Is "?:" still not a valid punctuation, or has it come into use? https://english.stackexchange.com/a/90994/443467 is when the question is short. What is the best replacement for this when the question is too long? For example, if the sentence is like this:

What is the problem with this code?:


What would be the best replacement for this when rewording, adding a line, replacing the 'this' to use 'above', 'below', 'following' or positional words etc., compromising the tone/emphasis, or just excluding the colon is not possible?

  • You could use a colon without a question mark, or if it irks you rewrite as "Explain the problem with this code:" etc.
    – Stuart F
    Sep 23, 2022 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


In ordinary English writing, a question mark terminates a sentence which is a question. All that can follow a sentence ending is white space. A colon following would be incorrect. The remarks in the linked ELL thread advising avoidance of such informal dual punctuation are still valid. The colon in your example just says 'the following is what I just mentioned', and is therefore redundant.

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