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Understanding Spanish Punctuation: Ideas, Tips, and Extra

Commas as an alternative of decimals? The other way up query marks? When language learners come throughout these and different Spanish punctuation marks, they might cease and scratch their head. We are likely to assume that punctuation works the identical in all languages, but it surely’s not so!

Although the general ideas are usually related with regards to marks like intervals or commas, there are numerous methods during which Spanish punctuation differs. It’s enjoyable to study concerning the particular makes use of of those symbols in Spanish—they add character to a language already wealthy with nuance. 

If you wish to higher perceive the significance of Spanish punctuation, vocabulary, grammar, and extra, Rosetta Stone’s immersive classes might help you enhance your information. Out there in Latin American Spanish or Peninsular (Spain) Spanish, every lesson helps you construct your abilities to get you conversation-ready very quickly. 

What are the primary variations between Spanish and English punctuation?

Punctuation is helpful in all circumstances, each after we’re studying silently or out loud. It helps us to know when sentences finish, statements pause, and questions inflect. Now that you realize that punctuation isn’t the identical throughout all languages, let’s have a look at a number of the principal variations between Spanish and English punctuation.

Commas are normally used for decimals

We usually see commas used to point the decimal place like this:

650,30 = 650.30

Nonetheless, often you’ll see intervals employed for decimals as they’re in most publications in the USA and Britain. Each are appropriate in Spanish, however commas are used extra often. 

Questions require two query marks—one among which is the other way up

To introduce a query in Spanish, we use the inverted query mark at first and the common query mark on the finish. This instantly clues the reader into the truth that it’s a query, which additionally helps with intonation when studying aloud.

¿Qué es tu nombre? = What’s your identify?

This particularly helps with questions which can be merely inflected statements:

¿Y son cosas buenas? = And so they’re good issues?


Exclamations additionally require two marks

Just like query marks, exclamatory phrases require two marks: one inverted mark at first of the exclamation and one on the finish.

¡Qué calor hace! = How scorching it’s!

Comillas are most well-liked over English citation marks 

Comillas are Spanish citation marks. They’re also referred to as Spanish or angular quotes or brackets. Typically you’ll hear them referred to as French quotes (guillemets). Irrespective of how they’re referred to, they appear like this:

Pablo suspiró y dijo, «Supongo que puedo esperar». 

Pablo sighed and mentioned, “I suppose I can wait.”

Observe that not like in American English, Spanish citation marks go earlier than the punctuation. Each now and again, you’ll see a Spanish e book use English citation marks, but it surely’s not quite common. 

Lengthy dashes get used for dialogs and the spacing is totally different

When dialogue seems at first of a paragraph in a novel, Spanish makes use of a protracted sprint (em sprint) to point the shift. Examine this to English, the place you’d use citation marks. There are specific spacing guidelines that accompany this sprint: there ought to all the time be an area after the road of dialogue and earlier than the speaker. 

—¿Te puedo ayudar en algo? —preguntó el empleado. = “Can I make it easier to with one thing? requested the worker.”

If the dialogue continues, then we use one other sprint with no area after noting who has spoken.

—¿Le puedo ayudar en algo? —preguntó el empleado—. ¿O ha terminado con su compra? = “Can I make it easier to with one thing?” requested the worker. “Or have you ever completed buying?”

If the speaker quotes another person within the dialogue, we use angular quotes. Examine this to English, the place we might use a singular quote. 

—Me he cansado de tu «no puedo más» —enfatizó el entrenador. = “I’ve grown bored with your ‘I can’t go on,’ ” the coach emphasised.


Methods to Use Every Spanish Punctuation Mark

Let’s check out how every Spanish employs every punctuation mark. Realizing these guidelines might help you learn and write successfully in Spanish! 

Coma (comma) 

In Spanish, comas (commas) are used to point decimals, separate objects in an inventory, and set off interjections. Right here’s the total listing of their makes use of beneath with examples that will help you contextualize every rule. 

Cuesta 20,50 por kilo. = It prices 20.50 per kilo.

  • To introduce a subordinate clause: 

Después de la fiesta, vamos a tu casa. = After the get together, we’re going to your home.

