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How do you correctly format a sarcastic question that includes a suggested answer?


Where did you get your license: the back of a cereal box?

Is that correct? It seems wrong to make it two independent sentences, both ending with question marks, if the suggested answer is a run-on part of the same sarcastic question.

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you want to say that or write? – Maulik V May 4 '14 at 7:00
what about putting an em-dash after the first part of the question? – Maulik V May 4 '14 at 7:04
up vote 2 down vote accepted

There doesn't seem to be a standard way to do this. Looking through Google books, I found:

  • a dash: “Where did you get your license—from a Cracker Jacks box?” (Christopher Meeks, 2005)
  • a comma: “Where did you get your license, in some kind of government giveaway?” (Michael Fox, 2000)
  • dual questions: “Where'd you get your license? A vending machine?” (Shirley Jump, 2013)
  • an ellipsis: “Where did you get your license... in a Cracker Jack box!” (Joseph Santiago, 2008)

Even though all of those could be found in published works, scrolling through the results, the comma seemed most prevalent, followed by dual questions.

It seems wrong to make it two independent sentences, both ending with question marks

Really? You think so? That practice seems okay to me.

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You can say:

Where did you get your license, on the back of a cereal box?

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I considered that, but it's part of casual dialogue and the added 'on' doesn't feel true. – Matt May 4 '14 at 6:11
Indeed, the question seems to be: How to punctuate with the preposition elided? – J.R. May 4 '14 at 8:45

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