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Inverted question and exclamation marks: Wikis


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apostrophe ( ' )
brackets ( [ ], ( ), { }, ⟨ ⟩ )
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( , , , )
ellipses ( , ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( -, )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( ‘ ’, “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/stroke ( / )
solidus ( )
Word dividers
spaces ( ) () () ( ) () () ()
interpunct ( · )
General typography
ampersand ( & )
at sign ( @ )
asterisk ( * )
backslash ( \ )
bullet ( )
caret ( ^ )
copyright symbol ( © )
currency generic: ( ¤ )
specific: ฿, ¢, $, , ƒ, , , , £, , ¥, , ,
daggers ( , )
degree ( ° )
ditto mark ( )
inverted exclamation mark ( ¡ )
inverted question mark ( ¿ )
number sign/pound/hash ( # )
numero sign ( )
ordinal indicator (º, ª)
percent (etc.) ( %, ‰, )
pilcrow ( )
prime ( )
registered trademark ( ® )
section sign ( § )
service mark ( )
sound recording copyright symbol ( )
tilde ( ~ )
trademark ( )
underscore/understrike ( _ )
vertical/broken bar, pipe ( |, ¦ )
Uncommon typography
asterism ( )
falsum ( )
index/fist ( )
therefore sign ( )
because sign ( )
interrobang ( )
irony mark/percontation point ( ؟ )
lozenge ( )
reference mark ( )
tie ( )

Inverted question and exclamation marks are punctuation marks used to begin interrogative and exclamatory sentences (or clauses), respectively, in written Spanish and sometimes also in languages which have cultural ties with Spanish, such as Galician. They can also be combined in several ways to express the combination of a question and surprise or disbelief. The initial marks are normally mirrored at the end of the sentence or clause by the common marks (?, !) used in most other languages, although the combinations ¡...? and ¿...! are also accepted as a less-preferred variation for the interrogative exclamation.[citation needed]

Inverted marks were originally recommended by the Real Academia Española (Spanish Royal Academy) in 1754, and adopted gradually over the next century.

On computers, inverted marks are supported by various standards, including ISO-8859-1, Unicode, and HTML. They can be entered directly on keyboards designed for Spanish-speaking countries, or via alternative methods on other keyboards.



The inverted question mark (¿) is a punctuation mark written before the first letter of an interrogative sentence or clause to indicate that a question follows. 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 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 — ¿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: Aunque no puedas 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 in which the writer does not use either opening symbol, neither the '¡' nor the '¿'. Standardised usage occurred because Spanish syntax often does not determine (for the reader) whether the sentence is interrogative. For example, without any punctuation indicating they are questions or not, the sentences: ¿Hablas bien castellano? ("Do you speak Spanish well?") and Hablas bien castellano ("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: Quién viene? ("Who comes?"). This is the criterion used in Catalan[citation needed] (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 to use the inverted question mark[citation needed]. 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 setting, 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[citation needed].

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: ¡Y tú quién te crees que eres? ("Who do you think you are?!"). Normally, the four signs are used, always with one type in the outer side and the other in the inner side (¿¡Y tú quién te crees que eres!?, ¡¿Y tú quién te crees que eres?! [1])

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".[2]

Input methods

The ¡ character is accessible using AltGr+1 on a modern US-International keyboard

"¿" is available in all keyboard layouts for Spanish-speaking countries. On English (US) keyboards under Microsoft Windows, the inverted question mark can be entered by holding down the Alt key and pressing 0191, 168, 5544, 01471, or 0215487 on the number pad. 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, Alt, and shift keys while typing a normal question or exclamation mark, or by typing either mark at the start of the sentence whilst in the Spanish language mode.

It should be noted that Windows users with a US keyboard-layout are able to switch to the US-International layout. This facilitates the use of international characters such as the inverted question mark/exclamation point. With the layout switched to US-International, one only needs to hold ctrl+alt+? to invert, and likewise to type an inverted 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, <LEFT SHIFT> + <RIGHT CTRL> , 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).

See also



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