Here is some interesting facts about the question mark you can share with your grandchildren.

They have probably used the question mark hundreds of times, but may not realise what an interesting history it actually has.

The question mark in English

In written English the question mark has a fairly straight forward role.

Sentences that have a question mark at the end are called interrogative sentences because the ‘interrogate’ or require an answer.

These sentences often begin with Why or What pronouns.

question mark
The question mark in English

The question mark in other languages

In other languages the question mark is used in different ways and may look quite different from the one we use in English.

The first recorded use of a question mark came about from the ancient Arabic script, Syriac.

In Spanish it is used at the beginning and end of an interrogative sentence.

When it is placed at the beginning it is inverted or upside down.

The history of the question mark in English

In Armenia, a question mark is an open circle and looks like this:

The history of the question mark in English

In languages, such as Arabic script, it is mirrored to reflect the language is written right to left.

The history of the question mark in English

So where did the question mark originate?

One story says it is derived from ancient Egypt and is formed from the shape of a cat’s tail.

Cats being inquisitive creatures, the Egyptians used a stylised shape to mark a question or something unknown.

However, the word for question in Latin was shortened to qo in the Middle Ages by scholars, and from there it evolved into ‘question’.

Thanks to Wikipedia for the facts presented here.

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The history of the question mark in English
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