Humanities › English What is an Exclamatory Question? Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms Share Flipboard Email Print An exclamatory question may be followed by either a question mark or an exclamation point. WestEnd 61/Getty Images English English Grammar An Introduction to Punctuation Writing By Richard Nordquist English and Rhetoric Professor Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester B.A., English, State University of New York Dr. Richard Nordquist is professor emeritus of rhetoric and English at Georgia Southern University and the author of several university-level grammar and composition textbooks. our editorial process Richard Nordquist Updated February 12, 2020 In English grammar, an exclamatory question is an interrogative sentence that has the meaning and force of an exclamatory statement (for instance, "Isn't she a big girl!"). Also called an exclamatory interrogative or an emotional question. An exclamatory question may be followed by either a question mark or an exclamation point. Examples and Observations: "How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?"(attributed to Albert Einstein)"What other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self!"(Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables, 1851)"'And look,' Andreas continued in his gentlest voice, 'see the modifiers skipping around and nodding cheerily to each other: My! isn't this fun!"(Alexandra Marshall, Gus in Bronze. Mariner Books, 1999)"[Mrs. Kitson's] astonishment found vent in the exclamatory question: 'What the deuce do you want here?'"To which question the clerical visitor answered by solemnly asking another:"'Woman, are you saved?'"'What business is it of yours? Anyway, I want to be saved from you.'"(Dick Donovan, Deacon Brodie, or Behind the Mask. Chatto and Windus, 1901)Tim Sullivan: Either a piece a cake or a slice a life, you notice that?Bobby Gold: Yeah, I've remarked that, ain't that the truth?(Homicide, 1991)"I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief,Need friends: Subjected thus,How can you say to me--I am a king?"(King Richard in William Shakespeare's King Richard II)An Emotive Overlay on a Semantic Category"Statement, question, exclamation, and directive are . . . semantic categories. Exclamation is in fact somewhat different in kind from the other three in that it involves an emotive element of meaning that can be overlaid on a statement, a question or a directive, as in:i. What a rogue he was!ii. How on earth did you do it so quickly?iii. Take that bloody grin off your face! That is, these would characteristically be used to make an exclamatory statement, put an exclamatory question and issue an exclamatory directive respectively. Syntactically, only (i) is exclamative--(ii) is interrogative and (iii) imperative."(Rodney D. Huddleston, Introduction to the Grammar of English. Cambridge University Press, 1984.