Don't You Know It's True?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Doesn't everyone know that interrogatives such as this should end in a question mark?

Apparently it's an easy mistake, especially in long questions, to replace the proper punctuation mark (?) with periods and even more often exclamation points. (?)

Many of the articles I edit make this mistake with disconcerting frequency:

  • Who can believe it!
  • How about we go over to the Sawbuck because it's ladies' night so a pitcher of Rolling Rock is only $5.00.
  • Then shouldn't this follow: It's not a duck! She's a man! Where's the beef!
Exasperations, declarations, and itemizations are not substitutes for interrogatives. They can complement each other, but they can't replace each other.

It's even more disturbing is to see it in print.

For example, the lyrics to the Beach Boys song "Heroes and Villains" from Brian Wilson's 2004 SMiLE bear the line "Dance Margarita! Don't you know that I love you!"

Maybe it's instructing the reader on how the song is sung, but is one little question mark too much to ask?