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Puntuación: signos de interrogación y de exclamación

Punctuation: question and exclamation marks

Los signos de interrogación (Question marks)

Question marks are used in Spanish to indicate that the sentence between the symbols is a question. In Spanish, unlike in English, there are two symbols: one that opens the question and another that closes it. It is obligatory to use both symbols. Have a look:

- ¿Cuál es tu coche? - El blanco.- Which one is your car? - The white one.

¿Cómo has llegado hasta aquí?How did you get here?

¿Dónde celebrarás tu cumpleaños?Where will you celebrate your birthday?

Note that the opening mark has the dot at the top and the closing mark has the dot at the bottom:

 ¿ ... ?

There should not be any space between the question marks and the letter just after or before it.

After a question mark, there should not be a full stop [US: period].

This would be incorrect: 

María, ¿por qué has venido?. Te dije que te quedaras en casa.

María, why did you come? I told you to stay at home.


Los signos de exclamación/admiración (Exclamation marks)

Spanish exclamation marks give the sentence between the symbols a specific intonation: they give emphasis to the sentence with the idea of attracting the listener's or reader's attention. They show some kind of emotion: surprise, sadness, happiness, admiration, etc.

There are two symbols in Spanish - the opening sign has the dot at the top and the closing sign at the bottom. Both are obligatory:

¡ !

Here are some examples:

¡Qué pasteles más ricos!What tasty cakes!

¡Qué pena!What a pity!

¡Cuánto me estoy acordando de ti!I'm remembering so much about you! [lit: How much I am remembering you!]

After an exclamation point, there should not be a full stop [US: period].

This would be incorrect: 

María, ¡Cuánto tiempo!. La última vez que te vi tenías 15 años.

María, it's been so long!  Last time I saw you, you were 15 years old.

For both interrogative and exclamatory sentences, the opening symbols may not always be placed at the beginning of a sentence. The opening sign is placed just before the word where the question or exclamation begins. For example:

Oye, Marta, ¿cuándo sale nuestro vuelo?Hey, Marta, when is our flight departing?

Si te gusta bailar, ¿por qué no te apuntas a mis clases de salsa?If you like dancing, why don't you sign up for my salsa classes?

Me he quedado boquiabierta, ¡qué vestido de novia más bonito!My jaw dropped, it was such a beautiful wedding dress!

Clever stuff happening!