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Most Important Spanish Punctuation Marks

Punctuation is more important than you might think— it can save lives .

But that does not mean all punctuation marks are used the same in both Spanish and English .

By the end of this post you will be able to write with confidence without ever having to worry whether your mistakes have put lives in danger.

Why Is Learning Spanish Punctuation Important?

Essential spanish punctuation marks, 1. punto (period), 2. coma (comma), 3. dos puntos (colon), 4. punto y coma (semicolon), 5. puntos suspensivos (ellipsis), 6. signo de interrogación (question mark), 7. signo de exclamación (exclamation point), 8. guion y raya (hyphen and em-dash), 9. paréntesis (parentheses), 10. comillas españolas (angle quotes) and comillas inglesas (quotation marks), where to practice using spanish punctuation, find and correct the mistakes in the following sentences:, and one more thing….

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We all know that we finish sentences by using a period, we separate items in a list with commas and we close questions with question marks. You might think that is all you need to know, but if you really want to be fluent in Spanish, it is not!

Punctuation mastery is crucial for professional- or academic-grade writing skills . You will need it to write resumes or cover letters if you ever want to land a job in a Spanish-speaking environment .

But understanding Spanish punctuation has a broader benefit, as well—it will make Spanish grammar easier by forcing you to think about sentence structure and parts of speech.

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The period is the punctuation mark we use in order to tell the reader he or she needs to make a long pause. Generally speaking, periods come at the end of the sentence (as long as it is not a question or an exclamation) and they tell us the main idea of the sentence has been conveyed and we can make a pause.

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speech marks spanish

El niño juega en el parque. (The boy is playing in the park.)

Tengo sueño. (I am sleepy.)

Easy! You convey your message and close it with a period. Cool and simple. Everybody knows that, I am sure.

What maybe not everybody knows is that there are three important different kinds of periods  in Spanish: the punto y seguido , the punto y aparte and the punto final .

If we translate their names literally, we get “period and continued,” “period and aside” and “final period,” respectively.

And what is the difference between them?

We use a punto y seguido when we keep on writing after that period without starting a new paragraph . All the periods inside a paragraph except for the last one are puntos y seguido .

For the sake of space, the following examples are not whole paragraphs but pairs of sentences together. The periods separating each pair of sentences is a punto y seguido :

Tengo sueño. Me voy a la cama. (I am sleepy. I am going to bed.)

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speech marks spanish

He comprado un coche. El coche es rojo. (I have bought a car. The car is red.)

We use a punto y aparte when we want to start a new paragraph. Typically, with the punto y aparte we mark a change of topic or an idea not directly related to the previous one:

… cuando llegó.

Cerró la puerta y…

(…when she arrived.

She closed the door and…)

Finally, a punto final is any period that closes a single isolated sentence or closes the whole writing. I know it may seem a bit weird to have a specific name for something that only occurs once in a chapter, essay or composition, but since we have it, why not boast about it?

Take the closest book you have. Open it and have a look at the last sentence of the last paragraph of the last page. There will probably be a period. There you have your example of a  punto final .

The uses of the comma in Spanish and English are very similar. We mainly use it to make shorter pauses in a sentence, separate items on a list or add explanatory phrases:

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speech marks spanish

Mis colores favoritos son el rojo, el amarillo y el verde. (My favorite colors are red, yellow and green.)

Mi hermano, que es médico, vive en Barcelona. (My brother, who is a doctor, lives in Barcelona)

However, there are a couple of differences between the use of the comma in American English and Spanish . Have a look:

When writing quotation marks (more on those later in this post), add the comma after them in Spanish, but include the comma before them in American English:

“Tengo sueño”, dijo María. (“I am sleepy,” said María.)

“He comprado un coche rojo”, dije. (“I have bought a red car,” I said.)

When you have a long number, especially if it is a decimal one, use commas and periods in Spanish in the opposite way you would do it in English:

Spanish: 1.234.567,89

English: 1,234,567.89

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speech marks spanish

Remember one last thing regarding commas, both in Spanish and English: you typically should not separate a subject from its predicate by a comma.

Incorrect: Ella, ha comprado un coche.  (She, has bought a car.)

Correct: Ella ha comprado un coche. (She has bought a car.)

As it happened with the comma, the use of the colon in Spanish and English is pretty much the same.

Although it can be used for many different purposes, when it comes to writing, the colon is mainly used to indicate that what comes next is an explanation of what has just been said, an enumeration, a list or a quote.

For example:

Estaba cansado: había estado escribiendo toda la noche.  (He was tired: he had been writing all night long.)

When read aloud, the pause for the colon is generally longer than the comma’s, but shorter than the period’s.

You typically need to write a lowercase letter after the colon. Even though we call the colon two points in Spanish, that does not mean it follows the same rules as the period!

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speech marks spanish

There is one last thing you should bear in mind when using the colon in Spanish. Everybody writes letters or emails. There are literally thousands of ways of starting a letter, but let us say the easiest one is writing “Dear Mr. X,” and then continuing on another line.

If you have a look, you will notice you add a comma after “Mr. X” in English. Avoid doing this in Spanish! Instead, use a colon because… well, just because!

So remember to write it properly when you start writing an email to your boss!

I have always loved that the semicolon is called punto y coma in Spanish, because you actually have to write a period and a comma to produce a semicolon.

But besides that, I think the semicolon is not only the punctuation mark I have used the least in my life, but also the one that took me the longest amount of time to understand!

The semicolon is some weird hybrid between a comma and a period. It is like a comma and a period but it is neither the former nor the latter… it is here to complicate our lives… only if we let it win!

The truth is, the semicolon is very easy to use, and it is used in the same exact way in both English and Spanish .

So when should we use it?

There are two main uses of the semicolon, and while one is very precise and easy to understand, the other is abstract and absolutely open to interpretation. But we will start with the easier one:

speech marks spanish

  • Use the semicolon when making a list in order to separate the different items, especially if the items are long sentences and include commas. Easy. Here the semicolon acts as a “bigger brother” who tries to help the comma so it knows when each item ends.

Me gusta hacer muchas cosas, sobre todo viajar por el mundo; descubrir nuevas culturas, si tengo tiempo, claro; y comer la comida local. (I like to do a lot of things, especially travel around the world; discover new cultures, if I have the time, of course; and eat the local food).

  • Use the semicolon instead of the period in order to join independent clauses if they are closely related to each other. For example:

En verano voy a España; en invierno voy a las montañas. (In summer I go to Spain; in winter I go to the mountains.)

Tu hermano es médico; mi hermano es profesor. (Your brother is a doctor; my brother is a professor.)

If the sentences are short, do not overthink it. Just use a comma:

Te amo, te adoro. (I love you, I adore you).

The ellipsis is another punctuation mark that works practically the same way in Spanish as in English .

Lately, especially thanks to the use of texts, instant messaging and emails, a lot of people tend to overuse it by adding it to the end of almost every sentence. However, the uses of the ellipsis are very well defined and we should go back to using it properly.

Of the many uses of the ellipsis, the three main ones are:

  • To mark an interruption or speech that trails off. This is the main use of the ellipsis.

Pensaba que me querías… (I thought you loved me…)

Algún día lo entenderás… (Someday you will get it…)

  • To show fear or suspense. This time you use the ellipsis to make a pause, but then you continue with your speech or writing:

Y entonces… lo maté. (And then… I killed him.)

Oí una voz… pero no podía ver nada… estaba temblando… (I heard a voice… but I could not see anything… I was shaking…)

  • To make a non-comprehensive list of items. When you add the ellipsis at the end of the list, the reader understands there are more examples aside from the ones you are naming:

Tenemos todos los colores: azul, amarillo, rojo, rosa, verde… (We have all the colors: blue, yellow, red, pink, green…)

Algunos ejemplos de esto pueden ser perros, gatos, pájaros, conejos, peces… (Some examples of this can be dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, fish…)

The question mark is one of the easiest-to-use punctuation marks because it is universally used to close questions.

The only thing you need to remember and bear in mind is that in Spanish you need to use an inverted question mark (also known as an opening question mark) at the beginning of every question !

Do Spanish people write it? Yes, we do!

Is it necessary? Yes, it is!

Will I get lower grades if I leave it out? Yes, of course!

Forget about lazy Spanish people who now have a tendency to ignore the opening question mark when chatting or writing emails. That is as big an error as writing “velieve” instead of “believe” or using a comma at the end of a sentence. Just learn to use it, because it is a must!

Here you have some examples:

¿Qué hora es? (What time is it?)

¿Cómo te llamas? (What is your name?)

¿Estás seguro? (Are you sure?)

We have exactly the same situation when it comes to the exclamation point. We use it for the same purpose both in Spanish and English, but we need to add exclamation points at the beginning of every exclamation.

Once again, do not try to find excuses and ignore the lazy people who try not to use it. You would not start a sentence with a lowercase letter, right? Exactly…

¡Qué bonito! (How beautiful!)

¡No lo hagas! (Do not do it!)

¡Me estoy volviendo loco! (I am going crazy!)

I have a confession to make: I used to get lost every time I had to use the hyphen and the em-dash because, for me, they have always been one and the same thing, except one is longer than the other…

Do not judge me, nobody is perfect!

However, I can share a little trick with you that has made my life easier and has helped me remember (most of the time) when I should use each of them.

To put it simply, remember the following: the raya separates and the guion unites.

Once you internalize that little mnemonic, you will easily remember that we use the raya to separate the different voices in a dialog in Spanish (i.e., each new line of dialog is separated from the rest and starts with an em-dash):

—Hola, María. (—Hello, María.)

—Hola, ¿qué tal estás? (—Hello, how are you?)

— Muy bien, gracias. (—Very well, thanks.)

The em-dash can also be used in Spanish to  separate  side notes or explanatory information somewhat like parentheses,  although this usage is more common in English than Spanish .

We use the hyphen to unite . In other words, hyphens can show two words are related, show the rest of a word continues on the next line or show that two numbers form an interval.

físico-químico (physicochemical)

páginas 45-50 (pages 45-50)

There are other minor uses of the em-dash and hyphen, but if you master this little trick, you are good to go for sure!

Parentheses are another punctuation mark you use practically in the same way in Spanish as in English.

Parentheses can be used for many different purposes, but there is always one thing in common: you will always need an opening parenthesis and a closing one.

The main uses of the parentheses in Spanish are:

  • To clarify aside from the main point. This use of the parentheses is quite subjective, because sometimes they can be replaced by commas and the sentence remains the same. Where should you draw the line?

There is not a universal answer to this question, but bear in mind the closer you are to the main point, the better it is to use commas:

María (mi vecina) es estudiante. María (my neighbor) is a student.

El coche de mi hermano (un BMW) es blanco. My brother’s car (a BMW) is white.

  • To add meanings of abbreviations. It is not compulsory, but it is always good practice if you think the reader may have problems with the text:

OMS (Organización Mundial de la Salud). WHO (World Health Organization).

  • To add dates and/or places. This is quite self-explanatory, so just have a look at the examples:

Vivo en Madrid (España) . I live in Madrid (Spain).

La Segunda Guerra Mundial (1939-1945) fue un conflicto militar global.  WWII (1939-1945) was a global military conflict.

Even though there are different kinds of quotes, almost every language has a preference and will make use of one type more often than the others .

Spanish uses three types of quotes: guillemets or angle quotes (« »), quotation marks (” “) and simple quotation marks (‘ ‘), but our favorite are the guillemets.

In recent years, more and more Spanish-speaking people are using the so-called English quotation marks (” “), but Spanish newspapers and publishing houses in general tend to stick to tradition and keep on using angle quotes.

But what are angle quotes for?

We can use angle quotes for many different reasons, but the common denominator is always one: we are marking another level in the sentence. This “new level” can be a quotation, an ironic remark, a different sense of a common word, an expression, a thought or even a foreign word, but overall it is on a different level than the rest of the sentence, and we need to indicate that.

So, imagine you are writing a text in Spanish and want to quote what an author said in a book. How would you let the reader know the following words are on a different level and have not been written or said by you? Exactly! You use angle quotes:

…como dijo José M., «Eso es una pena». (…as José M. said, “That is a pity.”)

As I have just mentioned, you can also use angle quotes to mark irony, add expressions or use words with an uncommon meaning.

Compré este vestido en una «boutique». (I bought this dress in a “boutique.”)

Eres un chico muy «inteligente». (You are a very “intelligent” guy.)

Earlier I mentioned Spanish makes use of three different kinds of quotes. But why? Well, it would be a real mess to have quotes inside of quotes inside of quotes if you used the same angle marks all the time!

Chaos, I tell you!

The following example is written twice. In the first instance, I have used angle quotes only. The second one contains three different types of quotes. Which one is more clear and prettier for you?

Entonces dijo: «Me parece que decir «compar en una «boutique»» es algo muy tonto». (Then he said: “I think saying “buying in a “boutique”” is something very silly.”)

Entonces dijo: «Me parece que decir “comprar en una ’boutique'” es algo muy tonto». (Then he said: “I think saying ‘buying in a ’boutique” is something very silly.”)

Now that you have studied the theory, how about doing some exercises so you can check if you have understood everything?

In the first part of this section, you will have some sentences with punctuation errors. Your task will be to find the errors and correct them.

You will find the correct answers just below.

In the second part, I will give you some external links where you can practice more Spanish punctuation if you feel you still need some more.

Are you ready?

Pepe, corre por el parque.

Me gusta cocinar

Compré uno verde; uno amarillo y uno azul.

Nació en Sevilla, España.

No sabía lo que significaba “bailar el agua”.

Una ONG – Organización No Gubernamental – es imprescindible en la zona.

No puedo lo siento.

He comprado zumo. Manzanas, peras y leche.

Pepe corre por el parque.

Me gusta cocinar.

Compré uno verde, uno amarillo y uno azul.

Nació en Sevilla (España).

No sabía lo que significaba « bailar el agua » .

Una ONG (Organización No Gubernamental) es imprescindible en la zona.

No puedo, lo siento.

He comprado zumo, manzanas, peras y leche.

All these punctuation marks may be confusing at the beginning, but I promise after you do a couple of exercises, you will learn to see the differences.

I hope after reading this post you feel more comfortable when presented with writing assignments or any time you need to write a letter or email to your friend or your new boss! You will certainly see your Spanish writing improve.

