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Author Topic: The proper way to construct a question in a news headline  (Read 1588 times)
Joe Carillo
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« on: December 27, 2011, 09:59:08 AM »

Question e-mailed by Jhumur Dasgupta, December 26, 2011:

Hi,

I am a journalism student and I came across your posts on English usage. I am a regular visitor of your forum.

Recently, I came across this headline in a website:

Why are there less women CEOs, asks the professor

This looks a bit odd to me. I feel it should be

Why are there less women CEOs? asks the professor

or

Why there are less women CEOs? asks the professor

Can you please suggest a better way to handle such headlines?

Thanks,

Jhumur D

My reply to Jhumur:

This headline from that website is indeed odd and, even worse, grammatically and syntactically wrong:

Why are there less women CEOs, asks the professor

Your first suggested alternative construction is grammatically and syntactically correct:

Why are there less women CEOs? asks the professor

It properly deploys the question mark where it should beā€”right after the question without quotes and not after the attribution.

This second suggested construction of yours is grammatically flawed, however, for it puts a question mark after a question constructed as a declarative statement:

Why there are less women CEOs? asks the professor

For the above headline to be grammatically correct and more elegant sounding, the attribution should be positioned ahead of the declarative form of the question and the question mark dispensed with, as follows:

Professor asks why there are less women CEOs

To dramatize the question, of course, we can also restructure the above headline as follows:

Professor asks: Why are there less women CEOs?

Take your pick from the last two constructions above.
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jhinx22
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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2014, 09:12:31 AM »

Which one is correct?

1. Why are there less women CEOs? asks the professor
2. Why are there fewer women CEOs? asks the professor
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