Exclamation and Question Marks . Two instead one.


Exclamation and Question Marks .

One of the questions that appear repeatedly among Spanish speakers who are learning to speak English and among English speakers who are learning to speak Spanish is the difference that have both languages on exclamation and question marks .



In both cases, the Spanish language makes use of signs at the beginning of the expressions, as well as the final signs that are the ones that are used in language English.

In fact, computer keyboards used to Spanish and English, are different, which is necessary because both types of initial signs that are used in Spanish, are signs with “upside down” with respect to the final signs. I.e., in Spanish we have “¿” and “?” for interrogation and “¡” and “!” for admiration.

In general, most of the time we accept these rules as a fact without asking us why, but as in most of the grammatical rules, there are explanations justifying why or not of use in both languages.

Signs of admiration or exclamation.

In the case of signs of admiration, the difference exists basically because the type of intonation used in both languages.exclamation and question marks

According to RAE, sentences that express emotions such as surprise, joy, enthusiasm, pleasure, sadness, outrage, regret, chagrin, disgust, rage, etc., should be enclosed from the beginning to the end between exclamation, requiring thus, for every phrase that expresses an emotion with different qualifiers.

¡Que linda es esa Muchacha!

How cute is that girl!

Ese olor es muy fuerte, ¡que desagradable!

That smell is very strong, how unpleasant!

¡Tramposo! ¡Deshonesto! ¡No jugare mas contigo!

Cheat! Dishonest! I won’t play with you anymore!

The other use in which the RAE specifies the use of them signs of admiration, is for the interjections or words exclamatory such as:

¡Hola!, Mi nombre es Alan.

Hello!, My name is Alan

¡Adiós! Nos vemos mañana.

Goodbye! See you tomorrow

¡Ay!, Me golpeaste en la cabeza.

Ouch! You hit me on the head

¡Oh! Disculpa, no me di cuenta.

Oh! Sorry, I didn’t realize



Question marks.

In the case of the question marks, the RAE also specifies the use to open and close the interrogative sentence, and although it does not refer exclamation and question marksto the comparison with the English language, clarifies that the intonation to ask begins since you first start to pronounce the sentence.

It is important to note, that unlike the English, syntax or form of construction of sentences in Spanish, allows the use of a same word order in sentences expressing assertion, question mark and exclamation, differing only by the intonation of the person talking.

Let’s see the use of exclamation and question marks with an example:

Tipo de Oración / Sentence Type
Afirmativa / Affirmative Interrogativa / Interrogative Exclamativa / Exclamatory
Tu tienes hambre

You are hungry

¿Tu tienes hambre?

Are you hungry?

¡Tu tienes hambre!

You are hungry!

Tu perro es negro

Your Dog is Black

¿Tu perro es negro?

Is your dog black?

¡Tu perro es negro!

Your dog is black!

Tu juegas beisbol

You play baseball

¿Tu juegas beisbol?

Do you play baseball?

¡Tu juegas beisbol!

You play baseball!

Important Tip:

In the case of both languages, speaking, intonation is enough to determine the type of sentence, but in the case of writing and reading, Spanish language requires the first exclamation and question marks to properly interpret the type of sentence.

In this latter case, English Speakers detected the sense questioning starting to read without initial signs, since according to the syntax of exclamation and question marksEnglish, question forms are:

  • Starting the sentence with the verb to be.
  • Starting the sentence with the words: Who, Whom, Whose, Why, What, Where, etc.
  • Starting the sentence with the auxiliary verbs: to do, to have, would, may, can, etc.

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Written By Alberto Otano

One Comment on “Exclamation and Question Marks . Two instead one.

  1. Daisy Reply

    May 7, 2017 at 8:48

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