How to use upside down question marks in Spanish: A top guide

So, what’s the deal with the upside-down question marks in Spanish?

If you’re learning Spanish, you might have noticed that questions start with an upside-down question mark. ¿Huh?

If you don’t speak Spanish, this little grammar quirk might seem silly or even redundant. After all, isn’t one question mark enough? Well, while that might be the case for languages like English, there’s a pretty good reason why inverted question marks are helpful in Spanish.

Not only are they helpful, but they’re strictly required. Not using an inverted question mark at the beginning of an interrogative sentence or clause would be considered a grammatical mistake and something you definitely want to avoid during Spanish class or when speaking Spanish for business.

So, how do upside-down interrogation marks work in Spanish? Let us tell you all about them!

What is the upside down question mark in Spanish?

What is the upside-down question mark in Spanish?

The upside-down question mark indicates that an interrogative sentence or clause is about to begin. Just as English questions end in a question mark, Spanish questions both start and end in a question mark. That makes it even easier to figure out when a question begins and ends in Spanish.

Using this mark correctly will help you ask all kinds of questions in Spanish, such as:

And so much more!

Why does Spanish have an upside-down question mark?

Spanish uses an upside-down question mark because the Spanish question structure doesn’t change from an indicative (or statement) structure. This means that the reader would have no indication that a sentence is a question until reaching the question mark at the end of the sentence. So, the inverted question mark at the beginning of the sentence lets you know from the start that you’re dealing with a question.

Check out the following comparisons between English and Spanish statements and questions. You’ll notice that English doesn’t need an upside-down question mark since the sentence structure is different, which will let readers know that what they’re about to read is a question.

You have food.Tienes comida.ˈtjenes koˈmiða ‖tee-ehn-ness co-me-da
Do you have food?¿Tienes comida?ˈtjenes koˈmiða ‖tee-ehn-ness co-me-da
She has graduated from college already.Ella ya se graduó de la universidad.ˈeʎa ʝa se ɣɾaˈðwo ðe la wniβeɾsiˈðað ‖eh-yah ya seh grah-do-oh deh la oo-nee-vehr-see-dahd
Has she graduated from college already?¿Ella ya se graduó de la universidad?ˈeʎa ʝa se ɣɾaˈðwo ðe la wniβeɾsiˈðað ‖eh-yah ya seh grah-do-oh deh la oo-nee-vehr-see-dahd
They’re all going to Juliana’s party on Saturday.Todos ellos van a ir a la fiesta de Juliana el sábado.ˈtoðos ˈeʎoz ˈβan a ˈiɾ a la ˈfjesta ðe xuˈljana el ˈsaβaðo ‖toe-dos eh-yos vahn ah eer ah la fee-ess-tah deh who-lee-ah-na elle sah-bah-doh
Are they all going to Juliana’s party on Saturday?¿Todos ellos van a ir a la fiesta de Juliana el sábado?ˈtoðos ˈeʎoz ˈβan a ˈiɾ a la ˈfjesta ðe xuˈljana el ˈsaβaðo ‖toe-dos eh-yos vahn ah eer ah la fee-ess-tah deh who-lee-ah-na elle sah-bah-doh

As you can see from the example sentences above, the Spanish examples don’t change at all from indicative to interrogative mode. Without the correct punctuation, you’d have no way to figure out if you’re dealing with a question!

What about question words?

If you’ve already seen our guide to question words in Spanish, then you might be wondering if question words impact the use of the upside-down question mark or if it makes it redundant. The answer is, ¡no!

That’s because question words like qué, cuál, and cómo are also used as exclamation words. So, without the inverted question mark (or inverted exclamation mark, more on that below), you wouldn’t know if you’re dealing with a question or an exclamation. So, the Spanish inverted question mark is always necessary with or without question words!

How to use the upside-down question mark in Spanish

Using the inverted question mark is extremely easy. If you’re already used to using a question mark at the end of a sentence, then you won’t have any trouble understanding how to use an inverted question mark in Spanish. Simply add one at the beginning of a question, and that’s it!

Here are some examples:

What’s your name?¿Cómo te llamas?ˈkomo te ˈʎamas ‖koh-mo teh yah-mass?
How are you?¿Cómo estás?ˈkomo esˈtas ‖koh-mo ess-tass?
Who is she?¿Quién es ella?ˈkjen ˈes ˈeʎa ‖key-ehn ess eh-yah?

Using the upside-down question mark mid-sentence

If you’re more experienced with Spanish, you might’ve seen some sentences that turn into questions halfway through. When that’s the case, you can use the upside-down exclamation point after you’ve started your sentence.

This is very common when only one clause within a sentence is a question. A clause is a part of a sentence that contains a subject and a predicate, and may be independent or combined with other clauses in a single sentence. Let’s take a look at the following example:

  • Yo me llamo Marco, ¿tú cómo te llamas?

