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Punctuation

Overview

In general, punctuation in Spanish follows the same rules as in English. There are only a few exceptions and these make intonation and general comprehension much easier. Below, you will find a table with most tricky or different punctuation marks and when you should use them as well as examples.

. punto, punto final (period) Used at the end of a sentence. Also used in numbers in place of the comma, and vice versa. Él tiene $13.000,00. (He has $13,000.00.)
, coma (comma) Used to signify a pause, separate items in a list, and used in numbers in place of the period (see above). * While it is common in English to place a comma between the the second-to-last item and the word "and," in Spanish, this comma is omitted. After a "Hola" or similar words at the beginning of a letter or post, the comma should not be used in Spanish, as it is used only for short pauses and ascending intonation, and not for the long pause with descending intonation used after "hola". The correct thing to do in Spanish is to use the colon ("Hola:") Quiero una muñeca, una bicicleta, unos zapatos y un vestido. (I want a doll, a bike, some shoes, and a dress.)
« » " " comillas (quotation marks) Both can be used as quotation marks. The only difference is that in Spanish, punctuation falls outside of quotations whereas in English, it falls inside the quotations. Pablo dijo, «Te quiero, mi amor». Y Paula dijo, "Pero tengo un esposo". (Pablo said, "I love you, my love." And Paula said, "But I have a husband.")
¿? signos de interrogación (question marks) In Spanish, a question is framed on each end by question marks. If a sentence has part statement and part question, only the question is framed by question marks. Si eres tan inteligente, ¿cuál es la respuesta? (If you´re so smart, what´s the answer?)
¡! signos de exclamación (exclamation points) These work the same as question marks, framing an exclamatory phrase. If a phrase is both exclamatory and a question, you can put one mark at the beginning and another at the end. ¡Qué hiciste? (What did you do?)

Exercises

Each sentence has at least one punctuation mistake. Try to find all of them and correct them.

  1. Yo gano $42,563.89 cada año.
  2. Cómo estás tú?
  3. !Es increíble!
  4. Mi mamá siempre dice, "La vida es corta, ¡vive!"
  5. Ella tiene un sandwich, una ensalada, unas papas fritas, y un jugo de naranja.

Answers

  1. Yo gano $42.563,89 cada año.
  2. ¿Cómo estás tú?
  3. ¡Es increíble!
  4. Mi mamá siempre dice, "La vida es corta, ¡vive"!
  5. Ella tiene un sandwich, una ensalada, unas papas fritas y un jugo de naranja.** (no comma before "y.")**
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updated NOV 20, 2011
edited by lazarus1907
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