I have thoroughly enjoyed showing you a little part of the marvelous world of punctuation, and I really hope you have enjoyed learning about it as well.

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speech marks spanish

Writing Dialogues in Spanish - Punctuation

Spanish grammar.

Dialogues in Spanish start with a long dash – (raya) not a short dash - (guión).

In this article, we will simply call the long dash, a dash.

–Estoy listo. (= "I am ready")

Notice how there is no space between the dash and the first letter.

Dialogues do not end in a dash (–) , only the normal punctuation sign (normally a full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark).

Punctuation with Attributives

A dash is also used to introduce an attributive. An attributive in a dialogue credits the speech to the person who said it. It refers to a verb or action associated with speaking and who said it.

–dijo él. (= he said) –respondió ella. (= she responded) –preguntó. (= he/she asked)

Again, the dash is joined to first letter of the first word. Also notice how that first word, normally a “speaking” verb starts with a lowercase letter.

More examples of “speaking” verbs in Spanish are:

aceptó (accepted), aconsejó (advised), admitió (admitted), afirmó (affirmed/asserted), amenazó (threatened), bromeó (joked), comentó (commented), concluyó (concluded), dijo (said), gritó (shouted), mintió (lied), preguntó (asked), prometió (promised), repitió (repeated), respondió (responded), rogó (begged), sugirió (suggested), susurró (whispered).

Now let’s look at both parts joined together: The speech and the attributive.

–Estoy lista –dijo ella.

There is no period (full stop) at the end of the first part since it is continued by an attributive. We can only put a question mark, an explanation mark or ellipsis (three dots) in the speech part when it is followed by an attributive. See how there is a space between what is being said and the dash that is joined to the attributive. Remember, the speaker’s attributive begins with a lowercase letter.

–¿Estás bien? –preguntó Diego. –Sí, estoy bien –le contestó Angélica con una sonrisa.

The speech of each person is written a separate line. The first speech has the question marks directly after the words. The second speech does NOT have the period (full stop) directly after what is said. Here it appears at the end of the attributive.

What happens if there is more dialogue after the attributive?

–Estoy lista –dijo ella–. Me voy a la fiesta.

First we add a dash to the end of the attributive. This is followed by the final punctuation mark of the first part of speech. In the example above, Estoy lista should end in a period (full stop) but instead, it goes after the dash at the end of the attributive. Since it is a new sentence, the second part begins with a capital letter.

If it helps, you can think of the dashes in –dijo ella– as parentheses.

But look at the following:

–Estoy lista –dijo ella–, y nadie me va a parar.

Here the dialogue is a longer sentence that is interrupted by the attributive. Since the punctuation mark is a comma, the second part continues with a lowercase letter.

However, if the first part ends in a question mark, exclamation mark or an ellipsis (three dots), then this goes at the end of the first part.

–¡Estás loco! –gritó Daniel–. Tienes que parar inmediatamente.

If the narrator’s comment has nothing to do with a speaking or thinking verb (including related actions like shouting, whispering etc.) then the narrator’s sentence begins with a capital letter.

–Me voy. –Cerró la puerta y salió.

Using the Colon in dialogue

Until now, we have only seen the attributive (speaking verb) after what is being said. However, sometimes you have what the narrator says before the speech. In this case we use a colon after the "speaking verb".

Mi madre dijo: –Vamos en diez minutos.

Le preguntó al doctor: –¿Estaré bien?

The dialogue goes on the next line.

Punctuation when thinking

When a person is directly THINKING instead of speaking, then the punctuation « » (comillas) are used instead of the dash. These are known as comillas angulares , comillas latinas , and also comillas españolas .

«¡Qué aburrido!», pensé. Pero no me atreví a decirlo. «Hay algo raro aquí», pensó el detective. –Puedes llegar a ser un buen jugador –le expliqué y pensé, «aunque nunca tan bueno como yo».

Notice the position of the period (full stop) and comma go after the final closing comilla.

Punctuation when quoting

Quotes, or repeating what someone else has said, are enclosed in comillas.

Fue Descartes quien dijo: «Pienso, luego existo» . Sus últimas palabras fueron: «No pasará nada» .

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Spanish Punctuation Marks: The Complete Guide | Learn, Mastering

Breadcrumb Abstract Shape

  • 25 Feb, 2024
  • 5 Mins Read

There are 18 punctuation marks in Spanish. Examples of the most commonly used Spanish punctuation marks are punto, coma, dos puntos, barra, signo de interregación, signo de exclamación.

Spanish Punctuation forms the basis of written language. They express the meaning of the sentence and provide effective communication. Punctuation in Spanish is the same as in other languages. Knowing Spanish punctuation marks is necessary to write Spanish accurately and fluently.

punto.full stop/period
punto y coma;semicolon
dos puntos:colon
punto suspensivoellipsis
comillas«»quotation marks
guiónen dash
paréntesis( )parentheses
signo de exclamación!exclamation mark
signo de interregación?question mark
viñetabullet point
guion bajo_underscore/low dash
principio y fin de interrogación¿ ?double question marks
principio y fin de ¡ !double exclamation 

Table of Contents

Punto – Period(.)

Coma – comma(,), dos puntos – colon(:), punto y coma – semicolon(;), puntos suspensivos -ellipsis(…), signo de interrogación – question mark(), signs de exclamación – exclamation mark(), comillas – quotation marks(«»), barra – slash(/), how to make spanish punctuation marks on the keyboard, how to use punctuation marks in spanish.

The types of punctuation in Spanish are listed below.

 The period, known as “punto” in Spanish, is the most fundamental punctuation mark. It serves the same purpose as in English, indicating the end of a sentence or an abbreviation. For example:

  • El niño juega en el parque. (The boy is playing in the park.)
  • Tengo sueño. (I am sleepy.)

The period is straightforward to use, and it signifies the completion of a thought or idea. It is worth noting that there are three types of periods in Spanish: “punto y seguido,” “punto y aparte,” and “punto final.” These variations indicate different contexts within a paragraph, indicating whether to continue within the same section or start a new paragraph.

 The comma, known as “coma” in Spanish, is another essential punctuation mark that assists in creating clarity and conveying meaning. It is used to indicate pauses, separate items in a list, and set off clauses or phrases within a sentence.

In Spanish, the usage of the comma is similar to English, with a few notable differences. Unlike in English, Spanish does not use the Oxford comma (a comma before the conjunction “and” in a list). Additionally, when using quotation marks, the comma is placed after the closing quotation mark in Spanish, while it is placed before in English. For example:

  • Mis colores favoritos son el rojo, el amarillo y el verde. (My favorite colors are red, yellow, and green.)
  • “Te amo”, le dijo con una sonrisa en la cara. (“I love you,” he said with a smile on his face.)

The colon, known as “dos puntos” in Spanish, is used to introduce an explanation, list, enumeration, or quotation. It signals that what follows the colon provides further information or elaborates on the preceding statement. For example:

  • Estaba cansado: había estado escribiendo toda la noche. (He was tired: he had been writing all night long.)
  • Los signos de puntuación son los siguientes: el punto, la coma, el punto y coma, etc. (The punctuation marks are as follows: period, comma, semicolon, etc.)

The semicolon, known as “punto y coma” in Spanish, is a versatile punctuation mark that bridges the gap between a comma and a period. It indicates a longer pause than a comma but shorter than a period. The semicolon is primarily used to separate closely related independent clauses and to clarify complex lists or ideas. For example:

  • En verano voy a España; en invierno voy a las montañas. (In summer I go to Spain; in winter I go to the mountains.)
  • En la reunión se discutirán los avances en el programa de pagos automáticos; las nuevas ideas de producto; los ganadores del premio de puntualidad y las propuestas para la cena de Navidad. (At the meeting, we’ll discuss the advances in the automatic payments program; the new product ideas; the winners of the attendance and punctuality prize, and the proposals for the Christmas party.)

The ellipsis, known as “puntos suspensivos” in Spanish, serves the same purpose as in English. It indicates an omission, creates suspense or expectation, or suggests a trailing off of thought. The ellipsis can also be used to express hesitation or uncertainty. For example:

  • Si tan solo… bueno, ya no importa. (If only… well, it doesn’t matter anymore.)

In Spanish, the question mark is called “signo de interrogación.” It is used in the same way as in English, with one key difference: Spanish requires an upside-down question mark at the beginning of a question in addition to the regular question mark at the end. For example:

  • ¿Cómo te llamas? (What’s your name?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)

Similar to the question mark, the exclamation point in Spanish is called “signo de exclamación.” It is used to convey strong emotions, exclamations, or direct commands. Like the question mark, Spanish requires an upside-down exclamation point at the beginning of an exclamation. For example:

  • ¡Qué maravilloso! (How marvelous!)
  • ¡Cuidado! (Be careful!)

Quotation marks, known as “comillas” in Spanish, are used to indicate direct speech, quotes, or titles of short works. Spanish utilizes different types of quotation marks for aesthetic purposes, such as angled quotation marks (“comillas españolas”) and straight quotation marks (“comillas inglesas”). For example:

  • “Tengo sueño”, dijo María. (“I am sleepy,” said María.)
  • Quiero leer «Romeo y Julieta». (I want to read “Romeo and Juliet.”)

The slash, known as “barra” in Spanish, is a special character used to indicate alternatives, dates, or fractions. It can be used to replace the conjunction “or” in lists or to express a range of possibilities. For example:

  • El libro está escrito en inglés/español. (The book is written in English/Spanish.)
  • La reunión será el 10/03/2022. (The meeting will be on 10/03/2022.)

Mastering Spanish punctuation marks is essential for effective communication and accurate expression in writing. By understanding the usage and nuances of each punctuation mark, you can elevate your Spanish language skills and convey your thoughts and ideas with clarity and precision.

Each of these marks serves a unique purpose, and understanding their usage will enhance your writing and enable you to communicate more effectively in Spanish.

To use Spanish punctuation marks on your keyboard, you must hold down the “ALT” or “CTRL” keys and click on the relevant punctuation mark.

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Patricia Doval

Patricia Doval is a Spanish linguist at She holds a Ph.D. in Hispanic Linguistics from the University of Western Ontario, specializing in language contact. She's a bilingual Spanish-English. She has a master's in Spanish grammar and is responsible for our grammar-related articles.

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Spanish Grammar Lesson: Direct vs Indirect Speech


March 25, 2017

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Direct vs Indirect Speech

The difference between direct and indirect speech (also called reported speech) is pretty easy to understand.  

But it's not very easy to apply when speaking in a foreign language. It is a very important part of communicating, however, and plays an major role in most conversations.

Read on for a quick introduction and guide to direct vs indirect speech in Spanish.

So, what’s the difference?

That’s a very good question! Before we get too far ahead of ourselves with all the little technicalities, let’s make sure that we understand what we’re dealing with here.

In order to do this, take the following conversation:

Pedro: Where are you going?

Jose: To the store.

1: Will you get milk?

2: Sure, no problem.

Now, let’s say Pedro later goes on to have a conversation with someone else, about the above mentioned interaction. There are some options for how they could go about doing this. Let’s just say it looked something like this:

  • Pedro: I asked Jose where he was going. He said, “to the store.” So, I asked if he would get some milk, and he said “sure, no problem.”

The above recounting of a previous event or exchange with another person is what we’re going to look at. You have two options when doing this.

The first, is by using quotation marks. This is direct speech. This means that the words are being repeated exactly like they were said.

  • He said, “to the store.”
  • ...and he said, “sure, no problem.”

The second way of recounting a conversation is through indirect speech. In the example above, this is done through changing the verb tense, although that isn’t always required (we will look at that more later).  

  • Reported: I asked him where he was going.
  • Reported: I asked if he would get some milk.

Basically, there are 3 important rules to keep in mind when using indirect (reported) speech. They are:

  • You will not use quotation marks
  • Since you’re not quoting, you don’t need to say word-for-word what the person said
  • When reporting what someone said, you generally change the verb tense.

Reporting Verbs

There are still a few things we need to talk about before getting into everyone’s favorite part about grammar--the technicalities.

In order to identify that something is being “reported” or to communicate that you are repeating something that someone said previously, you’ll use a reporting verb. We have them in English as well. The most common are:

Decir*Say - He told me he had to study.
Preguntar*Ask - She asked if he could go to the part.
Querer saber*Wants to know - Juan wanted to know if I could take him to the movies.
Querer* Wants con ella.- Maria wanted that José talked with her.
Pedir*To ask for las llaves- He asked me to bring him the keys.
AnunciarAnnounce - The teacher announced that we will have an exam on Tuesday.
ComentarComment - He told me he couldn’t sleep much last week.
ConfesarConfess - Alicia confessed to her boyfriend that she gone out with another man.
ContestarAnswer -We answered Pablo that yes, we would go to the party.
PrometerPromise - You promised me you would do the laundry.
QuejarseComplain - The children complained that they didn’t have toys.
Recordar Remind - They reminded us that the party started at 8:00pm.

*Most common of the most common

“Que”--your new best friend

You’ll notice that (almost) all of the examples above in the chart using reported speech include the little word “que.” This is not a coincidence.

When speaking in reported speech you will always use the “que” (meaning “that”). Even if in English we can and would omit the “that” you still need it in Spanish.”  

“She said that she was tired.”- Here, in English the “that” is optional. This is not the case in Spanish.

“He asked that I go to the store.” (He asked me to go to the store.) - this is one of the examples where the “that” wouldn’t be use in English, but it would in Spanish.

But wait… the questions…

If you’re reporting a question, you have a few options available as they don’t always need the “que”.

Yes and No Questions.

If the answer to the question being reported can be “yes” or “no” you don’t need the “que.” In these situation we would use the “si” like in English (if).

“He asked me if I could go to the store.”- Me preguntó si iba a la tienda .

Questions with question words

If you are reporting a question that contained the question words  (where, who, when, etc.) you will not need the “que” but stick with the question word used in the original context.

  • María: Where is Sara? ( ¿Dónde está Sara? )

Reported speech: Maria wanted to know where Sara was. ( María quería saber donde estaba Sara. )

Let’s get a little more technical.

We’ll try to ease you into all of this grammatical stuff. It seems like a lot to remember. But, a lot of it is very common in English as well, so try to not to get too overwhelmed!

