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Dealing with Unique Spanish Punctuation

One distinguishing feature of Spanish is its use of double punctuation in written questions and exclamations. Spanish uses punctuation to indicate the tone of what you’re writing at both the beginning and the end of any phrase that is a question or an exclamation, such as ¿Decía? (deh-seeah) (You were saying?) or ¡Decía! (dehsee-ah) (You were saying!). The mark at the beginning of the sentence is inverted, or upside down. The end mark is the same as the marks used in English.

This punctuation is the verbal equivalent of making gestures, which you can see in the following examples:

  • ¿Dónde está? (dohn-deh ehs-tah) (Where is it?)

  • ¡Qué maravilla! (keh mah-rah-bvee-yah) (How wonderful!)

Spanish appears to be the only language that provides this sort of punctuation. However, this punctuation is very useful when you have to read something aloud, because you know beforehand how to modulate your voice when the phrase is coming up.

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