  • To separate objects in an inventory: 

Compramos peras, manzanas y naranjas. = We purchased pears, apples and oranges.

  • To separate two unbiased clauses for readability: 

Compramos peras, manzanas y naranjas, y luego hicimos el ponche. 

We purchased pears, apples and oranges, after which we made the punch.

Y dijo, «Adiós, Adela». = And he mentioned, “Goodbye, Adela.”

  • To make use of as an appositive or relative clause, which describes or clarifies one thing or somebody in additional element: 

Carlos, el hermano de mi mejor amiga = Carlos, my greatest buddy’s brother

  • To set off interjections: 

¡Uf, he salido mal en matemáticas! = Oh, I’ve completed poorly in math!

lunes, 15 de septiembre = Monday, September 15 

Comillas (citation marks)

As defined within the part above, comillas are Spanish citation marks. They’re fairly distinctive, and also you received’t see them utilized in American English. You’ll, nonetheless, see related marks utilized in common programming languages, like Java! 

In Spanish, you’ll use comillas to point strains of dialogue or cite info. They’re most notably used for quotes inside quotes, particularly when the preliminary citation begins with a protracted sprint. 

Studying is an superior means to enhance your Spanish comprehension and increase your vocabulary. Curl up with e book and see firsthand how comillas are used! 

Corchetes (brackets) 

Spanish chorchetes (brackets) are a simple transition, even for readers new to Spanish. They mirror their English functions, and so they’re pretty easy. 

  • Used for parentheses inside parentheses: 

(lavanda [Lamiaceae]) = (lavender [Lamiaceae])

  • Utilized to point {that a} quote has been barely modified: 

«Son otras [personas] ahora». = “These are totally different [people] now.”


Dos puntos (colon)

In Spanish, dos puntos (colons) are used to introduce phrases, lists, and quotes. Most notably, they’re used after greetings, significantly in formal letters. Check out the listing beneath. 

  • To introduce a phrase with an emphasised pause: 

Te diré lo que me importa: me importas tú. 

I’ll inform you what’s necessary to me: you’re.

  • To put in writing a subtitle of a e book: 

Mi vida: recuerdos de una vida bien vivida = My Life: Recollections of a Life Properly Lived

Vamos a leer: Cervantes, Poniatowska, Cortázar y Beltrán.

We’re going to learn: Cervantes, Poniatowska, Cortázar y Beltrán.

  • To introduce a conclusion or a consequence: 

Hoy hay una tormenta: no vamos al parque.

There’s a storm at this time: we’re not going to the park.

Chavela Vargas dijo: «Los mexicanos nacimos donde nos da la gana».

Chavela Vargas mentioned, “We Mexicans are born wherever we really feel prefer it.”

Querido Juan: = Expensive John,

Son las 10:30. = It’s 10:30.

Paréntesis (parentheses)

In Spanish, paréntesis (parentheses) are used to surround further info or provide different info. Try the total listing of makes use of beneath. 

  • Used to surround further info: 

Vivo en Madrid (en el barrio de La Latina). = I reside in Madrid (in La Latina neighborhood).

  • Employed to supply different info:

Busco un chico(a) para andar en bici los fines de semana. 

In search of a man (gal) for bike using on the weekends.

  • Usually used to attribute a quote: 

«Donde haya un árbol que plantar, plántalo tú». (Gabriela Mistral)

Wherever a tree wants planting, you plant it. –Gabriela Mistral

Punto (interval)

In Spanish, puntos (intervals) perform precisely as they do in English. No surprises right here! 

  • Used on the finish of a sentence when different punctuation isn’t utilized.
  • Nonetheless, whenever you’re closing a quote with a query mark or exclamation mark, place a interval on the finish. For instance: 

Elena preguntó: «¿Has lavado tu ropa?».

Elena requested, “Have you ever washed your garments?”

Sra. Martínez = Mrs. Martínez.

Punto y coma (semicolon)

In Spanish, a punto y coma (semicolon) isn’t all that frequent. When it’s used, you’ll discover it mirrors English usages, too. 

  • Separate lists that embrace different punctuation: 

Queremos un departamento lindo con dos recámaras, pero no muy grandes; una lavadora; y mucha luz.