Personal pronouns and Possessive pronouns.

Again, let’s start with an example:

  • María: Can you tell my brother that I need to talk to him? ¿Puedes decirle a mi hermano que le tengo que hablar?

Here, obviously a few things need to change if you want to report this statement. For one, he’s not your brother and for another you’re not the one that needs to speak to him.

In this situation, the personal pronouns (you, I) need to change, as well as the possessive (my). Here’s how this statement would sound when repeating it later on to someone else:

  • The pronouns remain the same.
  • Here, you can see that the pronouns did change.

So far so good, right? It’s pretty basic stuff up to this point. Just like in English, we need to change the subject and the pronouns.

Time phrases

Obviously, more often than not, if you’re reporting something that happened it’s because the person you’re recounting the event to wasn’t there when it took place--i.e. it was in the past.

So, here’s how you would change around your time phrases so they line up with what you’re saying:

Hoy (today)Ese día/ Aquel día (that day) - Juan said, “today is my birthday.” - Juan said that that day was his birthday.
Ahora (now)Entonces (then) - My parents told me, “you have to come home now.” - My parents told me I had to go home then.
Ayer (yesterday)El día anterior (the day before) - Marin said “I went to the party yesterday.” - Martin said he went to the party the day before.
Mañana (tomorrow)El día siguiente (the next day)Me contó, “iré al trabajo mañana.” He told me ‘’I’ll go to work tomorrow.’’Me dijo que iría al trabajo al día siguiente- He told me he would go to work the next day.
La semana/el mes/ el año que viene (Next week, next month, next year)A la semana siguiente/ Al mes siguiente/ Al año siguiente (the following week/month/year)Clara me dijo ‘’lo haré la semana que viene.’’ Claire said to me ‘’ I’ll do it next week.’’Clara dijo que lo haría a la semana siguiente- Claire said she’d do it the following week.
La semana pasada/el mes pasado/ el año pasado (last week,last month and last year)La semana anterior/el mes anterior/ el año anteriorAna dijo ‘’ le vi el año pasado” Ana said ‘’I saw him last year.’’Ana dijo que le había visto el año anterior- Ana said that she had seen him the previous year.
Hace + period of time (period of time+ago)Hacia+period of time (period of time +before)/ Period of time+ ante Me dijo, “hace seis meses que rompimos.”- She said “we broke up six months ago.”Me dijo que habían roto hacía seis meses.- She told me that they broke up six months ago.
Aquí (here)Ahí/ Allí (there)Jesus me dijo “nací aquí.”- Jesus told me, “I was born here.”Jesus me dijo que había nacido allí.- Jesus told me he was born there.
Este/ Esta (this)Ese/ Esa (that)/ Aquel/ aquella (that)Alejandro dijo, “me gusta mucho este libro.”Alejandro dijo que le gustó mucho ese libro.
Estos/ Estas (these)Eses/ Esas (those)/ Aquellos/ aquellas (those)Me dijo el profesor, “a los niños les encantan estas películas.”- The teacher told me, “the children love these movies.”Me dijo el profesor que a los niños les encantaban esas películas.- The teacher told me that the children loved those movies.

As you’ll notice above, all of the examples are written in the past. This is also something important to pay attention to, and probably one of the most important grammatical points of reported speech. So, let’s go ahead and dive right into that!

Verb tenses in indirect (reported) speech.

The tense the reporting verb is in (present, past, future) will have a big impact on the rest of the sentence. Not only will you need to pay attention to the tense, but also to what is being said.

Command/Request vs information

Depending on the context of the conversation being reported, you’ll need to use different ways of repeating it.

This is where things can start to get a little tricky. We do have similar rules in English as they do in Spanish, but in English they are a little more flexible, and followed less frequently.

Here are some good rules to keep in mind when using indirect speech in Spanish:

  • If the reporting verb is in the present or present perfect tense you do not need to change the verb tense--unless it’s a command (we’ll talk more about this in a minute).
  • If the reporting verb is in the preterite, imperfect, or the past perfect tense you do need to change the  verb tense.

Let’s look at a quick scenario and see what we have:

Scenario: Let’s say you’re texting with someone, and your friend (who you’re with physically) wants to know what the person texting you is saying.

Person 1: What did he say?

Person 2: He asked if we are free tonight. ( reporting information )

1: Why? What does he want?

2: He wants us to help him move. ( reporting a request )

Here, we can see that in the first part, Person 2 is simply repeating the information . He asked a question, and this is what it is. The reporting verb “want to know” is in the present, so the second verb is in the present as well.

In the second part of the exchange, the reporting verb is in the present, so in English, we keep the it in the present as well. In Spanish, however, if we are reporting a request or command , we need to use the subjunctive. In this case it will be the present subjunctive because the reporting verb is in present.

In Spanish the conversation would go like this:

Person 1: ¿Qué dijo?”

Person 2: Quiere saber si estamos libres esta noche. (present-present)

1: ¿Por qué? ¿Qué quiere?

2: Quiere que le ayudemos a hacer la mudanza. (present-present subjunctive)

Note: This change to the subjunctive only happens with certain verbs: Decir, Pedir, Querer. An easy way to remember this is if they verb will be followed by “si” or “que.”

  • Quiere saber si podemos salir esta noche. (He wants to know if I can go out tonight.)
  • Me pregunta si quiero quedar mañana. (He’s asking if I can meet up tomorrow.)
  • Again, in this situation you’re not necessarily relaying the request or the command, but merely the information contained in the request itself.
  • Me dice que tenga cuidado. (He tells me to be careful.)
  • Frenando me pide que le ayude con los deberes. (Franks asks me to help with the homework.)
  • Fernando me dice que tengo que ir a clase mañana.

Verb Tense Changes

So, if you feel like all of that has settled into your mind and it’s not going to explode just yet, let’s keep chugging along!

As mentioned above, if the reporting verb is in present, it will only change (to present subjunctive) if the thing being reported is a command/ request. When the reporting verb is in the past, however, the rest of the information being reported will need to change tense. Here’s how that is going to work:

Present Simple--Imperfect

  • Direct speech: Angela dijo, “No puedo ir.” (Angela said, “I can’t go.”)
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: Angela dijo que no podía ir. (Angela said that she couldn’t go.)

Preterite--Pluscuamperfecto (past perfect)

  • Direct speech: Sergio dijo, “Ayer compré un movil nuevo.”  (Sergio said, “Yesterday I bought a new cell phone.)
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: Sergio dijo que el día anterior había comprado un movil nuevo. (Sergio said that the day before he had bought a new phone.)

Future simple (will)--Conditional simple (would)

  • Direct speech : Candela dijo, “Llegaré tarde.” - (Candela said, “I’ll arrive late.”)
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: Candela dijo que llegaría tarde. - (Candela said that she would arrive late.)

Imperfect/Conditional/Past Perfect

With these, you will not change second verb tense. Yay!

  • Direct speech: Juan dijo, “la playa era muy bonita.” (Juan said, “the beach was very pretty.”)
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: Juan dijo que la playa era muy bonita . (Juan said that beach was very pretty.)


  • Direct speech: María dijo, “Me gustaría vivir en Nueva York.” (Maria said, “I would like to live in New York.”
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: María dijo que le gustaría vivir en Nueva York. (Maria said she would like to live in New York.
  • Past Perfect
  • Direct speech: Mi padre me dijo, “a las 5 ya había llegado. ” (My dad told me, “at 5 I had already arrived.”)
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: Mi padre me dijo que a las 5 ya había llegado . (My dad told me that a 5 he had already arrived.)

Just one more thing… I promise!

One last thing to remember, like we saw with the present tense, if the verb in the past is a reporting verb, and what is being reported is a command or request, you will use the subjunctive--past subjunctive this time!

  • Direct speech: Mis padres me dijeron, “vuelve a casa a las 23.00. ” (My parents told me, “be home at 11:00pm.)
  • Indirect/ Reported speech: Mis padres me dijeron que volviera a casa a las 23.00 . (My parents told me to be home by 11:00 pm.)

¡Madre Mía! That was a lot of information!

Let’s see if we can condense it down just a little bit.

Important rules to remember. If you are using reporting speech:

If you do need to change the verb tense, this is why and when:

  • Commands or requests with a present tense reporting verb will take the present subjunctive conjugation in the following verb.
  • Again, commands or requests with a past tense reporting verb will need to take the past subjunctive conjugation in the following verb.

If the reporting verb is in the past, these are the changes you’ll make:

  • Present simple--imperfect
  • Preterite-Past Perfect (Pluscuamperfecto)
  • Will future--simple continual (would)

Verbs that will not change the tense of the others verbs:

  • Conditional

Things to keep in mind:

  • Remember your reporting verbs
  • Remember to change the personal and possessive pronouns
  • Remember your time phrases

In reality, it’s not as complicated as it looks. It may take a little practice to get used to, but after a while, you’ll find that is relatively similar to what we do in English. Do you have any shortcuts you use to remember the rules mentioned above? Is reported (indirect) speech something you struggle with? Let us know in the comments!

Single blog with both side sidebars

About the author 

Anastasia is a Chicago, Illinois native. She began studying Spanish over 10 years ago, and hasn’t stopped since. Living in Spain since 2012, she loves Spanish tortilla, vino tinto, and anything that contains jamón ibérico.

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Spanish Accent Marks: A full guide on accent marks in Spanish


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In Spanish, accent marks are essential elements in proper spelling, while also indicating essential information on pronunciation.

In this post, we will cover all you need to know to master the use of accent marks in Spanish. It may seem like a lot at first, but we’ll present you with some basic rules that will make you an expert on accent marks in Spanish – perhaps even more expert than many native speakers. Believe it or not, when writing, native speakers are often unsure when to add an accent mark or not!

We will start by defining and describing the different types of accent marks in Spanish. We’ll spend a lot of time talking specifically about acute accents, since these have a lot of rules that you can quickly master. We’ll round out the post with several sections on specific cases to get you used to seeing Spanish accent marks in those contexts, like with question words, demonstratives, and common homonyms. Finally, we’ll leave you with some exercises.

Why do we need Spanish accent marks?

Before we get into the details, let’s first just consider why accent marks in Spanish are so important.

In spelling , including or omitting the Spanish accent mark can actually change the meaning of the word entirely. For a simple example, think of the word si  (no accent mark), which means if , compared with the word sí  (with accent mark), which means yes . In Spanish, we always need to include accents on certain words to spell them correctly.

Likewise, Spanish accent marks reflect vital details on which syllable receives the stress  when the word is pronounced. Think about the example of “record” in English, which can have very different meanings depending on where you put the stress. Whereas “a record” takes the stress on the first syllable, the verb “to record” takes the stress on the second syllable. In Spanish, the pronunciation stress is reflected by the written accent marks.

In other words, Spanish accent marks are vital elements in proper spelling , as well in proper pronunciation ! Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive in and start out by learning the three different accent marks in Spanish.

Spanish accent marks

Accents in Spanish are used only on specific letters: the vowels a , e , i , o , u , and the consonant n . No other letters of the alphabet take accents in Spanish. There are three different types of accent marks in Spanish: the diaeresis , the tilde , and the acute accent . We’ll call them by their common Spanish names here, which are, respectively, la diéresis , la virgulilla , and el acento .

In case you want to type any of the characters we’re covering here, we have a separate lesson specifically on how to type Spanish accents .

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La diéresis

La di é resis  is only placed above the letter “u” and is designated by the addition of two dots like this: “ ü .”

Many English speakers call this accent an umlaut , since that’s what it’s called in German and it’s much more common in that language. However, when you refer to this accent mark in Spanish, you can call it the Spanish diaeresis  in English. Or simply la diéresis .

La diéresis  appears in just a few words in Spanish, always between a “g” and either an “e” or an “i.”

Normally, the letter “u” in the syllables “gue” and “gui” forms part of a diphthong, so the “u” is not pronounced independently. La diéresis  tells the reader that the vowel “ü” should be fully pronounced distinctly from the following vowel.

Here are some of the Spanish words that contain the diéresis :

La ambigüedad Ambiguity
El pingüino Penguin
La vergüenza Shame
La lingüística Linguistics
La antigüedad Antiquity
El desagüe Drain
Bilingüe Bilingual
La cigüeña Stork

La virgulilla

La virgulilla  is an accent mark only found above the letter “n.” In fact, the letters “n” and “ñ” are considered as two distinct letters. The letter “n” comes before the letter “ñ” in the Spanish alphabet, and their pronunciations also differ. The Spanish “ñ” pronunciation is similar to the “ ni ” sound in the English word “o ni on.”

In English, you refer to the wavy line over the Spanish letter ñ as a tilde . Since “ñ” is considered to be a distinct letter, native Spanish speakers don’t even think of the wavy line above the “n” as an accent mark at all.

In fact, in Spanish, we use the term tilde  as a general term for the acute accent mark, as we’ll see below. We actually call this wavy line over the ñ una virgulilla , or sometimes we use the word tilde  in Spanish but always by qualifying it by saying una tilde de la n .

There are no words in Spanish that start with the letter ñ. These are some common Spanish words that include the letter “ ñ ”:

El niño Boy
El pañal Diaper
El año Year
La uña Nail
El tamaño Size
El caño Pipe
El sueño Dream
La mañana Morning

El acento, La tilde

Acute accents  are the most common accents in Spanish. Normally, this accent is called el acento  or la tilde  in Spanish.

We also have a verb  for putting an accent on a letter  in Spanish: acentuar . Acentuar  can refer both to the stressing  of a given letter in pronunciation, or the writing  of a accent mark over the letter.

  • Esa palabra debe ir acentuada  en la letra “o.” – That word should be stressed  on the letter “o.”

Acentos  are used only with the vowels: á , é , í , ó  and ú . This Spanish accent mark can never be present more than once per word , as it is used to stress a specific syllable . This means that the vowel bearing the tilde  should be stressed in speech , whether it’s pronounced louder or longer.

Let’s see some examples of Spanish words bearing acentos :

La emoción Emotion
La verdulería Grocery store
La república Republic
El balcón Balcony
Marrón Brown
El café Coffee
El ratón Mouse
La lección Lesson

When to use the acute accent

Before moving on to the rules, you need to know that Spanish words may be stressed on different syllables, all in reference to the end of the word: the last syllable, the second-to-last syllable, and the third-to-last syllable.

