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How to use Spanish upside-down question and exclamation marks

02 Aug, 2017 Popular Articles
How to use Spanish upside-down question and exclamation marks1 votes. 4.5 / 5

Upside-down question (¿) and exclamation marks (¡) are unique to Spanish language. And the question of why there is an upside-down question mark in a sentence is commonly asked. Here in this lesson, we will learn when and how to use Spanish upside-down question and exclamation marks.

Upside down question marks in Spanish

Upside-down question mark

When to use?

Inverted question and exclamation marks are punctuation marks. They are used to begin interrogative and exclamatory clauses or sentences respectively. 

How to use?

While the ending marks are put along the baseline of a sentence, the inverted question and exclamation marks (¿ and ¡) descend below the line. They go at the beginning part of the question or exclamation, not at the beginning of the sentence if the two are different. So you can tell long before the end of a sentence whether you're dealing with a question when a sentence doesn't start with a question word.

See also: Spanish question words

For example:

Pablo, ¿adónde vas? - Pablo, where are you going?

Estoy cansado, ¿y tú? - I'm tired, are you?

Note:

  • The first letter in the question or exclamation parts will not be capitalized unless it's capitalized by default. For example: a person's name

See: Capitalization rules in Spanish

  • If words that are not part of the question come after the question, the ending question mark still comes at the end

For example:

¿Adónde vas, John? (Where are you going, John?)

John, ¿adónde vas, mi amigo? - John, where are you going, my friend?

  • If a sentence is a question and an exclamation at the same time, you can combine both question and exclamation marks. 

For example:

¿Cómo lo hace! - How does she do it? or I don't see how she does it! (said in an incredulous tone) 

¡Me quieres? - You love me? (a lack of belief in what is being responded to)

¡¿Qué viste?! - What in the world do you see?

¿¡Qué estás diciendo!? - What are you saying? (show disbelief)

  • You can use two or three upside-down exclamation points to show an extremely strong exclamation. 

For example:

¡¡¡Idiota!!! - Idiot!

Es imposible. ¡¡¡No lo creo.!!! - It's impossible. I can't believe it!

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