Spanish punctuation

The purpose of this post is to give you a quick guide for Spanish punctuation. It is not hard and you do not need a whole course in Spanish grammar to understand a couple things about how to punctuate properly.

Comparing English and Spanish punctuation marks

Question marks and exclamation marks are the only real differences between the language punctuation in Spanish and English when it comes to the actual signs. Periods and commas are used the same.

Question and exclamation marks

The rule is this, in Spanish you use question and exclamation marks at both the the beginning and end of a word.

For Spanish puncuation question marks are used at the start and finish of the sentence.

For example:

  • ¿Qué quiere V.? (what do you want?)
  • ¡Cuántos sufrimientos! (how much suffering!)

Look at the beginning of the word. Note that at the beginning
the question and exclamation marks are up side down.

Spanish punctuate with an inverted exclamation mark

I have personally always found this curious, but if this is they way they punctuate in Spain and Mexico than when in Rome do as the Romans.

When to use capital letters in Spanish

Use capital letters the same was as in English, however, there are a couple of exceptions.

Capital letters in the Spanish language are used different compared to English.
  • Adjectives of nationality are written with small letters. Look at the following example:

Un libro inglés (an English book).

  • Days of the week generally (and sometimes the months of the year)
    are written with small letters. Look at the following examples:

I do not like Mondays. – No me gustan los Lunes.
Yesterday was Tuesday. – Ayer fue el martes.
Today is Wednesday. – Hoy es miércoles.
Tomorrow will be Thursday. – Mañana será el jueves.
On Friday I wear a Hawaiian shirt. -El viernes me pongo una camisa hawaiana.
On Saturday I sleep. – El sábado me duermo.
On Sunday I go to church. – El domingo voy a la iglesia.

For months in Spanish it is similar they do not take capital letters in contrast to English:

Hace frío en enero. – It is cold in January.
El mes de junio es hermoso. – The month of June is beautiful.
Otoño empieza en septiembre. – Autumn begins in September.
La Navidad es en diciembre. – Christmas is in December.

Compare the Spanish punctuation to the English punctuation above.  These are your main differences between the two languages’ punctuation.

Summary of punctuation differences between English and Spanish languages

  1. Exclamation and question marks are the beginning and end of a sentence and at the start they are inverted.
  2. Adjectives of nationalities are not capitalizes.
  3. Days of the week are not capitalizes.
  4. Months are not capitalized.

Actual signs or marks for punctuation in the Hispanic language

. punto — period
, coma — comma
¿ ? — principio y fin de interrogación — question marks
¡ ! — principio y fin de exclamación o admiración — exclamation points
; — punto y coma — semicolon
: dos puntos — colon
” — comillas — quotation marks – Note in Latin America, including Mexico they use « » while in Spain they use “” “”
‘ — comillas simples — single quotation marks
( ) — paréntesis — parenthesis
— raya — dash

You do not have to get too complicate with grammatical linguistics.  I believe simpler is better. That is it for how to punctuate in Spanish and the use of specific punctuation marks.

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