Here we will have a look at some rules that will tell you where to place the acute accent. In each of these sections, we introduce words where the pronunciation needs to be stressed on a certain accent, so this is where the acute accent mark goes.

Make sure to remember these rules because once you learn them, knowing where to place Spanish accent marks will be much easier for you!

The accent is on the last syllable

When the word has more than one syllable and it ends  in -n , -s , or a vowel , it is stressed on the last syllable .

La can Song
El ca Truck
La aten Attention
El bal Balcony
Ja Never
Fran French
A Back
La ma Mother
Lle Arrived
El ta Taboo

The accent is on the second-to-last syllable

When a multi-syllable word ends in any consonant other   than   -n  or -s , we need to put an accent and stress on the second-to-last syllable .

El re ver Revolver
El bol Clover
El lar Dolar
La cel Jail
El a car Sugar
El ped Guest
El der Leader
El vil Mobile

The accent is on the third-to-last syllable

Some words are pronounced with stress on their third-to-last syllable , so this is where we need to place the accent.

A cola Agricultural
La bana Sheet
La mica Chemistry
timo Seventh
Las mate ticas Mathematics
Eco gico Ecological

One-syllable words

In general, words with only one syllable  should not  bear accent marks .

La sal Salt
Fue [he, she, it] Went
Soy I am
El mes Month
El mar Sea
La fe Faith

There’s an exception to this rule, however, in cases where a given one-syllable word has a different meaning if it has an accent mark. We’ll look at many of these in our section on homonyms near the end of this post.

Spanish accent marks on adverbs that end in -mente

The final rule in this section is not a general rule about spelling, but rather a rule about keeping accent marks in place when a word’s form is changed. The example we’ll use here is with adverbs that are derived from adjectives that already bear an acute accent mark.

In these cases, adding the -mente to change the adjective to an adverb doesn’t change the placement of the accent mark to agree with the rules we saw above. Instead, the accent remains where it started in the original form of the word.

See what we mean by comparing the placement of the Spanish accent marks in the adjective and adverb forms of the following words:

Cómodo Cómodamente Comfortably
Científico Científicamente Scientifically
Automático/a Automáticamente Automatically
Básico/a Básicamente Basically
Común Comúnmente Commonly
Hipotético/a Hipotéticamente Hypothetically

Adding accent marks in Spanish: Imperatives with pronouns

So far, we’ve only looked at cases where the Spanish accent marks are integral components of the words where they’re found. In this section, we’ll introduce the special cases where we need to add acute accents  to words that otherwise don’t bear them as part of their spelling.

Specifically, we need to add an accent mark to the verb form in cases where we attach pronouns directly to the end of the verb when giving commands. The reason for this relates to the third rule we saw in the previous section, since by adding the pronouns the word becomes longer so the stress of that word falls on the third-to-last syllable.

  • A cués tate ahora. – Go  to bed now.
  • Péi nense antes de salir. – Comb  your hair before you leave.

We go into more detail on this, with plenty of examples, in our post on nosotros commands .

Specific word groups that always have Spanish accent marks

In general, accent marks are just part of the spelling of a given Spanish word, so you’ll just need to learn each word and remember whether or not it has an accent.

There are a couple of groups of Spanish words, however, which all have accents on them. These include the Spanish question words , and sometimes the demonstrative pronouns . Let’s see each of these two groups in more detail here.

Spanish accent marks on question words

Spanish accent marks are present on all of the question words , whether when asking for information through direct or indirect questions.

¿Cuál? Which?
¿Cuándo? When?
¿Cuánto? How much?, How many?
¿Cómo? How?
¿Dónde? Where?
¿Por qué? Why?
¿Qué? What?, Which?
¿Quién? Who?

In the case of direct questions, the Spanish question words are easy to recognize:

  • ¿ Dónde  están tus zapatos nuevos? – Where  are your new shoes?

Question words always maintain their accents , even in sentences where the question isn’t as direct. Let us give you a language hack to recognize interrogative words in indirect questions and embedded questions: the question word (which should include an acute accent) always refers to a question or to something that you don’t know.

  • No sé dónde  están mis zapatos. – I don’t know where  my shoes are. (Embedded question)
  • Me preguntó quién  era yo. – He asked me who  I was. (Indirect question)

Meanwhile, Spanish has a group of relative pronouns  which are almost identical to the question words, but which don’t have accents. In the case of relative pronouns, they have a different function in the sentences and are used to state something that’s certain.

  • Este es el lugar donde vinimos anoche. – This is the place where  we came last night. (Relative pronoun)
  • María, quien  está caminando por la calle ahora, es mi novia. – María, the girl who  is walking down the street now, is my girlfriend. (Relative pronoun)

The takeaway from this is that the question words all have accents, while other forms of the near-identical words don’t. Check out our specific posts on Spanish question words  and on Spanish relative pronouns  for more details on each of these groups of words. We also have specific posts on the four accented forms of cuánto in Spanish , and on cuanto, cuanta, cuantos, and cuantas without the accent .

Spanish accent marks on demonstrative pronouns

Similarly to what we just saw with the accented vs unaccented question words and relative pronouns in Spanish, we traditionally differentiated between demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives by including accents on the demonstrative pronouns . However, since the language reform of 2010, including an accent mark on demonstrative pronouns has become optional.

These days, you’re now just as likely to find demonstrative pronouns   with or without a tilde . It’s up to you now! Demonstrative pronouns are marked with an accent only when there’s a demonstrative pronoun around in the same sentence, so a distinction needs to be made. See what we mean in this sentence:

  • Éste  no es el botón de este  abrigo. – This  is not the button of this  coat.

For a full lesson on the demonstrative adjectives in Spanish, have a look at our dedicated post on this, that, these, and those in Spanish . There we include a section on the unaccented vs accented demonstrative pronouns  in Spanish too!

Spanish homonyms with and without accent marks

A lot of Spanish words are nearly identical to each other, except that one has an accent and the other doesn’t. These are great examples of how important it is to include the accent for a given word, because the unaccented word often means something completely different!

A homonym is a word that is pronounced the same, but has a different spelling. In this section we’ll cover some of the most common Spanish homonyms where the only spelling difference is the Spanish accent mark.

Aún : It means still  or yet .

  • Aún  estás a tiempo. – You’re still  on time.

Aun : It may mean even , until , also , and not even , according to context.

  • Te daré 50 dólares, aun  100 si los necesitas. – I’ll give you 50 dollars, even  100 if you need them.

We actually have a full post on aun vs aún vs aunque  where you can get a complete lesson on these similar-sounding words.

Dé : It’s a conjugated form of the verb dar  – to give .

  • Dile a Susana que me dé  el dinero que me debe. – Tell Susana to give  me the money she owes me.

De : It’s the preposition of .

  • Es una cuestión de  actitud. – It’s a matter of attitude.

For more details on how to use de , we have a fun post on using de vs desde in Spanish .

Él : It’s the subject pronoun meaning he .

  • Él  no tuvo la culpa. – He  was not the one to blame.

El : It’s the definite article the .

  • Ésto es por el  tiempo que no tenemos. – This is for the  time we don’t have.

Of course we can also refer you to our beginner posts on Spanish subject pronouns  and on articles in Spanish .

Más : It’s an adverb of quantity meaning more .

  • Necesito más  pan, por favor. – I need more  bread, please.

Mas : It’s a formal way of saying but .

  • Quiero ayudarte, mas  no sé qué hacer. – I want to help you, but  I don’t know what to do.

Mí : It’s the prepositional object pronoun me .

  • El regalo es para mí . – The present is for me .

Mi : It’s the possessive pronoun my .

  • Mi  perro es muy dulce. – My  dog is so sweet.

Mí  is in a particular class of Spanish pronouns, so you may be interested in learning more in our post on prepositional pronouns in Spanish . On the other hand, you’re probably already familiar with mi , as one of the fundamental ways to express possession in Spanish .

Sé : It’s a verb form of two common Spanish verbs: saber  – to know , and ser  – to be .

  • Yo sé  que no vendrás. – I know  that you won’t come.
  • Sé  valiente. – Be  brave.

Se : It’s the reflexive pronoun meaning self .

  • Ciro no se  cepilla los dientes todos los días. – Ciro doesn’t brush his teeth every day.

For more on these, check out our posts on saber vs conocer , on ser vs estar , and on the Spanish reflexive pronouns .

Sí : It’s the affirmation yes .

  • Sí , iremos a la playa hoy. – Yes , we’ll go to the beach today.

Si : It’s the conditional particle if .

  • No sé si  iremos a la playa hoy. – I don’t know if we’ll go to the beach today.

Té : It’s the Spanish word for tea .

  • Me gustaría tomar un té . – I would like to have a tea .

Te : It’s the object pronoun you .

  • Te  quiero mucho. – I love you  so much.

Check out our related posts on Spanish object pronouns , and on how to say I love you in Spanish .

Tú : It’s the subject pronoun you .

  • Tú  no eres como yo. – You  are not like me.

Tu : It’s the possessive pronoun your .

  • No quiero tu  dinero. – I don’t want your  money.

Again, you can see more on these in our detailed posts on the subject pronouns in Spanish , and on the Spanish possessives .

Today we’ve covered some of the fundamental details and rules about Spanish accent marks. We’ve learned the three different types of accents in Spanish, the diaeresis, the tilde, and the acute accent, and we’ve seen how to use them.

We also went into a lot of depth on key rules to using acute accents. Namely, this comes down to which syllable is stressed, and is based on the last letter of the word. We also touched on contexts where we add accents to imperative verb forms that have pronouns attached to them.

Once we got through the main rules, we went through several specific groups of words which rely heavily on accents. We saw that question words always have accents, and that this used to also be the case for demonstrative adjectives. Finally, we went through a bunch of common one-syllable homonyms that have different meanings when written with and without an accent.

With that, you’re now as knowledgeable about Spanish accent marks as many native speakers! Now to give you a bit of practice, we’ll leave you with some exercises for you to practice your new accenting skills. Good luck!

Exercises: Spanish accent marks

Choose the right option from between the options in parentheses.

1. Tengo (fe – fé) en ti.

2. No sé (adonde – adónde) iremos el fin de semana.

3. Tenemos que ir de vacaciones a (Espana – España) pronto.

4. ¿Esto está (cientificamente – científicamente) probado?

5. No vamos a ir a la reunión (aun – aún) si nos pagan.

6. Fuimos a la casa de (tu – tú) abuela.

7. Me fascina la (linguistica – lingüística).

1. Tengo fe  en ti. – I have faith  in you.

2. No sé adónde  iremos el fin de semana. – I don’t know where  we’ll go on the weekend.

3. Tenemos que ir de vacaciones a España pronto. – We have to go on vacation to Spain  soon.

4. ¿Esto está científicamente  probado? – Is this scientifically  tested?

5. No vamos a ir a la reunión  aun si nos pagan. – We are not going to go to the meeting even if  they pay us.

6. Fuimos a la casa de tu abuela. – We went to your  grandma’s house.

7. Me fascina la lingüística . – Linguistics  fascinates me.

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Feminine nouns that take masculine articles: EL agua or La agua

Feminine nouns that take masculine articles: EL agua or LA agua, explained

Impersonal Se in Spanish

Explained: The Impersonal Se in Spanish

Subjunctive Spanish Triggers

Subjunctive Spanish Triggers: Know when to use the subjunctive

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A guide to the most important spanish punctuation marks.

Spanish punctuation represented by someone writing in a notebook on a desk.

Many languages share certain punctuation marks, so often you won’t have to relearn them from scratch. Spanish punctuation marks share quite a bit in common with English ones, but there are certainly differences. You may already know this, but one thing unique to Spanish is that question marks and exclamation marks are used at both the beginning and end of a question or exclamation.

A fundamental aspect of using punctuation marks is knowing whether you need to leave spaces before or after them. As a general rule, punctuation marks in Spanish are written right next to the previous word and are separated from the following word by a space, for example with the comma or period. Of course, there are some exceptions, which we’ll explain in this article. Let’s see which punctuation marks are the most used in Spanish.

The Most Important Spanish Punctuation Marks

Punto — period (.).

It’s mainly used to indicate the end of a sentence, paragraph, or text. It’s also used with abbreviations ( Sra. Robles — “Mrs. Robles”) and to express the time (14.45). The period is never used to separate or group the digits in a number in Spanish, regardless of its length (for example, the number 10 million is “10 000 000”).

Coma — Comma (,)

In general, the comma is used to separate elements within the same sentence. It appears in a number of different situations, but ;et’s take a look at the main ways this punctuation mark is used.

  • To separate items in a list. For example, Tienen un perro, un gato y un ratón. (“They have a dog, a cat, and a mouse.”) Remember that a comma isn’t used before the y (“and”) at the end of a list in Spanish.
  • To write numbers with decimals. For example, as 2,25 (although it’s also valid to use a period).
  • To indicate when you’re addressing someone. For example, Pablo, ayúdame con esto. (“Pablo, help me with this.”) or Venid, niños, la cena está lista. (“Come, children, dinner is ready.”) In these cases, the comma is crucial to avoid misunderstandings. After all, just like in English, it’s not the same to say Vamos a comer, niños (“Let’s eat, children”) as it is to say Vamos a comer niños  (“Let’s eat children”).

Also, remember not to use a comma between the subject and the verb in a sentence. For example, in the sentence Yo, voy al parque (“I, go to the park”) it’s not correct to put a comma between yo and voy .

Puntos Suspensivos — Ellipsis (…)

The ellipsis is mainly used at the end of an incomplete list ( Tenemos café, té, zumo… — “We have coffee, tea, juice…”) or to show doubt or suspense ( No lo sé… ¿tú que piensas? — “I don’t know… what do you think?”). The correct version of this punctuation mark contains only three dots. In addition, a space is always left after the ellipsis and the following word is only capitalized if it’s part of a new sentence, for example: En esta tienda venden comida, ropa, juguetes… Además, los dueños son muy amables. (“In this store they sell food, clothes, toys… Besides, the owners are very kind.”)

