Not To Be Trusted With Knives

{March 4, 2008}   Happy National Grammar Day

In honour of National Grammar Day¹, I’d like to present you with this funky punctuation mark that I learned about on the Grammar Girl podcast: the interrobang.

This funky punctuation mark is, as it appears to be, a combination of the question mark and the exclamation point and is used in situations where you are expressing both a question and surprise/disbelief at the same time such as “You think the Canucks should trade Roberto Luongo for a 4th round draft pick‽” or “wtf‽” The alternative to the interrobang is to use both punctuation marks, (e.g., “wtf?!” but that’s considered poor style. And is used by people who aren’t cool enough to know about the interrobang.

¹Yes, I realize that I’m Canadian and the “National” in “National Grammar Day” appears to refer to the USA, but if the National Hockey League can call itself “National” despite being made up of teams in both Canada and the US, then I’m willing to honour NGD here in the Great Rainy North.²
²I’m in Vancouver, so it’s not really the Great “White” North.


He, OK, so I’m not cool, but I like the “?!” as well as the “!?”. And I use them differently. The first to ask a question with emphasis (like in your example), and the other to express something with emphasis and then imply a question, as in “That’s what I think! Don’t you?”

Kalev says:

I prefer the irony mark. ؟ (which in Windows in Arial Unicode MS seems to be deemed the Arabic Question Mark o_O) The interrobang tries too hard and can too easily be mistaken for a question mark.

Footnote to a footnote ftw!

I tend to either use !?! or ?!?, depending on whether exclamation or questioning is more emphasised. But then, I just used Internet slang and British English in the same post and I’m born and raised Canadian.

Beth says:

@Jan – Yeah, I’ve always used “?!” Never even *heard* of an interrobang before that podcast and, knowing me, I’ll be too lazy to ever actually use it again =)

@Kalev – I totally cannot see what that iron mark looks like, thanks to the super small font, which I cannot change without paying money, on this blog template. Does one use the irony mark at the end of a sentence to indicate that you are being ironic (as its name would suggest)? Also, what the hell is this thing –> o_O all about? You’ve been using it a lot lately and I’ve been meaning to ask you wtf?

@Chris – One time, I even did a footnote to a footnote to a footnote. Oh yeah, that was a glorious, glorious day!

Kalev says:

You use Firefox. Hit + a few times to increase your font size.

o_O: imagine the Os as two eyes.

Beth says:

@Kalev – I figured that much out. But I still don’t get it – why is one eye larger than the other? Is it supposed to show that you are having a stroke?

Kalev says:

No, it’s like one eye is bigger than the other to sort of parody raising one’s eyebrow and looking all quizzical and/or worried.

Comments are closed.

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