Inverted question and exclamation marks facts for kids
Inverted question mark
Inverted exclamation mark
Inverted question marks (¿) and exclamation marks (Commonwealth English) or exclamation points (American English) (¡) are punctuation marks used to begin interrogative and exclamatory sentences (or clauses), respectively, in written Spanish and sometimes also in languages which have cultural ties with the Spanish, such as in the Galician and the Waray languages. They can also be combined in several ways to express the combination of a question and surprise or disbelief. The initial marks are normally mirrored at the end of the sentence or clause by the common marks (?, !) used in most other languages. Unlike the ending marks, which are printed along the baseline of a sentence, the inverted marks (¿ and ¡) descend below the line.
Inverted marks were originally recommended by the Real Academia Española (Royal Spanish Academy) in 1754, and adopted gradually over the next century.
On computers, inverted marks are supported by various standards, including ISO-8859-1, Unicode, and HTML. They can be entered directly on keyboards designed for Spanish-speaking countries, or via alternative methods on other keyboards.
The inverted question mark (¿) is a punctuation mark written before the first letter of an interrogative sentence or clause to indicate that a question follows. It is a rotated form of the standard symbol "?" recognized by speakers of languages written with the Latin alphabet. In most languages, a single question mark is used, and only at the end of an interrogative sentence: "How old are you?" This was once true of the Spanish language.
The inverted question mark was adopted long after the Real Academia's decision, published in the second edition of the Ortografía de la lengua castellana (Orthography of the Castilian language) in 1754 recommending it as the symbol indicating the beginning of a question in written Spanish—e.g. "¿Cuántos años tienes?" ("How old are you?"). The Real Academia also ordered the same inverted-symbol system for statements of exclamation, using the symbols "¡" and "!". This helps to recognize questions and exclamations in long sentences. "Do you like summer?" and "You like summer." are translated respectively as "¿Te gusta el verano?" and "Te gusta el verano." (There is not always a difference between the wording of a yes–no question and the corresponding statement in Spanish.) These new rules were slowly adopted; there exist 19th-century books in which the writer uses neither "¡" nor "¿".
In sentences that are both declarative and interrogative, the clause that asks a question is isolated with the starting-symbol inverted question mark, for example: "Si no puedes ir con ellos, ¿quieres ir con nosotros?" ("If you cannot go with them, would you like to go with us?")
Some writers omit the inverted question mark in the case of a short unambiguous question such as: "Quién viene?" ("Who comes?"). This is the criterion in Galician and Catalan. Certain Catalan-language authorities, such as Joan Solà i Cortassa, insist that both the opening and closing question marks be used for clarity.
Some Spanish-language writers, among them Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda (1904–1973), refuse to use the inverted question mark. It is common in Internet chat rooms and instant messaging now to use only the single "?" as an ending symbol for a question, since it saves typing time. Multiple closing symbols are used for emphasis: "Por qué dices eso??", instead of the standard "¿Por qué dices eso?" ("Why do you say that?"). Some may also use the ending symbol for both beginning and ending, giving "?Por qué dices eso?" Given the informal setting, this might be unimportant; however, teachers see this as a problem, fearing and claiming that contemporary young people are inappropriately and incorrectly extending the practice to academic homework and essays.
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