Inverted question and exclamation marks

Inverted question and exclamation marks

The inverted question and exclamation marks are used to begin interrogative and exclamatory sentences respectively, in written Spanish. And formelly, in written Old Portuguese


The inverted question mark (¿) is a punctuation mark indicating a question that is written before the first letter of an interrogative sentence or clause. It is an inverted form of the standard symbol '?', recognized by speakers of languages written with the Latin alphabet.In most languages, a single question mark is used, and only at the end of an interrogative sentence: "How old are you?" This once was true of the Spanish language. The inverted question mark was adopted long after the Real Academia's decision, published in the second edition of _es. "La Ortografía de la Real Academia" [The Orthography of the Royal Academy] (1754) recommending it as the symbol indicating the beginning of a question in written Spanish — _es. "¿Cuántos años tienes?" ("How old are you?"). The Real Academia also ordered the same inverted-symbol system for statements of exclamation, using the symbols '¡' and '!'. In mixed, declarative / interrogative sentences, only the clause that states or asks is isolated with the starting-symbol inverted question mark, for example: _es. "Aunque no puedes ir con ellos, ¿quieres ir con nosotros?" (Although you can't go with them, would you like to go with us?)

These new rules were slowly adopted; there exist nineteenth-century books wherein the writer does not use either opening symbol, neither the '¡' or the '¿' In the event, standardised usage occurred because Spanish syntax often does not determine (for the reader) when a declarative sentence progress to a question. For example, without any punctuation indicating they are questions or not, the sentences: _es. "¿Hablas bien el español?" ("Do you speak Spanish well?") and _es. "Hablas bien el español" ("You speak Spanish well") are written identically. Within long sentences, using the inverted punctuation symbol indicates a question.

An alternative usage, narrowly adopted, was using the inverted question mark only when the question was long or when there was much risk of ambiguity; but not for short sentences or those that clearly are questions, such as: _es. "Quién viene?" ("Who goes there?"). This is the criterion used in Catalan (despite certain Catalan-language authorities, such as Joan Solà, insisting that both the opening- and closing-question marks should be used for clarity).

Some Spanish-language writers, among them Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda, refuse using the inverted question mark. It is common to Internet chat rooms and instant messaging now use only the single '?' as ending symbol for a question, since it saves typing time — using most keyboards, it is easier to type the end-symbol than the inverted opening-symbol, in lieu of that, duplicate end-symbols emphasize: "Por qué dices eso??" instead of the standard "¿Por qué dices eso?" ("Why do you say that?"). Given the informal settings, this might be unimportant; however, teachers see this as a problem, fearing and claiming that contemporary young people are inappropriately and incorrectly extending the practice to academic homework and essays Fact|date=September 2007, where it negatively counts as a language-usage error — one is ignorant of one's mother tongue.

Unspoken uncertainty is expressed in writing (informal notes, comics) with "¿?", and surprise with "¡!", but single interrogative "?" and exclamatory "!" symbols are used.

Mixtures of question marks and exclamation points

Although it has now become rare, it is actually correct usage in Spanish to begin a sentence with an opening inverted exclamation mark ('¡') and end it with a question mark ('?'), or vice-versa, for statements that are questions but also have a clear sense of exclamation or surprise such as: _es. Y tú quién te crees que eres?" ("Who do you think you are?!"). The aim is similar to that of the proposed English interrobang, for which there exists its inverted counterpart, dubbed gnaborretni (but it is almost not used at all). Normally, the four signs are used, always with one type in the outer side and the other in the inner side ( _es. "¿¡Y tú quién te crees que eres!?, _es. ¡¿Y tú quién te crees que eres?!" [RAE's [ Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas] es] )

Computer usage


"¡" and "¿" are both located within the Unicode Common block, and are both inherited from ISO-8859-1. "¡" has Unicode codepoint U+00A1 (decimal entity reference ¡) and HTML named entity reference ¡. "¿" has Unicode codepoint U+00BF (decimal entity reference ¿) and has HTML named entity reference ¿. In both cases, the "i" in the named entity reference is an initialism for "inverted". [ [ Character entity references in HTML 4] , W3C]

Input methods

"¿" is available in all keyboard layouts for Spanish-speaking countries. On English keyboards under Microsoft Windows, the inverted question mark can be entered by holding down the Alt key and pressing 0191, 168, or 5544 on the number pad (it can also be entered by holding down the Alt key and pressing 0215487). The inverted exclamation point can be entered by holding down the Alt key and pressing 0161, 173 or 8877 on the number pad. In Microsoft Word, the inverted question and exclamation marks can be typed by holding down the Ctrl and Alt keys while typing a normal question or exclamation mark.

On the Mac OS X platform (or when using the "US International"/us-intl keyboard layout on Windows and Linux), "¡" and "¿" can be entered by pressing Alt (option) + 1 and Shift + Alt (option) + / respectively. With a compose key, for example, + , they can be entered by pressing the compose key and ! or ? twice.

In LaTeX documents, the "¿" is written as "?`" (question mark, backtick), and "¡" as "!`" (exclamation point, backtick).

ee also

* Punctuation
* Catalan language
* Galician language
* Spanish language



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