Most of us are familiar with standard punctuation marks such as the period, comma, and question mark. However, there are also inverted punctuation marks that are used at the beginning of sentences in Spanish. These inverted marks, such as the upside down exclamation point (¡), are used in Spanish to indicate exclamatory or interrogative sentences and aid in reading comprehension.
The use of inverted punctuation marks in Spanish helps distinguish between statements and questions, as the wording of sentences in Spanish can often be the same. For example, to turn the statement “Te gusta bailar” (You like to dance) into a question, the inverted question mark “¿” can be added at the beginning, and a regular question mark can be added at the end to form “¿Te gusta bailar?” (Do you like to dance?). Similarly, to turn it into an exclamatory sentence, the inverted exclamation point “¡” can be added at the beginning, forming “¡Te gusta bailar!” (You like to dance!).
While inverted punctuation marks were introduced in the 18th century by the Royal Spanish Academy, they have gained universal acceptance among native Spanish and Latin-American Spanish speakers. It is recommended to use inverted punctuation marks when writing in Spanish to avoid confusion and misunderstanding.
If you are typing in Spanish on a standard English QWERTY keyboard, it can be a challenge to type these inverted punctuation marks directly. However, there are several ways to type the upside down exclamation point using keyboard shortcuts and software such as the Character Map.
For example, on a Windows computer with a numeric keypad, you can use the Alt code Alt + 0161 to type the upside down exclamation point. On a Mac, the shortcut is Option + 1. And in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, you can use the built-in symbol insertion tool to easily insert the inverted exclamation point.
If these methods do not work for you, the Character Map can be used to find and copy the upside down exclamation point and paste it into your document.
It is important to note that the use of inverted punctuation marks is specific to the Spanish language, and they are not commonly used in English. Therefore, they may not be readily available on standard English keyboards.