Thanks to Mr Ayre for this week’s literacy focus.

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A question is a sentence which usually expects a response. Different kinds of question get different kinds of response. There are three main types, all signalled in writing by the use of a special punctuation mark, the question mark.

  • A yes-no question requires a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Do you like chips?
  • A wh-question begins with a special question word, such as what, why, when, who, where, and how. They’re very different from yes-no questions: you have to give them a detailed answer. Why does half-term only last for one week?
  • An alternative question gives you a choice of answers. You choose one of the alternatives given in the question. Do you want tea or coffee?

By the way, you can answer a question by another question, if you want.

STUDENT: Are you going to set homework today?

TEACHER: What do you think?

You can also ask a question which you answer yourself. Shall I give you an example? Yes, I shall. And you can even ask a question which you don’t expect anyone to answer at all. Why might someone do that?

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Increasingly, question marks are also being used to indicate expressiveness.

In this story by A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin and Piglet are stuck on an island after a blustery day. Pooh suggests that they might use Christopher Robin’s boat to get home:

“But it’s too small for two of us,” said Christopher Robin sadly.

“Three of us with Piglet.”

“That makes it smaller still Oh, Pooh Bear, what shall we do?”

And then this Bear, Pooh Bear, Winnie-the-Pooh, F.O.P. (Friend of Piglet’s), R.C. (Rabbit’s Companion), P.D. (Pole Discoverer), E.C. and T.F. (Eeyore’s Comforter and Tail-finder)–in fact, Pooh himself–said something so clever that Christopher Robin could only look at him with mouth open and eyes staring, wondering if this was really the Bear of Very Little Brain whom he had know and loved so long.

“We might go in your umbrella,” said Pooh.

“?”

“We might go in your umbrella,” said Pooh?

“??”

“We might go in your umbrella,” said Pooh.

“!!!!!!”

For suddenly Christopher Robin saw that they might.

 

winnie-pooh

 

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