2
  • I can climb to the top of that tree. How you ask? Well, like this.

  • I can climb to the top of that tree. How, you ask? Well, like this.

  • I can climb to the top of that tree. "How", you ask? Well, like this.

Here, the highlighted part, the question hasn't been asked by the listener, and doesn't require a response. What i'm concerned about is the punctuation that go/goes into that.

1

How, you ask?

is a simple inversion of

You ask how?

which is a shortened version of

You ask how I can climb to the top of that tree?

So your second version is correct: "How, you ask?"

2
  • Why is this downvoted?
    – AIQ
    Sep 21 '19 at 17:11
  • 1
    @AIQ: Who knows? You can cure that with an upvote, however. ^_^
    – Robusto
    Sep 21 '19 at 19:30
1

To go to the crazy extreme, we can say that the "correctest" way is:

"How?" you ask?

or:

You ask "How?"?

Of course, it is too complicated and ugly and it is never used.


A good compromise would be:

"How", you ask?

but it still includes direct speech in direct speech, although not so ugly as before.


To maximize efficiency, the following seems to be best:

How, you ask?


The form:

How you ask?

(without comma) inquires (ungrammatically) about the method / way of asking. Therefore, some possible answers are:

With my mouth. (Verbally.)

Carefully.

In written form.

-1

The sentence isn't actually a question so it shouldn't end in a question mark. It is reporting a question, so I would punctuate it.

"How?" you ask.

I understand this to be a shortened version of

"How do you climb to the top of that tree?" you ask.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.