Dos Puntos — Colon (:)

This sign has several uses — let’s take a look at some of the most important ones:

  • To introduce a list. For example, Necesitamos estos ingredientes: harina, huevos y azúcar. (“We need these ingredients: flour, eggs, and sugar.”), or to introduce an example like Algunos días hago deporte: hoy he ido a nadar. (“Some days I do sports: today I went swimming.”) In this case, the following word is written in lowercase.
  • To write the time. E.g. 06:30 (although, as mentioned, it’s also valid to use a period).
  • In the header of letters and emails. For example, Hola, Laura: (“Hello, Laura:”) or Estimado cliente:  (“Dear customer:”). In this case, the colon is followed by a new line and the first word is capitalized.

As you’ve seen, colons are written right next to the previous word and separated from the following word with a space.

Signos De Interrogación — Question Marks (¿?)

They’re used to indicate the beginning and end of a question. As mentioned before, Spanish has both an opening sign (¿) and a closing sign (?), and you need to use both to write a question. Let’s look at a few examples.

  • ¿Dónde está tu chaqueta? (“Where’s your jacket?”)
  • Tengo un coche nuevo, ¿quieres verlo? (“I have a new car, want to see it?”)

Signos De Exclamación — Exclamation Marks (¡!)

They’re used in the same way as question marks, but for exclamations.

  • ¡Qué buena idea! (“What a good idea!”)
  • Me encanta esta canción, ¡es genial! (“I love this song, it’s great!”)

Comillas — Quotation Marks («»)

Spanish traditionally uses angle brackets («»), but it’s also not incorrect to use English quotation marks (“”). They’re mainly used with words from other languages and quotations, as well as for titles of books, movies and other artistic works.

  • La película «Dunkerque» se estrenó en 2017. (The film “Dunkirk” was released in 2017.)
  • Su respuesta fue: «Debería estar en un museo». (His response was, “It should be in a museum.”)

Barra — Slash (/)

The slash is used in some abbreviations, such as c/ (for calle , meaning “street”), which is common when writing postal addresses. It’s also used to show several possibilities ( Indique el/los día/días de la reserva. — “Enter the day/day(s) of the reservation.”) and to separate the day, month and year in dates (10/11/2005). For dates, keep in mind that the recommended date format in Spanish is “day/month/year.”

List Of Spanish Punctuation Marks

full stop/period
«» quotation marks
en dash
exclamation mark
question mark
bullet point
underscore/low dash

3 Key Differences Between English and Spanish Punctuation

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  • Writing Skills
  • History & Culture
  • Pronunciation
  • B.A., Seattle Pacific University

Spanish and English are similar enough in their punctuation that a beginner might look at something in Spanish and not notice anything unusual except for a few upside-down question marks or exclamation points. Look more closely, however, and you'll find other key differences that you should learn as soon as you're ready to start learning how to write Spanish.

Usually, as with other Indo-European languages, the punctuation conventions of English and Spanish are very similar. In both languages, for example, periods can be used to mark abbreviations or to end sentences, and parentheses are used for inserting nonvital remarks or words. However, the differences explained below are common and apply to both formal and information variations of the written languages.

Questions and Exclamations

As already mentioned, the most common difference is the use of inverted question marks and exclamation points , a feature that is almost unique to Spanish. (Galician, a minority language of Spain and Portugal, also uses them.) The inverted punctuation is used at the beginning of questions and exclamations. They should be used within a sentence if only part of the sentence contains the question or exclamation.

  • ¡Qué sorpresa! (What a surprise!)
  • ¿Quieres ir? (Do you want to go?)
  • Vas al supermercado, ¿no? (You're going to the supermarket, aren't you?)
  • No va ¡maldito sea! (He's not going, darn it!)

Dialogue Dashes

Another difference you're likely to see often is the use of a dash—such as the ones separating this clause from the rest of the sentence—to indicate the beginning of dialogue. The dash is also used to end dialogue within a paragraph or to indicate a change in speaker, although none is needed at the end of dialogue if the end comes at the end of a paragraph. In other words, the dash can substitute for quotation marks under some circumstances.

Here are examples of the dash in action. The paragraph mark in the translations is used to show where a new paragraph would begin in traditionally punctuated English, which uses separate paragraphs to indicate a change in speaker.

  • —¿Vas al supermercado?— le preguntó. —No sé. ("Are you going to the store?" he asked her. ¶ "I don't know.")
  • —¿Crees que va a llover? —Espero que sí. —Yo también. ("Do you think it is going to rain?" ¶ "I hope so." ¶ "So do I.")

When dashes are used, it isn't necessary to start a new paragraph with a change in speaker. These dashes are used by many writers instead of quotation marks, although the use of quotation marks is common. When standard quotation marks are used, the are used much as in English, except that, unlike in American English, commas or periods at the end of a quote are placed outside the quotation marks reather than inside.

  • "Voy al supermarcodo", le dijo. ("I'm going to the store," he told her.)
  • Ana me dijo: "La bruja está muerta". (Ana told me: "The witch is dead.")

Less common still is the use of angular quotation marks , which find more use in Spain than Latin America. Angular quotation marks are used much the same as regular quotation marks, and they are often used when it is necessary to place a quotation mark within other quotation marks:

  • Pablo me dijo: «Isabel me declaró, "Somos los mejores", pero no lo creo». (Pablo told me: "Isabel declared to me, 'We are the best,' but I don't believe it.")

Punctuation Within Numbers

A third difference you'll see in writing from Spanish-speaking countries is that comma and period usage in numbers is reversed from what it is in American English; in other words, Spanish uses a decimal comma. For example, 12,345.67 in English becomes 12.345,67 in Spanish, and $89.10, whether used to refer to dollars or the monetary units of some other countries, becomes $89,10. Publications in Mexico and Puerto Rico, however, generally use the same number style as is used in the United States.

Some publications also use an apostrophe to mark off the millions in numbers, such as with 12'345.678,90 for 12,234,678.90 in American English. This approach is rejected however, by some grammarians and recommended against by Fundéu , a prominent language watchdog organization.

Key Takeaways

  • Spanish uses both inverted and standard question and exclamation parks to mark off the beginning and end of questions and exclamations.
  • Some Spanish writers and publications use long dashes and angular quotation marks in addition to standard quotation marks.
  • In most Spanish-speaking areas, commas and periods are used within numbers in the opposite way that they are in American English.
  • How to Use Angular Quotation Marks in Spanish
  • Understanding Basic Spanish Punctuation
  • Months of the Year in Spanish
  • How Does Spanish Use Upside-Down Question and Exclamation Marks?
  • Exclamations in Spanish
  • How to Type Spanish Accents, Characters, and Punctuation in Windows
  • Using the Comma in Spanish
  • How To Make Spanish Accents and Symbols in Ubuntu Linux
  • Asking Questions in Spanish
  • How to Type Spanish Accents and Punctuation on a Mac
  • When To Place the Verb Before the Subject in Spanish
  • How to Use a Semicolon in Spanish
  • Collective Nouns Are Singular But Often With Plural Meaning
  • Using Personal Subject Pronouns in Spanish
  • 10 Facts About the Spanish Language
  • Counting: The Cardinal Numbers of Spanish




  • Aug 24, 2020

Punctuation Marks in Spanish

speech marks spanish

English and Spanish punctuation marks are used more or less the same way. There are a few variations, perhaps one of the most significant differences is that Spanish has opening question and exclamation marks while English does not. Opening marks didn't always exist in Spanish. In most languages ​​a single question mark is used at the end of the question phrase. This was the habitual use also in Spanish, until the 18th century, when the Real Academia Española declared it mandatory to start questions with the inverted question mark (¿), and end with the common question mark (?). The institution ordered the same for exclamation marks (¡) and (!). The adoption was slow, and you can find books from the 19th century for example, that don’t use such opening marks.

Eventually, however, it did become widely accepted. This is in part due to the nature of Spanish syntax and at times the difficulty in deducing when an interrogative phrase actually begins, as compared to other languages. Many linguists believe the question mark originated from the Latin word  qvaestio , meaning question. This word was reportedly abbreviated in the Middle Ages by scholars as just  qo . Over time, a capital “Q” was written over the “o”, and formed one letter. Then, it morphed into the modern question mark we know today.

It is worth mentioning that the influence of technology and the English language are changing the use of opening marks in informal contexts. It is not common to see them in online chats, or in text messages between friends. Only the closing marks are commonly used in such settings.

Do you know the names of the punctuation marks in Spanish? Several of these marks are part of expressions in the everyday vocabulary of natives, so it is useful for learners of Spanish to be familiar with them. Here we go:

Punctuation Marks: Signos de Puntuación:

full stop or period . punto

comma , coma

semicolon ; punto y coma

colon : dos puntos

quotation marks “ ” comillas

round brackets, parentheses ( ) paréntesis

apostrophe ’ apóstrofo

question mark ¿? signo de interrogación, de apertura y cierre

exclamation mark ¡! signo de exclamación, de apertura y cierre

ellipsis mark … puntos suspensivos

hyphen - guión

dash — raya

slash / barra

Here are a few expressions:

Michael Jordan es el mejor jugador de la historia, y punto.

Michael Jordan is the best player in history, period.

Creo, entre paréntesis, que este autor no está bien traducido.

As a side note, I think this author is not well translated.

Supongo que él piensa que eso fue, entre comillas, gracioso .

I guess he thinks that was, quote unquote, funny .

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~I’m a Spanish teacher based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2007 I have been teaching Spanish to people from all over the world. Whether looking for an online Spanish tutor, or in person while visiting Buenos Aires, please reach out to me with any questions you might have!~

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the complete guide to Spanish punctuation

The Complete Guide To Spanish Punctuation

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Understanding Spanish punctuation is a key part of learning Spanish reading and writing. While most Spanish punctuation marks will be familiar to you, some of them are used slightly differently or have different meanings.

Knowing how to use Spanish punctuation marks correctly will make your written Spanish more accurate and improve your chances of success in a Spanish-language job or academic environment.

It will also help you improve your reading comprehension and interpret Spanish texts more accurately – from newspapers to novels.

In this post, you'll discover some of the most common Spanish punctuation marks and how to use them. You'll also look at their names in Spanish, so that you can identify them when you hear people talk about them in conversation.

By the way, if you want to learn Spanish fast and have fun, my top recommendation for language learners is my Uncovered courses, which teach you through StoryLearning®.  Click here  to find out about my beginner course, Spanish Uncovered and try out the method for free.

22 Punctuation Marks And Symbols In Spanish

To start, here's a handy list of Spanish punctuation marks. In the next section, you'll discover how to use them.

Period, decimal point
Question marks
Exclamation mark/point
: Colon
; Semi-colon
« » Quotation marks (Spanish)
Quotation marks (English)
Single quotation mark, apostrophe
_ Underscore
( ) Parenthesis
Em dash
[ ] Brackets
+ Plus sign
Minus sign
% Percent sign
@ At sign
* Asterisk
\ Backslash
~ Tilde

How To Use Punctuation Marks In Spanish

speech marks spanish

Punto (Period/Full Stop)

The period or full stop is one of the most common punctuation marks in any language. Just like in English, it’s used to mark the end of a sentence in written Spanish. However, Spanish has three different types of periods depending on where it’s used in the sentence:

  • When the paragraph continues you use punto y seguido
  • Punto y aparte is used for ending a paragraph
  • You use punto final for ending an entire document

These periods all look the same, so you don’t really need to be on the lookout for them; it’s only really important if you’re discussing the text academically.

The punto can be used in other contexts too. As in English, it’s used in urls and email addresses: instead of “dot com,” .com is read as punto com .

The period is also used for abbreviations, such as:

  • Sr. ( Señor)
  • c.c. ( centímetros cúbicos )
  • EE. UU. ( Estados Unidos)

You can also use a period when referring to the time. This is more common than using a colon, as we do English. For example, 1 o’clock is 1.00 instead of 1:00.

Finally, the period is used to write numerals . Unlike in English, though, the period and comma are reversed. Periods are used to separate thousands, while a comma is used to separate decimals. For example, a large sum might look like this:

Keep in mind that if you encounter numerals in the U.S. or Mexico , they’ll typically follow U.S. conventions, so they would be written like this:

We won’t spend any time here on the colon ( dos puntos ), semicolon ( punto y coma) , or ellipsis ( punto suspensivos) because they’re used just as they are in English.

Next, let's look at the coma (comma).

speech marks spanish

Coma (Comma)

The coma, or comma, is another punctuation mark that’s used a lot like it is in written English. We’ve already seen one use for it (as a decimal marker), but it’s also used in written text to separate different parts of a sentence.

For example:

If you are hungry, let’s eat.
My house, which is big and green, is at the end of the street.
You’re from Barcelona, right?
I need apples, oranges, and bananas.

One difference that you may notice is that Spanish doesn’t use the Oxford comma. Or a comma after the second-to-last item in a list. In English, the use of the Oxford comma varies from country to country. But in Spanish, it’s avoided entirely.

This means that if you’re listing three or more items, you don’t include a comma before the word “ y ” or “and,” even if you would ordinarily use it in English.

Next you'll discover one of the punctuation marks that differs most from English.

Signos De Interrogación Y Exclamación (Question Marks And Exclamation Points)

speech marks spanish

The use of question marks and exclamation points is one of the most visible differences between English and Spanish punctuation marks.

Those upside-down questions marks are hard to miss when reading written Spanish. But you can struggle to find them on a keyboard when trying to type in Spanish!

These punctuation marks serve the same purpose in Spanish – to ask a question or to show excitement – but you must use them before and after the phrase.

Omitting the inverted question mark at the beginning may happen in some contexts, such as a text message or social media post, but it looks unprofessional in formal writing.

It’s important to note that in some cases, only part of the sentence needs to be included within the question marks or exclamation points. For example, if the name of the person who’s being addressed comes at the beginning of the sentence, it isn’t included:

Maria, how are you?
The food is good, isn’t it?
If you can’t come, why not?
I’m tired, let’s go home!

But everything that comes after the first question mark or exclamation point is included:

Are you at home, Ma?

You’ll notice that the first word of the question or exclamation isn’t capitalised, unless it’s at the beginning of the sentence or happens to be a proper noun or name.

For an explanation (in Spanish) of how to use Spanish question and exclamation marks, hit play on the video below from the StoryLearning Spanish YouTube channel.