We wish a pleasant condominium with two bedrooms, however not too massive; a washer; and many gentle.

  • Employed to separate two associated full phrases in a sentence, giving extra pause than a comma: 

Cenamos; fuimos a dormir. = We ate dinner; we went to mattress.


Puntos suspensivos (ellipses)

Puntos suspensivos (ellipses) are aptly named. Suspensivo means “suspensive,” or to trigger suspense, which is strictly how they perform! You’ll usually see them used on the finish of an unfinished sentence in literature…the sort that leaves you on the sting of your seat. 

  • Used when a sentence or phrase trails off: 

No sé qué decir, pero… = I don’t know what to say, however…

  • In a quote, used to point that a part of it has been omitted: 

«El infierno y el paraíso…  los hombres no merecen tanto» (Jorge Luis Borges) = “Hell and heaven…males don’t deserve a lot.”–Jorge Luis Borges

Raya (lengthy [em] sprint)

Many writers like to make use of the raya (em sprint) for added emphasis—a visible cue to the reader that what’s mentioned after the em sprint is very necessary. In Spanish, there may be all the time an area earlier than the primary sprint and after the second. 

No vamos a ir a la playa –insisto yo– porque Mayra está enferma.

We’re not going to the seashore–I insist–as a result of Mayra is sick.

In Spanish, em dashes are additionally used to introduce strains of dialogue. Observe that an em sprint (—) is totally different from an everyday sprint (-). Don’t be tempted to make use of them interchangeably! 

Signos de exclamación (exclamation factors) 

Exclamation factors point out pleasure, enthusiasm, urgency, and anger. In Spanish, they’re utilized in pairs, much like query marks. To make use of them appropriately, you’ll embrace one exclamation mark at first of a sentence and one on the finish. 

¡Vamos ahora! = Let’s go now!.

Signos de interrogación (query marks

When you get used to the the other way up query mark, their utilization is easy.  Use an inverted one at first and a traditional one on the finish: 

¿Qué haces, abuela? = What are you doing, Grandma?

Checklist of Spanish punctuation marks 

Searching for the the other way up query mark, comillas, and extra? Copy and paste punctuation marks from the listing beneath! 

Spanish Image English
coma , comma
comillas « » citation marks
corchetes [ ] brackets
dos puntos : colon
paréntesis ( ) parentheses
punto . interval
punto y coma ; semicolon
puntos suspensivos ellipses
raya lengthy (em) sprint
signos de exclamación ¡ ! exclamation mark(s)
signos de interrogación ¿ ? query mark(s)

Are accent marks thought of punctuation marks?

You could discover it attention-grabbing to notice that Spanish distinguishes between accents and punctuation. Certainly, in line with the Royal Academia Española, there are three classes of marks that go over or close to letters/phrases: diacritic marks (accents), punctuation marks (coma, comilla, corchete, dos puntos, signos de interrogación y exclamación, paréntesis, punto, puntos suspensivos, punto y coma, and raya), and auxiliary marks (llave, guion, barra, asterisco, apóstrofe).

To study extra about accent marks, take a look at our information on when to make use of them, how they have an effect on pronunciation, and find out how to sort them on any keyboard! 

Grasp Spanish punctuation with Rosetta Stone

For some, Spanish punctuation is fascinating: Intervals as an alternative of commas! Inverted query marks! For others, it’s one small drop within the ocean that’s studying and enhancing Spanish abilities. Whichever group you end up in, it’s useful to know the way they work. Studying and writing, in spite of everything, can considerably enhance your comprehension and make it easier to conquer real-world conversations! 

Now that you simply’ve mastered these guidelines, you’re properly in your strategy to tackling larger ideas. Rosetta Stone might help you are taking the subsequent step—whether or not you’re new to Spanish or able to swim in deeper water. Our immersive classes continue learning enjoyable and fascinating, whereas TruAccent helps you enhance your pronunciation with fast in-app suggestions. You received’t study like this on another platform. 

Written by Rowena Galavitz

Rowena Galavitz is a Spanish translator, bilingual copy editor, and language and literature teacher with three grasp’s levels who loves Spanish and all issues Mexico.



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