by Jackie King
I’m not sure when writers started using double punctuation at the end of a sentence, but anytime I read this in any story, I want to throw that book across the room. This weird, double-punctuation always consists of a question mark plus an explanation point at the end of a sentence. For example:
“Does that man have a gun?!”
“Does that man have a gun?”
Let’s suppose the scene had already been set up with our protagonist observing a man dressed in camo. The guy is trying to conceal himself behind a large indoor plant and a woman’s voice rings out,“Does that man have a gun?”
Note from reader: I don’t need the author calling my attention to the fact that this is exciting.
The addition of the exclamation point pulls me out of the scene, the book, and all I hear is the author is shouting in my head, “I’m afraid you’re a little dense and won’t understand how exciting this sentence is, if I don’t draw attention to it.”
Note to all writers: Readers are not dumb!
You will notice that in the above sentence that I didn't use both a period and an exclamation point, as if drawing attention to the fact this is a declarative sentence. That would be stupid, wouldn’t it? (Single punctuation mark.)
It’s equally stupid to use two punctuation marks at the end of an interrogative sentence.
Do you have a pet grammar-peeve? I’d love to hear about it.