Don't put a space between an em-dash and the adjacent words.From Quick and Dirty Tips

In English, you don’t put a space between a word and a question mark.From Quora

These sentences look very similar to me, but for some reason there is the in the first example and a in the second.

Which author is correct?


Useful tips:

Bear in mind that when a is followed by the, something specific is involved. Also, a is for a general idea but the plural countable noun can also be for a general idea. They both become "the" after their specificity is established.

Just try to keep in mind: a= general, the=specific.

Countable nouns are either a or plural as in:
Do you have a television in your house?

Yes, I have a television.

Now, it will shift to the: Is the television yours?
ANSWER: Yes, the television is mine.

VERSUS: Do you have televisions in your house?

ANSWER: Yes, I have televisions in my house.
SHIFT: Are the televisions yours?

If you remember this pattern, you should be pretty much set. [idiom: to be set] Often, people who speak certain Slavic languages such as Russian find this pattern useful.

  • an em-dash and the adjacent words [fine, those specific adjacent words]

  • an em-dash and an adjacent word [a generality, singular]

  • an em-dash and adjacent words. [a generality, plural]

  • em-dashes and adjacent words. [a generality, all plural]

  • a word and a question mark [generality]

  • a word and the question mark [specific, the question mark after some word]

  • words and questions marks [generality, not very well expressed...]

| improve this answer | |
  • "a word and a question mark" (that is, the sentence from Quora) looks wrong to me. Jason said it's OK, Jeff said it's wrong, and you describe it as "generality" (it seems you prefer the first version). Hmmm. – john c. j. Aug 6 at 18:01
  • 1
    It's fine. She has a mole and a beauty mark on her face. A sentence can end in a word and a question mark. :) Please try to understand the pattern. I have a house but do not have a car. Use of a and a are fine, grammatically. – Lambie Aug 6 at 18:10
  • It is not fine. What are you doing? There certainly should be a space between "what" and the question mark. In that example, there are quite a few spaces as well as other words. The answer should have related to the final word of the question, not any word. – Jeff Morrow Aug 6 at 18:22
  • 1
    @JeffMorrow The Quora thing may be descriptively deficient but it is not grammatically wrong. – Lambie Aug 6 at 18:29
  • 1
    A question mark in a sentence should be placed without a space after its last word. That is not descriptively deficient. :) – Lambie Aug 6 at 18:30

I hate to disagree with Jason Bassford, but only the first sentence is technically correct.

The second question should be answered

Do not insert a space between a word and an immediately following question mark.

Even better would be

Do not insert a space between the last word of a question and the question mark.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    You might not like the precision of the second sentence in the question, but it's absolutely grammatical and correct. Any dislike of it has nothing to do with the use of the articles themselves (which is the point of the question), but of other verbiage you feel should be added. That's just personal commentary. You still use the indefinite article in the your variation of the second sentence—so, that aspect of the sentence is fine. – Jason Bassford Aug 6 at 18:33

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.