Multiple Spanish Punctuation Marks

You can also use question marks and exclamation points together, which isn’t common in formal English, as well as multiple exclamation points to increase the emphasis:

What are you doing?!
Who’s there?!
How much does it cost?!
Oh, my God!!!

As you can see, either the question mark or exclamation point can be used first, or they can be combined in either order.

Comillas (Quotation Marks)

speech marks spanish

Comillas, or quotation marks, come in several different forms in Spanish. Firstly, there’s the angled quotation mark (« »), or comilla española, which you'll find in European Spanish and other Romance languages like French.

Secondly, there’s the English quotation mark (“ “), or comillas inglesas , and also the single quotation mark, comilla simple , which in English also serves as an apostrophe. But these quotation marks are more commonly used in Latin American Spanish.

You can use quotation marks just as you would in English: to identify a quotation or dialogue, or to write the title of a book or movie:

He told me “I love you” last night.
I’ve already read “Don Quixote,” have you read it too?
“There’s no time to waste!” she said.
“Who’s there?” For a moment, no one answered.

While comillas are mostly used the same way in both languages, you might notice a few differences in how other punctuation marks are applied.

For example, in Spanish, you’ll need to use a punto after the quotation mark, even if it already includes another mark, like a question mark or exclamation point, that would be sufficient in English.

Also, English allows for some marks, like the comma, to fall within the quotation marks even if it isn’t part of the title of a book or movie; Spanish does not.

Because of the above rules you’ll occasionally end up with more punctuation marks in a row than would be natural in English.

Other Spanish Punctuation Marks And Symbols

speech marks spanish

So far, you've seen most of the major Spanish punctuation marks that you need to know in order to read and write in Spanish . But there are a few other symbols you may encounter, such as accent marks and numerical symbols.

Accent marks in Spanish are called tildes , although in English, we use the term tilde to refer only to a single diacritical mark, the (~) that goes over the letter n .

In Spanish, this isn’t actually treated as an accent mark, because the n and ñ are distinct letters of the Spanish alphabet! Instead, the (~) is referred to as virgulilla .

You can learn more about how and when to use Spanish accent marks in the video below.

When it comes to numerical symbols, (%) is referred to as por ciento , while (+) and (-) are más and menos .

It’s a good idea to be familiar with the names of these symbols, because they may come up when speaking aloud in Spanish. For example, a phone number with an area code (+57) would be pronounced as más cinco siete .

Likewise, some common Internet symbols have different names in Spanish. The at sign (@) is called arroba , while the backslash is barra invertida (although may be referred to as “slash” even in spoken Spanish). Guion bajo refers to an underscore.

If you listen to Spanish podcasts , you may hear the host invite you to email them at an address like “ info guion bajo 2021 arroba podcast punto com”, which means:

[email protected]

How To Type Spanish Punctuation Marks On Your Keyboard

speech marks spanish

Learning Spanish punctuation marks is fairly easy. But typing in Spanish on your keyboard is a different story. Depending on your operating system, you can use keyboard shortcuts to access Spanish punctuation marks, such as the ¡ and ¿.

On a Mac, you can use the Option key for some of them. Opt + 1 gives you an inverted exclamation point, while Opt + Shift + ? gets you an inverted question mark.

However, other devices have different keyboard shortcuts, so we won’t go into them all here.

Spanish Punctuation: Wrapping It Up

Just remember that punctuation marks are an integral part of Spanish, and leaving them out isn’t an option.

Take the time to learn them and use them properly, and you’ll be able to express yourself more accurately in Spanish and read it aloud more fluently!

speech marks spanish

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Parts of Speech in Spanish: A Simple Guide to the 9 Parts

speech marks spanish

Parts of speech in Spanish are the different words we use to form a sentence. In short, they’re the fundamentals of Spanish grammar. So, getting familiar with parts of speech is crucial for articulating coherent sentences. 

For that reason, in this guide, we’ll go over the 9 parts of speech in Spanish. Here is a quick overview of what you’ll learn: 

  • What Are Parts of Speech
  • Determiners
  • Conjunctions
  • Prepositions
  • Interjections
  • Downloadable PDF

By the end of this, you’ll better understand the building blocks we use to form sentences in Spanish. 

What Are Parts of Speech in Spanish

In Spanish, a sentence is composed of different words or elements. These elements are called parts of speech: 

chart showing the parts of a speech in spanish

Check the graphic above. Each part of speech in Spanish has a different purpose in the sentence. But before learning the specifics of these elements, there’s a general rule you should know. 

Spanish parts of speech can be variable or invariable words. In simple terms, variable parts of speech are words that change to mark gender or number, whereas invariable parts of speech are unchangeable grammatical terms. 

This is a basic Spanish grammar rule that you need to apply. Use the following graphic as a reference whenever you wonder if a word has a plural form or gender in Spanish: 

chart showing variable and invariable parts of speech in spanish

Take Note : In Spanish, parts of speech are called categorías gramaticales . 

Different Parts of Speech in Spanish

In Spanish, there are 9 parts of speech: 

  • Prepositions 

In the sections below, we’ll learn how each part of speech in Spanish works. I’ve included examples of each category so you can relate the vocabulary you already know with its corresponding part of speech. 

Take Note : Some articles or books may use the category ‘articles’ instead of ‘determiners’ as part of the speech. But, as you’re about to learn, articles are a subset of Spanish determiners. 

Nouns (sustantivos)

Nouns, called sustantivos in Spanish, are words we use to name things, people, or concepts. These words are variable, which means they often have variations to mark gender or number. 

Here are some examples of basic nouns in Spanish : 

  • Mesa: Table
  • Español: Spanish
  • Casa : House
  • Coche : Car
  • Gente : People
  • Juan : Juan 
  • Lugar : Place
  • Trabajo : Job
  • Perro : Dog

In Spanish sentences, nouns can work as the subject, direct or indirect object . You can see this in the example below. I’ve bolded the subject and underlined the object so they’re easy to identify.

La mesa es grande. The table is big.

La niña come manzanas. The girl eats apples.

Juan no tiene trabajo. Juan doesn’t have a job.

Take Note: Nouns in Spanish have their own classifications and rules. As a variable part of speech, one of their most important rules is related to marking their gender. Check my guide on gender of nouns in Spanish to learn more about this. 

Verbs (verbos)

Verbs express the action performed by the subject or its state of being. When we conjugate them, verbs agree with the subject and convey the time when the action took place (called Spanish tense ). 

Here are some examples of words that fall into this Spanish part of speech: 

  • Beber : To drink
  • Estar : To be
  • Hay : There is / There are / To be
  • Hablar : To speak
  • Ponerse : To put on
  • Quedar : To fit
  • Ser : To be
  • Tener : To have
  • Vivir : To live

No hay leche. There’s no more milk.

Yo estoy cansada. I am tired.

Susy es mi prima. Susy is my cousin.

Take Note: Verbs are the core of a sentence. Without them, our statement would be incomplete. Depending on their characteristics, verbs can be transitive, intransitive, or impersonal .

Adjectives (adjetivos)

Adjectives are the Spanish part of speech that defines or describes the characteristics of a noun. Adjectives mark the number and, sometimes, the gender of the noun they accompany.

Check this list with common adjectives in Spanish : 

  • Amable : Nice
  • Alto : Tall
  • Bonito : Pretty
  • Caro : Expensive
  • Divertido : Fun
  • Guapo : Handsome
  • Inteligente : Intelligente
  • Morado : Purple 
  • Paciente : Patient 
  • Pequeño : Small

La mesa es pequeña . The table is small .

Me gusta el celular morado . I like the purple phone.

As you can see from the examples above, adjectives enrich your ability to express ideas, from describing the size of things to colors and much more.

Take Note: Because they’re qualifying words, adjectives are commonly used to describe someone or something. 

Adverbs (adverbios)

Adverbs, or adverbios in Spanish , provide more information about the verb. They also intensify a quality expressed by an adjective or another adverb. 

  • Aquí : Here
  • Ayer : Yesterday
  • Bien : Well
  • Encima : On top of
  • Mal : Badly
  • Pronto : Soon
  • Rápidamente : Quickly
  • Ya : Already

Notice that adverbs do not have gender or number: 

La casa es muy bonita. The house is very pretty.

Tus llaves están aquí . Your keys are here .

Take Note: Spanish adverbs have different classifications depending on the information they deliver. Such as time, manner, place, quantity, or degree. 

Pronouns (pronombres)

Spanish pronouns are words used to replace a noun. Pronouns maintain the same functions and properties as the noun they’re substituting.

Some examples of words that fall into this part of speech in Spanish are: 

  • Yo : I ( subject pronouns )
  • Te: yourself ( reflexive pronouns )
  • Le : him / her / it ( indirect object pronouns )
  • Lo : him / it ( direct object pronouns )
  • Este : this ( demonstrative pronouns )
  • La cual : which ( relative pronouns )

¿Y los chocolates? Los dejé aquí. And the chocolates? I left them here.

Ellos no hablan español, pero nosotros sí. They don’t speak Spanish, but we do.

Check my guide on Spanish pronouns to learn more about how and when to use each type of pronoun. 

Determiners (determinantes)

Determiners is the part of speech in Spanish that makes a noun more specific. They’re always placed in front of nouns.  

Some examples of determiners in Spanish are: 

  • Possessive adjectives
  • Demonstratives
  • Quantifiers

chart showing examples of determiners in spanish

[Determiner] + [noun]

El niño come galletas. The boy eats cookies.

Tengo muchos amigos. I have a lot of friends.

Estos libros son azules. These books are blue.

Except for definite and indefinite articles , the other types of determiners are also known as ‘adjectives’ (e.g. possessive adjectives , demonstrative adjectives , etc.). The main difference is that determiners always go before the noun, while qualifying adjectives go after it. 

Conjunctions (conjunciones)

Spanish conjunctions are connecting words that help you join words and sentences together. Some common examples of conjunctions are: 

  • Que : That / Who / Which
  • Sino : But 

As you can see in the examples below, conjunctions in Spanish join simple or more complex sentences. 

Clara y Patricia son mis primas. Clara and Patricia are my cousins.

Recuerda que debes limpiar las ventanas. Remember that you must clean the windows.

Prepositions (preposiciones)

Prepositions in Spanish allow you to link words to indicate origin, destiny, direction, place, cause, and other similar concepts. Simply put, prepositions explain the relationship between the elements you’re linking. 

Here are some examples of basic prepositions: 

  • A : To / At / By 
  • De : From / Of
  • En : On / In / For
  • Para : For / To
  • Por : For / By
  • Sobre : On / Over / Above / About

Dejé el lápiz en la mesa. I left the pencil on the table.

Lleva esto a la sala, por favor. Take this to the living room, please.

Interjections (interjecciones)

Interjections are used to express an emotion or reaction to something. This Spanish part of speech is unchangeable unless it’s built with a verb and you’re addressing someone: 

  • Ay : Ouch / Oh
  • Olé: Bravo / Hurray 
  • Ojalá : Hopefully 
  • Uy : Wow / Ow
  • Vaya : Damn / Well
  • No manches: Damn / You’re kidding

¡Ay! ¡Las llaves! Oh! The keys!

¡Uy! Casi chocamos. Wow! We almost crashed.

¿Por qué hicieron eso? ¡ No manchen! Why did you guys do that? Damn!

Notice that each Spanish dialect may have its own informal interjections. For example, olé is only applicable in Castilian Spanish . 

Parts of speech in Spanish are the core elements of sentences. It’s highly likely that you already know some of these terms individually. Here are some key points you should remember: 

  • Spanish parts of speech are the different types of words we use in a sentence. 
  • Parts of speech change to mark gender or number ( variable ) or may never change ( invariable ).
  • Determiners make the noun more specific.
  • Nouns name or label things, people, or concepts.
  • Verbs express the action or state of being of a noun.
  • Adjectives qualify and describe nouns.
  • Pronouns replace nouns and represent their characteristics.
  • Adverbs provide additional information about the circumstances surrounding an action. They also intensify the quality of an adverb or adjective. 
  • Prepositions link two words together while indicating their relationship. 
  • Conjunctions link words and sentences together.
  • Interjections express emotions or reactions.

Building sentences correctly should be easier now that you know the parts of speech in Spanish. Buena suerte 😉

Download the Spanish Parts of Speech PDF

The 9 parts of speech are critical to learning Spanish grammar and mastering the language. That’s why I’ve created a free PDF for you with the graphics, important notes and key points from this guide as well as links to relevant Spanish language resources.

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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Indirect Speech in Spanish Grammar

Indirect speech in spanish: the basics, how to change direct speech to indirect speech in spanish, changing the tense in indirect speech, changing information about place and time.

  • Lingolia Plus Spanish

What is estilo indirecto ?

Reported speech or indirect speech (el estilo indirecto) is when we repeat what another person has said without directly quoting it.

This means that we often have to adapt or change certain parts of speech such as pronouns , tenses and time and place markers to reflect that we are only reporting what was said, not repeating it word-for-word.

Learn all about reported speech in Spanish with Lingolia, then practise in the interactive exercises.

Alicia se encuentra en una cafetería a su amigo Juan trabajando.
Alicia: «¡Hola, Juan! ¿Cómo va todo?»
Juan: «Hola, Alicia. Pues

Días más tarde, Alicia llama por teléfono a una amiga y le cuenta lo ocurrido:
Alicia: «Hace unos días me encontré a Juan en una cafetería. . ¡Menuda casualidad!»

Direct speech repeats someone’s utterance word-for-word and is placed within quotation marks (comillas: «…»).

Indirect speech reproduces something a person has said without quoting them exactly.

Indirect speech is therefore introduced by a reporting verb such as decir say , afirmar confirm , contar tell , exclamar exclaim , explicar explain , preguntar ask  …

Sentences in reported speech take the following form: reporting verb + que (= that)

Questions in reported speech do not take question marks.

Yes-no questions (oraciones interrogativas totales) take the following form: reporting verb + si (= if)

When a question contains a question word (oración interrogativa parcial) , we use this in place of si : reporting verb + question word

Indirect Questions

Remember: questions in indirect speech are not the same thing as indirect questions (las oraciones interrogativas indirectas).

To learn more, check out our page on indirect questions in Spanish grammar .

