required, and this is why we punctuate the phrase with a question mark as well as an exclamation mark.


With more traditional questions such as:


What is your name? Where are you going?

These do, indeed, function as questions requiring an answer, and so the symbol ?! is required.


Should I Even Use the Interrobang…?!


The Interrobang has become a proper and recognised punctuation mark. If it is being used as above, where necessary to indicate both an exclamation and question, where neither can be avoided, it must be used. If, however, you are only using the interrobang to show that a character is shouting, for instance, this may simply be expressed as so:


"What are you using the interrobang for?" she screamed.

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