We have two clauses in this example: Yo me llamo Marco (My name is Marco) and ¿tú cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?). Note that the first class is simply a statement, while the second clause is a question. Therefore, it would be incorrect to use an upside-down interrogation mark at the very beginning of the sentence, as the first clause is indicative rather than interrogative.

Here are some other examples:

I want to go to the store to buy something to eat, do you want me to bring you anything?Quiero ir a la tienda a comprar algo de comer, ¿quieres que te traiga algo?ˈkjeɾo ˈiɾ a la ˈtjenda a komˈpɾaɾ ˈalɣo ðe koˈmeɾ | ˈkjeɾes ˈke te ˈtɾajɣa ˈalɣo ‖key-air-oh eer ah la tee-ehn-dah a com-prahr all-go deh koh-mehr, key-air-ess keh teh trah-e-gah all-go?
We’re going to dinner at a restaurant, where do you recommend we should go?Vamos a ir a cenar a un restaurante, ¿a dónde nos recomiendas ir?ˈbamos a ˈiɾ a θeˈnaɾ a wn restawˈɾante | a ˈðonde noz rekoˈmjendas ˈiɾ ‖vah-moss ah eer ah seh-nahr ah oon ress-tah-ooh-rahn-teh, ah dohn-deh noss reh-coh-me-ehn-dass eer?
Last time we came to Bogota, we went to a really good contemporary art museum, do you remember what it was called?La vez pasada que vinimos a Bogotá fuimos a un museo de arte contemporánea muy bueno, ¿te acuerdas cómo se llama?la ˈβeθ paˈsaða ˈke βiˈnimos a βoɣoˈta ˈfwimos a wm muˈseo ðe ˈaɾte kontempoˈɾanea muj ˈβweno | te aˈkweɾðas ˈkomo se ˈʎama ‖la vehs pah-sah-dah keh vee-nee-moss ah bo-go-tah foo-eh-moss ah oon moo-seh-oh deh ar-teh con-tem-poh-rah-neh-ah mooy boo-eh-noh, teh ah-coo-air-dass koh-mo seh ya-mah?

In some cases, you may also use exclamation points around single words. This is common when making statements that are more like suggestions or facts to be double-checked. English uses this quite often too, so you’re probably already familiar with this structure. Just take a look at the following examples and you’ll see what we mean:

You’re coming to my birthday party, right?Vas a venir a mi fiesta de cumpleaños, ¿verdad?ˈbas a βeˈniɾ a mi ˈfjesta ðe kumpleˈaɲos | beɾˈðað ‖vas ah veh-neer a mi fee-ess-tah deh coom-pleh-ah-nyoss, vehr-dahd?
Let’s eat at home instead, no?Mejor hay que comer aquí en la casa, ¿no?meˈxoɾ ˈaj ˈke koˈmeɾ aˈki en la ˈkasa | ˈno ‖meh-hohr I keh koh-mehr ah-key ehn la ca-sah, noh?
Are we staying here all night or what?Vamos a quedarnos aquí toda la noche, ¿o qué?ˈbamos a keˈðaɾnos aˈki ˈtoða la ˈnoʧe | o ˈke ‖vah-moss ah keh-dahr-noss ah-key toe-dah la noh-che, oh keh?

What is the upside-down exclamation points in Spanish?

What about upside-down exclamation points in Spanish?

Upside-down exclamation points are also used in Spanish, and they follow the exact same rules as inverted question marks! You use them to start exclamation clauses, which means that the inverted exclamation mark may or may not be at the beginning of the sentence.

Here are some examples of exclamation sentences in Spanish.

Maria, it’s so nice to see you!¡María! ¡Qué gusto verte!maˈɾia ‖ ˈke ˈɣusto ˈβeɾte ‖mah-ree-ah! keh goose-toe vehr-teh!
We will miss you a lot!¡Te vamos a extrañar muchísimo!te ˈβamos a ekstɾaˈɲaɾ muˈʧisimo ‖teh vah-moss ah ex-trah-nyar moo-chee-see-mo!
I can’t believe it!¡No lo puedo creer!ˈno lo ˈpweðo kɾeˈeɾ ‖Noh loh poo-eh-doh kreh-ehr!

Can you use inverted question marks and exclamation points together?

Of course! Just combine both the interrogation and exclamation points in the same sentence or clause. Most people use both pairs when asking a question that is also an exclamation (¿¡Qué!?), although the Real Academia Española states that you can also choose to open with the exclamation mark and close with the question mark (¡Qué?) or vice versa (¿Qué!). However, using both pairs is infinitely more common, so it’s best to stick to those rather than mixing and matching.

