What Is the Upside-Down Exclamation Point?

Quick Answer

In Spanish, the upside-down exclamation point (¡) is used at the beginning of all exclamatory sentences and clauses. For example:

  • ¡Hola!(Hello!)
  • ¡Feliz cumpleaños!(Happy Birthday!)
  • ¡Qué bonito!(How beautiful!)

Origins of the Upside-Down Exclamation Point

In 1754, the Real Academia Española(Spanish Royal Academy) declared that a signo de apertura de exclamación(opening exclamation mark) must be used at the beginning of all exclamations, so that they could be identified easily within a text body. Although it took a while for this new rule to catch on, it has now been fully adopted into the language.

Click here to learn more about Spanish exclamatory words and expressions!

Using the Upside-Down Exclamation Point

As already mentioned, the upside-down exclamation point is used at the beginning of an exclamation. Notice that it can appear in the middle of a sentence to indicate that a phrase is exclamatory, such as in the first example listed below:

examples
Si cometes un error, ¡no te preocupes!
If you make a mistake, don't worry!
¡Cuánto comimos anoche!
We ate so much last night!

Although it is grammatically incorrect, Spanish speakers often do not use the upside-down exclamation mark in virtual communications, such as text messages and emails.

How to Type the ¡ Symbol

Sometimes the trickiest part of using this symbol is knowing how to type it. ¡No te preocupes!(Don't worry!) Here is how you type the upside-down question mark on a Mac:

upside down exclamation point on a mac

If you're not using a Mac computer, check out this table below for some additional keyboard shortcuts that you can use:

SoftwareShortcut
WindowsPress "Alt + 0161"
ChromebookPress "Ctrl + Shift" followed by "u + 00a1"
Android and iOSLong hold the "?" symbol and drag finger up to select the upside-down exclamation point

Do you want to learn more about Spanish punctuation? Check out these articles:

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