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As Britain and other countries in Europe worry about ever-growing levels of obesity among adults and children, could we learn something from our neighbours, the French?

Despite a diet heavy on foie gras, creamy sauces and cheese, just 11% of French adults are obese compared with 22% in Britain and a whopping third of Americans.

The French live longer, too, and have lower death rates from heart disease. So what's their secret - and can the French really keep it up in the face of their ever-growing appetite for fast food and fizzy drinks?

Lunchtime in Paris, and the de Bodinat family are sitting down for a family lunch with two of their daughters.

Their mother, Clemence, serves a healthy meal of white fish with a tomato and cucumber salad, with a plain yoghurt for pudding. The fridge is devoid of fizzy drinks, and on the table sits a carafe of ordinary water.

She says: "I am a mother of four children, and I have to say that they do not have sweets, they do not have sugar, they do not have sodas - you can open the cupboard here and you will see no temptation at all," she smiles.
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1) Could we learn something from our neighbours, the French?

The above sentence is grammatically correct.

Look at the very first sentence of the abve.
As Britain and other countries in Europe worry about ever-growing levels of obesity among adults and children, could we learn something from our neighbours, the French?

For me the question mark at the end is incorrect. Would you toe the my line on this? I don't think there is a question here. Just a statement; so a fullstop is the right punctuation.
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As Britain and other countries in Europe worry about ever-growing levels of obesity among adults and children, could we learn something from our neighbours, the French?


The key part is could we learn. It is a question. It demands an answer. Yes we could learn. Or no, there is nothing to learn.

Hope that helps.
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Hello, Rex Emotion: smile

Those "wh-words" mentioned serve more than one purpose in English. It is true that they are not used only in questions.

There are two big groups of questions:

a. "yes-no questions": these begin with a verb, usually an auxiliary, and require "yes" or "no" for an answer. the questions are formed by inversion of verb and subject, or by adding an auxiliary verb at the beginning.
"Are you ok?"
"Did you see Tom yesterday?"

b. "wh-questions": this group inclused all the so-called "question words" mentioned in the previous posts and require new information as an answer. These questions start with the "question word" that replaces the unknown information.
"How old are you?"
"What time does the next train leave?"

In writing, what tells you that a certain construction is a question is the "word order" in that structure.
1. "You could turn on the T.V" is a statement.
2. "Could you turn on the T.V.?" is a question.

This will still be so even if you forget to place the question mark at the end in #2.

The above are basic rules, and you can have a question within a longer structure. The question may not be at the beginning of that structure. That is the case with the structure in the text you posted: it is a question, even when it may not look like one at first sight.

Suppose the construction had been:
"Could we learn something from our neighbours, the French, since Britain and other countries in Europe worry about ever-growing levels of obesity among adults and children?"

In this case, it would have been easier perhaps to recognise the question. "Since Britain... and children" is not the main part of the sentence, but a comment; the reason why the British could learn from the French.

I hope it helps.

Miriam
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Comments  
I thought it was necessary to have a wh word or something similar at the beginning of a sentence if you want to place question mark.

When, where, what, why, which, would, will are some wh words.

1.How could he learn Linux operating system?

2.He doesn't know how he could learn Linux operating system.

I wouldn't put a question mark at the end of the second sentence though it has the word could.

would you agree?
Hi Rex,

In general, you are correct, When, where, what, why, which, would, will, are "question words." But that list is not exhaustive.

1) Do you think we should visit our friends in Australia next year?

2) On your way home from the office, could you please bring back some bread and milk?

3) Do you think she will win the election?

4) Does John Kerry have the right stuff to be the President?

You see the "would, should, could" combination used frequently. The key part to this stuff is, does the sentence demand a response. If the answer is yes, it is a question. If not, then it is a statement.
1.How could he learn Linux operating system?

2.He doesn't know how he could learn Linux operating system


Those are both correct. In the first example, you are wanting an answer. In the second, you are making a statement.

Does this help?
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Yes, of course.
 miriam's reply was promoted to an answer.