The “?!” and “!?” Matched Pairs Conundrum

I’m sure you know the uses of the question mark and exclamation point:

“Fuck me?”
“Fuck you!”

But what happens when you pair them? When should you pair them?

What happens when you pair “!” with “?”
The first thing that happens when you pair these two punctuation marks together is that your reader assumes your vocabulary is too limited to correctly transverbulate your feelings and that you need to fall back on punctuation to express your true thoughts.

The second thing that happens is that the reader will think that perhaps they are the idiot, that they missed something in the sentence, and they will go back and re-read your poorly written sentence only to find they were correct about the writer’s lack of transverbulation in the first place.

Lastly, your reader will attempt to figure out why your sentence ends with “?!” or “!?” and why you decided to use the combination you did. Which is why we’ll move on to the next bit…

When should you pair them?
When deciding between either “?!” and “!?” the first step is to not get mixed up with the chess playing punctuation definitions. Believe it or not, chess players utilize punctuation marks to express how devious or stupid moves are in a game. Wipe this shit out of your head because anyone who has time to punctuate chess moves obviously doesn’t have the time to read this kind of article. We don’t want to get mixed up with that element. Here are the definitions you should be concerned with:

“?!” – Loud question
Otherwise known as the ‘WTF?!”, this punctuation is necessary to harshly question someone else’s actions or previous statement with the expectation of an answer back. Some good examples are:
“Is that a herpes sore?!”
“When were you going to tell me you were married?!”
“How did you manage to spend $4,300 on your trip to Washington, DC?!”

“!?” – No Fucking Way
This is a strong disbelief in someone’s action or statement without the expectation of an answer:
“Madonna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!?”
“You call that a penis!?”
“Gas is at $4.00 a gallon!?”

See how a statement changes now that you know the definitions:
“You are gay?!”
“You are gay!?”

“You are a sophomore in high school?!”
“You are a sophomore in high school!?”


Sam said...

Man, a great post. Love the DC trip :D

Keegan said...

FYI: The combination of '!' and '?' is called the interrobang.

Doug said...

Damnit Keegan, the interrobang is so 1995. The interrrobang is limited and sterile... my definitions will free your soul!!