There are several parts of speech that we have to change when converting direct speech to indirect speech in Spanish.

Luckily the process is almost exactly the same as it is in English, which means you already know more than you think!

Let’s start off with a simple example in English:

In this example, we can see that the following parts of speech have changed:

  • personal pronouns (I → he)
  • verb (like → liked)
  • demonstrative pronoun (this → that)

In Spanish, we change the exact same things (plus a few others). Let’s break them down in detail:

  • personal pronouns (yo, tú, él, ella …) Example: Juan: «( Yo ) estoy estupendamente». Juan “ → Juan dijo que ( él ) estaba estupendamente. He said that underline">he was great. 1st person to 3rd
  • possessives (mi, tu, su …)
  • demonstratives (este, esta, ese …)
  • information about place and time
  • the verb changes its person and tense (more info on this below) Example: Juan: « Estoy estupendamente». Juan “I → Juan dijo que estaba estupendamente. Juan said that he underline">was doing great. 1st person to 3rd; present tense to imperfect

When moving from direct to indirect speech, we often have to change the tense of the verb.

Whether we have to change the tense depends on the tense of the reporting verb.

No change in tense

The tense in the indirect speech stays the same if the reporting verb is in the present, future or perfect tense (él cuenta, él contará, él ha contado ). The person still changes.

Exception: the imperative

The imperative is a special case. Even if the reporting verb is in the present or perfect, the imperative does not remain the same in the indirect speech; it changes to become the present subjunctive .

However, when the reporting verb is in the past, the imperative behaves like other tenses and changes to the imperfect subjunctive in indirect speech.

When to change the tense in indirect speech

When the reporting verb is in the preterite, imperfect or past perfect (él contó, el contaba, el había contado ), the tense of the indirect speech moves back one. This is known as backshifting.

The table below shows how to backshift the tense from direct speech to indirect speech when you have a reporting verb in the past.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech Example

«Estoy estupendamente».

→ Juan dijo que estaba estupendamente. “I’m great.”
→ Juan said that he was great.

«He empezado la semana pasada».

→ Juan dijo que había empezado la semana anterior. “I’ve paid the bill.”
→ Juan said that he had started the week before.

(no change)

«El helada estaba muy rico».

→ Andrea dijo que el helado estaba muy rico. “The ice cream was delicious.”
→ Andrea said that the ice cream was delicious.

«Avisaré a Marina».

→ Andrea dijo que avisaría a Marina. “I will let Marina know.”
→ Andrea said that she would let Marina know.

«Habré perdido el monedero».

→ Andrea dijo que habría perdido el monedero. I must have lost my wallet.”
→ Andrea said that she must have lost her wallet.

«Quedemos algún día».

→ Juan sugirió que quedaran algùn día. “Let’s meet up one day.”
→ Juan suggested that they meet up one day.

«Quizá haya olvidado el monedero en casa».

→ Andrea pensó que quizá hubiera/hubiese olvidado el monedero en casa. “Maybe I left my wallet at home.”
→ Andrea thought that maybe she had left her wallet at home.

Time and place references have to be adapted in indirect speech.

The table below shows how to convert time and place references from direct speech to indirect speech.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
hoy aquel día
ahora entonces
ayer el día anterior
la semana pasada la semana anterior
el próximo año al año siguiente
mañana al día siguiente
aquí allí
este/a … aquello/a …

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Spanish Grammar for Beginners: The 9 Parts of Speech

One of the most important parts of Spanish grammar for beginners is parts of speech!

You’ve probably heard your Spanish teacher talk about terms like sustantivo, verbo, and artículo in class, but what do they mean? Well, these are just a few of the parts of speech in Spanish!

Today, you’ll learn what these terms mean as I go over the 9 parts of speech in Spanish. Understanding how to use these terms can even help you learn Spanish faster! You can even test your new knowledge at the end of the post with a fun grammar quiz. 

What is a “Part of Speech”?

There are thousands of words in English and Spanish. Luckily, parts of speech exist to help categorize these words.

Parts of speech group words together based on their function in a sentence. In Spanish, the main parts of speech are: 

  • Preposition
  • Conjunction
  • interjection 

The parts of speech are one of the most important Spanish grammar rules for beginners. There is lots of information packed into these 9 categories!

Knowing the Parts of Speech Makes Learning Spanish Easier

Understanding parts of speech is incredibly useful when learning a foreign language. Knowing a word’s part of speech tells you how to use it in a sentence. This knowledge makes it easier to properly construct sentences. 

Additionally, it’s important to know the parts of speech so that you’re not confused when your Spanish teacher talks about conjunctions, adverbs, and articles. Knowing some basic grammar terminology will help you better understand what’s going on in class. 

Discover the 9 Parts of Speech in Spanish

If you want to learn Spanish grammar for beginners, then knowing the parts of speech is a must. These categories are the building blocks for Spanish grammar. 

1. Articles ( Los artículos )

Articles draw special attention to the noun that they precede. The type of article shows the way that the speaker is thinking about the noun. The speaker could be talking about the noun in a general sense or as a specific item. The two distinct types of articles are definite and indefinite. 

Definite Articles

Definite articles specify which object, person, or place the speaker is talking about.

“The” is the only definite article in English. In Spanish, however, there are 4 definitive articles: los, las, el , and la . 

Again, these artículos change depending on the noun that they precede.

  • Masculine singular: el
  • Masculine plural: los
  • Feminine singular: la
  • Feminine plural: las

Let’s look at some examples.

La maestra pone el lápiz en la mesa. The teacher puts the pencil on the table.

El perro corre en el patio. The dog runs in the yard.

Indefinite Articles

Indefinite articles are a nonspecific way to refer to a noun. “A” and “an” are the only two English indefinite articles that exist. However, in Spanish, there are four.

Again, these artículos change depending on the noun that they proceed.

  • Masculine singular: un 
  • Masculine plural: unos
  • Feminine singular: una 
  • Feminine plural: unas

Look how the sentences change with indefinite articles.

Una maestra pone un lápiz en una mesa. A teacher puts a pencil on a table.

Un perro corre en un patio. A dog runs in a yard.

2. Nouns ( Los sustantivos )

You’ve probably heard that nouns in English are people, places, and things. Luckily, the same holds true in Spanish!

Nouns, or sustantivos , can be objects, feelings, and even concepts. They help you talk about the physical and imaginary world. Nouns are essentially names that identify objects. 

Many Spanish words have a specific ending that tells you that the word is a noun. 

Spanish Noun Endings

– ción/-ión

  • canción – song
  • transición – transition
  • aprobación – approval
  • unidad – unity
  • profundidad – depth
  • hermandad – brother/sisterhood
  • sencillez – simplicity
  • fluidez – fluidity
  • diez – ten

Nouns can occur anywhere in a sentence, but they usually appear as the subject at the beginning of the sentence or as an object at the end. 

El perro corre en el jardín. The dog runs in the yard.

Los niños juegan con el gato en la sala. The children play with the cat in the living room.

3. Adjectives (Los adjetivos)

Adjectives describe nouns. You use adjectives all the time! They add creativity, detail, and personality to your sentences. Adjectives help describe people, places, and the things around you. 

Common Adjectives

  • grande – big/large
  • hermoso –  beautiful
  • azul – blue
  • rápido – fast

Be careful with your adjective placement! In English, adjectives come before the noun that they describe. However, in Spanish, they come after the noun. 

Example Sentences

La maestra nueva pone el lápiz amarillo en la mesa sucia. The new teacher puts the yellow pencil on the dirty table.

El perro feo corre en el patio grande. The ugly dog runs in the big yard.

Los niños traviesos juegan con el gato gris en la sala desorganizada. The mischievous children play with the gray cat in the messy living room.

4.  Verbs ( Los verbos )

Los verbos describe an action or a state of being. Verbs make up an important part of Spanish grammar for beginners. Every sentence has a verb! 

Common Verbs

  • pensar – to think
  • vivir – to live
  • ser – to be

The above verbs are in their neutral state, which is called the infinitive form. You can tell when a verb is in its infinitive form because it will end in -ar, -er, or -ir . 

However, most sentences won’t use verbs in their infinitive form. Instead, verbs are usually conjugated in the present, past, future, or other tenses. Spanish verbs require a lot of conjugating! Learn more about Spanish verb conjugation with this guide .

See if you can identify the verbs in each of the following sentences. 

La maestra pone el lápiz en la mesa. (poner) The teacher puts the pencil on the table.

El perro corre en el patio. (correr) The dog runs in the yard.

5.  Adverbs ( Los adverbios )

Just like how adjectives describe nouns, adverbs add a description to verbs. Adverb even has the word “verb” inside of it!

For example, instead of saying “he runs,” you can say “he runs fast.” “Fast” describes how the action is done. 

Common Spanish Adverbs

Los adverbios in Spanish have many different forms, but the most common ending is – mente . In English, they end in -ly. 

  • lentamente – slowly
  • felizmente – happily
  • cuidadosamente – carefully

Take a look at how adverbs affect these sentences.

La maestra pone el lápiz cuidadosamente en la mesa. The teacher carefully puts the pencil on the table.

El perro corre rápidamente en el patio. The dog runs quickly in the yard.

Los niños juegan silenciosamente con el gato en la sala. The children play quietly with the cat in the living room.

6. Pronouns ( Los pronombres )

A pronoun is essentially a word that substitutes a noun. You don’t want to keep using the same noun over and over again when telling a story. This repetition would sound boring and cluttered. Instead, you use a pronoun to replace the noun that you are talking about. 

Take a look at this paragraph without pronouns:

The teacher walked into class. Then the teacher told us that the teacher had a surprise. The teacher brought cupcakes to class!

Now take a look at the same paragraph using pronouns:

The teacher walked into class. Then she told us that she had a surprise. She brought cupcakes to class!

See how important pronouns are? They make the paragraph much more clear and concise!

Spanish Subject Pronouns

Spanish subject pronouns are the most common type of pronoun. They are broken down by the gender and number of the noun they replace. 

You (all)
You (all)

Try to identify the subject pronouns in these sentences. 

Ella pone el lápiz en la mesa. She puts the pencil on the table.

Él corre en el patio. He runs in the yard.

7. Prepositions ( Las preposiciones )

Prepositions explain the relationships between nouns. They tell you how two nouns are related, often referring to a location. 

Common Spanish Prepositions

  • en – in, on
  • por – by, because of
  • debajo – below
  • adentro – inside

These words are normally sandwiched by two nouns, as you can see in the following examples.

El perro corre alrededor del patio. The dog runs around the yard.

8. Conjunctions ( Las conjunciones )

Conjunctions are words that connect nouns, verbs, phrases, and sentences. They help you piece together different ideas. 

There are two main types of conjunctions: simple and complex. The simple conjunctions are the ones that you use all the time. In English, they are “and”, “but”, and “or”. Complex conjunctions, on the other hand, have a little more depth. 

Simple Spanish Conjunctions

  • y – and
  • o – or
  • pero – but

Complex Spanish Conjunctions

  • sin embargo – however 
  • por lo tanto – therefore 
  • así que – so
  • aunque – even though

Take a look at how these conjunctions act in a sentence. 

La maestra pone el lápiz en la mesa pero se cae. The teacher puts the pencil on the table but it falls off.

Aunque el perro y el niño corrieron en el patio, todavía tienen energía. Even though the dog and the boy ran in the yard, they still have energy.

Los niños juegan con el gato en la sala. Así que, no nos van a molestar. The children play with the cat in the living room. So, they will not bother us.

9. Interjections ( Las interjecciones )

Interjections are abrupt remarks that help you to express different emotions. They also help to improve your Spanish by making it sound more natural! 

Interjections are a fun part of Spanish grammar for beginners. They are short words or phrases so they are easy to remember. Plus, native speakers will love hearing you use these natural Spanish sounds. 

Common Interjections in English

Common interjections in spanish.

Interjections can vary in their meaning. Context is extremely important to help decode them. Volume, pitch, and speed can also help show meaning. Interjections can also be filler words. They are a way to fill in a space or pause while the speaker thinks of the next thing they want to say. In this way, they are a means of not giving up airtime or preventing someone from interrupting.

Take a look at how interjections add emotion and feeling to these sentences. 

¡Venga! La maestra ya ha empezado la clase. Come on! The teacher already started class.

¡Ay! El perro está fuera del patio. Hey! The dog is outside of the yard.

Spanish Grammar Books

Here are some of the best Spanish grammar for beginners books. Whether you’re looking for grammar books for preschoolers , kids , or adults , there is a book for everyone!

Spanish Grammar for Beginners Quiz

Grammar exercises are a great way to reinforce what you’ve learned. This Spanish grammar test for beginners is an easy way to practice. Try to see if you can get all 10 questions right!

1. Gato is a…

2. ella is a…, 3. alto is an…, 5. en is a...., 6. las is an…, 7. ah is an…, 8. lentamente is an…, 9. correr is a…, 10. ciudad is a…, learn even more spanish grammar for beginners with a free class.

Now that you’ve explored Spanish grammar for beginners, it’s time to impress your language teacher! If you’re still searching for the perfect Spanish teacher, consider trying a free class with Homeschool Spanish Academy. We offer programs for students of all ages at competitive pricing . Sign up today and our certified teachers from Guatemala will have you speaking Spanish after just one class!

Ready to learn more Spanish grammar and vocabulary? Check these out!

  • 20 Most Common Subjunctive Triggers in Spanish
  • 23 Common Spanish Prepositions You Can Use Today
  • 25 Common Subjunctive Phrases in Spanish Conversation
  • What Is an Infinitive in Spanish?
  • A Complete Guide to Imperfect Conjugation for Beginners
  • How to Talk About the Temperature in Spanish: Fahrenheit, Celcius, and Descriptions
  • A Complete Guide to Preterite Conjugation for Beginners
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Spanish Grammar Help

Me gusta aprender lenguajes. A ti te gusta aprender lenguajes? Ever wonder whether you’re using a direct or indirect object pronoun ? Struggling with the difference between “que,” “como,” and “cual”? Here we’re offering pages on prepositions, pronouns, participles, and all the other tricky Spanish grammar concepts you’ll need to master to speak Spanish like a pro! Check back with us soon for Spanish grammar help.

