When a person says a grammatically correct sentence, but it's not clear from the way they say, whether it's a question or a statement, what's this delivery called?

So when the sentence is written down, it's clearly a statement, but whenever they speak, it's always not clear. For instance, "I have to come" is delivered like "I have to come?" and every statement from that person always ends border lining a question, but not a complete question.

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    It's just called a question. There's no special name for "utterance which might be a question (or might not)". In the spoken version the fact that it's a question is indicated by rising intonation at the end of the utterance - in the written version, by the question mark at the end. Mar 6, 2023 at 14:32
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    Note that in some (irritating, to me) dialects, rising intonation (aka "upspeak") is just "how people talk", even when they're not asking questions. Mar 6, 2023 at 14:36
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    Here's an interesting little snippet from that Wikipedia link (HRT = upspeak = rising intonation) - The more successful a man is, the less likely he is to use HRT; the more successful a woman is, the more likely she is to use uptalk. Personally I think it's often little more than a cheap trick to make people pay attention (even if logically we know we're not being asked a question that demands a response, we're subconsciously more inclined to feel we're being "put on the spot", and some reaction is called for). Mar 6, 2023 at 14:40
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    @FumbleFingers - I so agree with you about how very annoying upspeaking is. While idly Googling, I have found that there is a name for something else that I find deeply irritating, and that is 'vocal fry'. Mar 6, 2023 at 14:59
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    @MichaelHarvey: Way ahead of you! I recall ranting on about "deliberately cracked female voice" (from Kylie Minogue? I don't remember that level of detail! :) 20 years ago when I first started using an early online chat site. I'm not sure Wikipedia even existed back then, but someone told me it was called vocal fry - and it seemed such an apt name that I never forgot it. Mar 6, 2023 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


If the statement wasn't intended as question but the intonation was similar to one, that's uptalk, which is a feature used by some speakers of some dialects (or idiolects). According to Wikipedia:

The high rising terminal (HRT), also known as upspeak, uptalk, or high rising intonation (HRI), is a feature of some variants of English where declarative sentences can end with a rising pitch similar to that typically found in yes-or-no questions. HRT has been claimed to be especially common among younger speakers and women, though its exact sociolinguistic implications are an ongoing subject of research.

If it was intended to be a question, that's just a feature of English. I'm not sure that there's a single name for non-inverted questions (actually, "non-inverted questions" is a pretty good name), but some of them are echo questions:

We use echo questions to repeat part of what we have just heard when we don’t fully understand or when we want to confirm what we have heard. We use rising or fall-rising intonation:

A: Did you hear Pete’s giving up his job.

B: Pete’s giving up his job?

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    Thanks a lot, HRT (uptalk) matches exactly what I'm looking for.
    – Eskay
    Mar 6, 2023 at 16:08

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