Spanish Punctuation  

Advanced Spanish Grammar Punctuation

Spanish punctuation is very similar to English punctuation. But there are a few differences. The Vocabulary section of this lesson provides the Spanish punctuation marks and their names. Ones whose use is significantly different than in English are explained below.


In regular text, the period is used essentially the same as in English. However, in numerals a comma is often used instead of a period and vice versa. In U.S. and Mexican Spanish, however, the same pattern as English is often followed.

Existen 200.000.000 insectos por cada ser humano.
There are 200,000,000 insects for every human.


The comma usually is used the same as in English, being used to indicate a break in thought or to set off clauses or words. One difference is that in lists, there is no comma between the last item and the y, whereas in English some writers use a comma before the "and."

El gato es gordo, blanco y negro.
The cat is fat, white and black.


The dash is used most frequently in Spanish to indicate a change in speakers during a dialogue, and thus replacing quotation marks. In English, it is customary to separate each speaker's remarks into a separate paragraph, but that typically isn't done in Spanish.

— Cómo estás? — Muy bien ¿y tú? — Muy bien también.
"How are you?"
"I'm fine. And you?"
"I'm fine too."

Angled Quotation Marks

The angled quotation marks and the English-style quotation marks are the equivalent. The choice is primarily a matter of regional custom or the capabilities of the typesetting system. The angled quotation marks are more common in Spain than in Latin America.

The main difference between the English and Spanish uses of quotation marks is that sentence punctuation in Spanish goes outside the quote marks, while in American English the punctuation is on the inside.

Quiero leer "Romeo y Julieta".
I want to read "Romeo and Juliet."

Quiero leer «Romeo y Julieta».
I want to read "Romeo and Juliet."

Question Marks

In Spanish, question marks are used at the beginning and the end of a question. If a sentence contains more than a question, the question marks frame the question only.

Si no te gusta la comida, ¿por qué la comes?
If you don't like the food, why are you eating it?

Exclamation Marks

Exclamation points are used in the same way that question marks are except to indicate exclamations instead of questions. Exclamation marks are also sometimes used for direct commands. If a sentence contains a question and an exclamation, it is OK to use one of the marks at the beginning of the sentence and the other at the end.

Vi la película la noche pasada. ¡Qué susto!
I saw the movie last night. What a fright!

¡Qué lástima, estás bien?
What a pity, are you all right?

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