on the grievous overuse of the question mark

I’m sorry, I don’t normally do midday rants, but I’m working from home alone and I have to tell this to someone other than the dog.

I really, really hate it when people end sentences with a question mark. I just received an email saying:

This PDF didn’t upload properly?

And I’m like – are you asking me if it didn’t load properly, or are you trying to tell me? I’ve seen the PDF; it doesn’t look like the mis-loading is in question. It’s definitely not looking the way it should, so why do you ask? At times like this, it takes nearly all my willpower to not respond with that question or, when faced with certain repeat offenders, with something more like:

Really? Let me take a look at it for you? Okay, it looks like it might have been a font embedding issue? Try this one?

Honestly. It’s ok for you to be unsure of something, but it’s emphatically NOT OK for you to end sentences with question marks.  In my experience, that’s only done by people who don’t like to be held responsible for anything, to the point that not even their statements are statements. I guarantee you know a non-zero number of this type of person.

I’m still looking for a job where my only responsibility is to criticize grammar, spelling, usage and sentence structure. Just send EVERYTHING across my desk for a healthy dose of colored pen and helpful corrections. Haven’t found anything yet. I maintain hope. In the meantime, deep breaths and a professional response.

But just between you and me – ARGH.

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