Here are some examples:

How dare you!?¿¡Cómo te atreves!?ˈkomo te aˈtɾeβes ‖koh-mo teh ah-treh-vess!?
What!? What do you mean Felipe told Maritza that I’m dating Fernando!?¡¿Qué?! ¡¿Cómo que Felipe le dijo a Maritza que estoy saliendo con Fernando?!ˈke ‖ ˈkomo ˈke feˈlipe le ˈðixo a maˈɾitθa ˈke esˈtoj saˈljendo kom feɾˈnando ‖keh!? koh-mo keh feh-lee-peh leh dee-ho ah mah-ree-tza keh ess-toy sah-lee-ehn-doe cohn fehr-nahn-doe?!
I studied art in college, how could I not know who Henri Matisse was!?Estudié arte en la universidad, ¿¡cómo no iba a saber quién es Henri Matisse!?estuˈðje ˈaɾte en la wniβeɾsiˈðað | ˈkomo ˈno ˈiβa a saˈβeɾ ˈkjen ˈes ˈenri maˈtisse ‖ess-too-dee-eh ahr-teh ehn la oo-nee-vehr-see-dahd, koh-moh no ee-bah ah sah-behr key-ehn ess Henri Matisse!?

How to type inverted punctuation marks in Spanish

So, at this point, you might be thinking, “Okay, that’s great, but I don’t see an upside-down question mark on my keyboard?” Well, the good news is, you won’t have to buy a whole new device just to use them! Here’s how to type them on most devices:


Using upside-down punctuation in iPhones is remarkably easy. The following shortcuts work across iOS devices, so you can also use these to find these Spanish punctuations on your iPad.

Upside-down question marks on iPhone:

Simply tap and hold the normal question mark and you’ll see a pop-up with the upside-down question mark.

Upside-down exclamation mark on iPhone:

You can find the upside-down exclamation mark on your iPhone in the exact same way as the upside-down exclamation mark. Simply find the normal exclamation mark, tap and hold, and you’ll see a pop-up with an upside-down exclamation mark.

Android phones

You can find upside-down question and exclamation marks in the same place on Android devices. First, you’ll need to navigate to the “sym” tab in your mobile keyboard. Then, go to the second page. You’ll be able to find both punctuations there.


You can use keyboard shortcuts to type upside-down punctuation on a Mac. Keep in mind that your computer’s keyboard will have different shortcuts depending on the country of purchase. Here are the shortcuts for Macs with a US keyboard:

Upside-down question marks on a Mac:

  • Shift + option + ? = ¿

Upside-down exclamation mark on a Mac:

  • Option + 1 + ¡


Finding the upside-down punctuation marks is a bit tricky on a PC. There are a few different shortcuts that may not work for all computers. Here are some of the most common:

Upside-down question marks on a PC:

  • When using Word: Ctrl + Alt + Shift + / = ¿
  • Otherwise: Alt + 168 = ¿
  • Alternative: Set your keyboard’s language to Spanish. You will then have an easier shortcut to use inverted punctuations, and all you need to do to switch between your keyboards is hit Alt + Shift.

Upside-down exclamation mark on a PC:

  • Alt + 0161

FAQs about inverted punctuation in Spanish

Is upside-down punctuation always used?

Although using upside-down punctuation is always grammatically necessary, it isn’t always used. If you’re texting with your friends or just writing Spanish informally, you don’t really need to worry about using inverted punctuation. Especially when using Spanish slang, most people just ignore the inverted punctuation.

In fact, it might come across as a bit formal and cold if you use inverted exclamation or question marks when speaking to your friends. So, if you’re texting your friends, don’t be afraid to break this grammar rule!

Why doesn’t English have an upside-down question mark?

English doesn’t use them because the question sentence structure is different from the indicative sentence structure. That means that you’ll be able to tell right away that you’re dealing with a question rather than a statement, which would make the upside-down question mark redundant.

Do all Spanish-speaking countries use the upside-down exclamation mark?

Yes! All Spanish-speaking countries use inverted question marks and exclamation marks. So, no matter where you are, you’ll need to be familiar with the inverted punctuations.

Is Spanish the only language with inverted punctuation?

Yes and no. Spanish is the only major language that uses inverted punctuation. Other languages closely related to Spanish, like Asturian, Galician, and Samarenian also use it. Other languages like Catalan make using the inverted question mark entirely optional for their users.

Spanish upside-down question marks are easy, ¿no?

Now that you know why inverted question marks are a thing in Spanish, you probably wish that more languages used it, ¿no? Not only are inverted question marks easy to use, but they also help you identify questions right off the bat so you don’t miss a beat when reading in Spanish. ¿¡What’s not to like about them!?

For more helpful tips about Spanish grammar and vocabulary, check out our Spanish blog. We regularly upload blog posts on a wide range of topics, from using demonstrative adjectives in Spanish to useful business topics like our guide to acing a Spanish job interview.

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