Direct and Indirect Objects

“The family cooks the dinner. / La familia cocina la cena.” Is there a direct or indirect object in this sentence? How can you tell? Learn more about the similarities and differences between direct and indirect objects here.

Interrogative Words

In English, you may ask a question such as “Does Jorge speak Spanish?” This question seems pretty straightforward; however, did you know that there are at least three different ways to ask this question in Spanish? You could say “¿Jorge habla español?” You could also say “¿Habla Jorge español?” Questions in Spanish can be asked in more specific and unique ways than questions in English, so make sure you read all about Spanish interrogative words.

Negative Words

In order to speak properly in Spanish, you’ll have to forget the English grammar rule that says double negatives are bad. In fact, double negatives are often used to express the “no” sentiment in Spanish. For example, in English, you may say, “No, I didn’t say anything.” However, in Spanish, the same sentence may be phrased, “No dije nada.” Be sure to read all about how to express negatives in Spanish.

Prepositions of Place

Prepositions in Spanish are used very similar to prepositions in English, except some of them have more than one meaning; that meaning depends on the context of the sentence. Some prepositions need “de” added, while others do not. You can learn the ins and outs of using prepositions in Spanish right here. We offer a comprehensive list of prepositions as well as their English translations and examples, all in one spot so you can learn all of the most common prepositions at once!

Personal Pronouns

Pronouns are used so that you don’t have to keep repeating the name of the object to which you’re referring. For example, you would not say, “That is my baseball, can you give me my baseball so I can put my baseball away?” You would probably say, “That is my baseball, can you give it to me so that I can put it away?” Here, you’re substituting the word “baseball” with the word “it.” Everyone knows what you are talking about, because you specified it early on in your sentence. Therefore, you can use the pronoun “it” to keep from sounding too redundant. The same goes in Spanish! Here, you’ll find a list of pronouns and specific directions on how to use them.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns are used to indicate ownership. For example, you don’t always say, “That is the baseball that belongs to me.” Instead, you would say, “That is my baseball,” or “That baseball is mine.” The same goes for Spanish! Here, you’ll find direct translations from English pronouns to Spanish pronouns, as well as a guide to using possessive pronouns effectively in Spanish.

Still need help?

If you didn’t find what you were looking for here, you can also ask a question in Spanish to get free help from a  Spanish tutor! If you’re looking for more advanced help learning Spanish, contact a Spanish tutor today!

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  • Your Guide to the 9 Parts of Speech in Spanish With Examples

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When learning a new language, like Spanish, it’s good to know the basic parts of speech that help you make sense of things like word order (syntax) and verb conjugations (morphology). Some grammar concepts, like parts of speech, can easily transfer over from other languages to Spanish. So, you don’t need to become a grammar expert to learn basic Spanish. But knowing these fundamental building blocks will prepare you to start reading and listening to Spanish with confidence.

Table of Contents

What are the parts of speech in spanish.

Think of Spanish language parts of speech like the blocks that kids use to build a house. They start with a foundation and then place block after block next to one another until they make a row. This is similar to how you construct a sentence with the different parts of speech. You have the first block (or part) of speech, the second, and so forth—but some of these parts of speech in Spanish are interchangeable and don’t follow the rules that the same parts of speech in English do.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of each part of speech in the Spanish language, we’ll give you an example that serves as an overview. Look at this sentence, which uses all of the Spanish parts of speech (the English translation is below it):

  • ¡Ay! El perro negro come el pollo rápidamente y lo devora en la cocina.  
  • Oh! The black dog quickly eats the chicken and devours it in the kitchen.

You’ll notice that the word order is slightly different from Spanish to English. Below is the first part of the sentence in building block form, with each Spanish part of speech in its own box. 

See how the sentence is like a row of building blocks? Sometimes, these blocks can be more easily rearranged in Spanish than in English, and we’ll talk about that later.

Parts of speech in Spanish chart

Using the original example sentence above, here’s a handy chart that gives an overview of the parts of speech in Spanish.

nounsindicate a person, place, or thing dog
verbsshow the action of a sentence eats
prepositionsindicate the location or duration of something or someone on
adjectivesdescribe a noun black
adverbsdescribe a verb quickly
pronounsstand in for a nouns it
conjunctionsjoin two phrases or items and
articlesclarify the nature of a noun the (masculine)the (feminine)
interjectionsexpresses surprise oh

Sustantivos (nouns)

Many of us remember the “person, place, or thing” theme from elementary school, but nouns are a lot more than that. 

They can function as the subject of a sentence—meaning the inanimate object or being doing the action:

  • La niña juega todo el día . = The girl plays all day long.

They can also act as the object of a verb, which means they are the one receiving the action. Here, the post receives the impact of the car:

  • El carro pegó al poste . = The car hit the post .

Similarly, they can be the object of a preposition:

  • El abuelo se sentó en su silla favorita. = The grandfather sat in his favorite chair .

Nouns can also be a lot more conceptual or abstract:

  • La belleza está en el ojo del observador. = Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Note: Spanish is a gendered language, which means nouns are considered masculine or feminine. These Spanish gender rules are important because noun genders also need to match their accompanying adjectives.

smiling woman talking on phone near beach

Verbos (verbs)

You probably already have an idea of how verbs commonly follow nouns from the examples above. However, talking about verbs being action words can be a little misleading. 

Sometimes there is a very active verb:

  • El volcán explotó . = The volcano erupted .

Yet, sometimes the verb is more about existence:

  • Hay un volcán en Puebla, México. = There is a volcano in Puebla, Mexico.

A verb can also have a more submissive sense:

  • Paola recibió una llamada. = Paola got a phone call.

Here, Paola is not exactly doing the action. Rather, she is on the receiving end of an action initiated by someone else. Still, Paola is the subject of the verb.

Spanish is not as strict as English when it comes to where the verb goes, thus the sentence from above can also be expressed like this: 

  • Recibió una llamada Paola. = Paola got a phone call.

Verbs get conjugated in unique ways in Spanish, with each verb form having a special ending depending on who is speaking or doing the action. A good place to start is by learning the most common Spanish verbs and their conjugations.

Preposiciones (prepositions)

Prepositions help us know where a noun is located, usually in a physical way, but they can also help us talk about the duration of things like historical periods. In other words, Spanish prepositions help us talk about space and time in reference to a noun. Here’s an example:

  • El conejo está dentro de la caja. = The rabbit is inside the box.

Prepositions can also be used metaphorically:

  • Su mente está en las nubes. = His head is in the clouds.

As we mentioned, prepositions can be used to talk about time:

  • Durante la guerra, muchas personas quedaron sin casa. = During the war, many people were left homeless.

Adjetivos (adjectives)

Adjectives describe or modify nouns by making their nature clearer. Most adjectives in Spanish are placed after the noun they describe, and they should match that noun in gender and number. 

  • un libro aburrido = a boring book
  • unos libros aburridos = some boring books

See how the plural form of a masculine noun (usually ending in “o”) has the “s” added to the noun and the adjective?

With a few exceptions, such as colors, it’s possible to place adjectives before the noun for emphasis:

  • la bella casa = the beautiful house
  • las bellas casas = the beautiful houses

Our list of 100+ adjectives and how to use them gives you more details about adjectives.

Adverbios (adverbs)

Just as adjectives modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs. They tell the reader or listener more details about the action of the sentence. 

  • La tortuga cruza la calle lentamente . = The turtle crosses the street slowly .

The most common adjectives in Spanish often end in “-mente,” the equivalent of “-ly” in English, but not all of them do! An example is adverbs of frequency like siempre (always) and nunca (never). 

Pronombres (pronouns)

We use pronouns all the time in English as a substitute for names or nouns. In Spanish, they’re optional when they serve as the subject of a sentence, but there are nine types of pronouns , most of which aren’t optional. It’s important to learn the subject pronouns in Spanish because they serve as the basis for learning the verb conjugations. 

  • ( Tú ) lees muy bien. = You read very well.

The subject pronoun is optional, but because each verb gets conjugated distinctly for what is called “point of view” ( first person, second person, third person ), we can understand the sentence even without the subject pronoun in Spanish. In this way, we can sometimes remove one of the building blocks of our sentence in Spanish, but this is not recommended if you’re building a house!

Many of the other types of pronouns are used to indicate objects in a sentence. Don’t be fooled: In grammar, objects are not necessarily things. Rather, they are the objects receiving the action.

  • Renata besó a Alfonso . = Renata kissed Alfonso .

In this example, Alfonso is on the receiving end of the verb, and he functions as the object of the sentence.

Conjunciones (conjunctions)

Conjunctions join two phrases or items in a sentence. There are three basic types of Spanish conjunctions : coordinating, correlative, and subordinating. 

Coordinating conjunctions generally unite small items or phrases of a sentence:

  • Me gustan las peras y las manzanas. = I like pears and apples.

Correlative conjunctions work in pairs:

  • No comen trigo ni carne. = They eat neither wheat nor meat.

Subordinating conjunctions are used for dependent clauses, meaning full phrases that depend on the other part of the sentence to make sense:

  • Cuando te pica un zancudo, te da comezón. = When a mosquito bites you, it makes you itch.

Artículos (articles)

As in English, there are definite articles like el (the) that describe a known thing or person such as el monumento de la ciudad (the city monument). There are also articles like un (a) that describe an unknown thing or person such as un huracán (a hurricane). When an indefinite article is plural in Spanish— unos jitomates —it’s translated as “some tomatoes.”

When it comes to definite and indefinite Spanish articles , they need to match the nouns they accompany in number and gender. Here is a useful chart to help remember them:

masculine singular
feminine plural
masculine plural
feminine plural

Interjecciones (interjections)

Interjections and exclamations are just that: They quickly and briefly interject or exclaim something in a sentence. As in English, we often use Spanish interjections to express surprise with words like vaya (well, wow), but they can also be used to show a sudden noise. For example, pum , which might be translated as “boom.”

As you can see, some of these words don’t translate directly or they have dual meanings, another reason why studying with a program and not just a dictionary is important. The subtleties of language are not always obvious from a simple internet search. In business and public situations, it’s necessary to understand that some interjections are casual and others are more acceptable in formal situations. One way to understand these differences is with Rosetta Stone’s Dynamic Immersion method , which helps you learn a language in context.

Key takeaways for parts of speech in Spanish

There’s a lot of crossover between how the parts of speech work in English and Spanish. Here are a few things to remember about the parts of speech in Spanish:

  • Parts of speech are the building blocks of sentence-making and communication in Spanish.
  • Spanish has nine basic parts of speech: sustantivos , verbos , preposiciones , adjetivos , pronombres , adverbios , conjunciones , artículos , and interjecciones .
  • Each part of speech in Spanish serves a specific purpose and may be used in different places within a sentence. 
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List of 50 Spanish adjectives for beginners

Adam Volz

How to use adjectives in Spanish

How to introduce yourself in spanish, list of spanish adjectives for everyday use, it’s time to start practicing.

Listen to useful tips from Sylvia and Iris on how to create a study plan that’ll help you learn a language effectively

Are you searching for the most common adjectives in Spanish to expand your vocabulary? You’re at the right place! Preply has prepared a great list of basic Spanish adjectives that you can start practicing right away. And don’t worry that learning these words will be time-consuming because a lot of adjectives are very similar to their English equivalents. 

Keep reading to learn more or discover  online Spanish classes  on Preply.

Spanish descriptive adjectives are words that describe, identify, express, or measure the quantity of a noun or pronoun. The words to describe someone or something in Spanish usually come after the noun they describe. For many beginners, it might be quite complicated to understand. But with a little practice, the use of adjectives after nouns will come naturally to you.

There is another rule you have to remember: Spanish adjectives change their forms to agree in gender and quantity (singular, plural) with the noun or pronoun they modify. However, there are exceptions, as some adjectives remain the same no matter what gender is used.

How to learn Spanish adjectives fast and easy

Learning Spanish on your own is not effective since nobody gives you feedback and guides you on your way to language excellence. Preply offers online lessons with native Spanish tutors from all around the world. With our teachers, you can focus on the skills you need and develop your vocabulary to communicate freely.

Want to learn more positive adjectives in Spanish ? No problem! Our experts are qualified enough to develop an individual study plan according to your level and help you learn all the rules and exceptions. Just find your perfect tutor, schedule your first video lesson , and start learning with a native Spanish speaker via the Preply Space.

How to introduce yourself in Spanish

Let’s check out this list of simple Spanish adjectives that will most definitely come in handy in your daily life. All examples are taken from SpanishDict .

  • Bueno — Good

Beber agua frecuentemente es bueno para la salud. — Drinking water frequently is good for your health.

Agosto es un mes especialmente malo para los mercados financieros. — August is an especially bad month for financial markets.

  • Grande — Big

Compré una cobija grande . — I bought a big blanket.

  • Pequeño — Small

Mi primo pequeño vive en Buenos Aires. — My little cousin lives in Buenos Aires.

  • Guapo — Beautiful/Handsome

¡Qué pololo más guapo tiene! — What a handsome boyfriend she has!

  • Feo — Ugly/Badly

Había una vez un patito feo . — Once upon a time, there was an ugly duckling.

  • Feliz — Happy

Estoy feliz porque vienen mis primos esta Navidad. — I am happy that my cousins are coming this Christmas

  • Triste — Sad

¿Qué ocurrió? ¿Por qué estás triste ? — What happened? Why are you sad ?

  • Rápido — Fast

¿Qué tan grande y rápido es el flujo? — How large and fast is the flow?

  • Lento — Slow

El subte siempre va lento y abarrotado. — The subway is always slow and crowded.

  • Alto — High/Tall

Es un hombre alto con hombros amplios. — He’s a tall man with broad shoulders.

  • Bajo — Low/Short

Mira qué bajo están volando los pájaros. — Look at how low the birds are flying.

  • Largo — Long

Me di un paseo bien largo para despejar mi mente. — I went for a very long walk to clear my mind.

  • Corto — Short

Escribió un relato corto para el concurso. — He wrote a short story for the contest.

  • Caro — Expensive

El hotel era muy caro . — The hotel was very expensive .

  • Barato — Cheap

¡Qué barato! Me gusta mucho el precio. — How cheap! I like the price a lot.

  • Fácil — Easy

Prefiero vivir la vida fácil , sin preocupaciones. — I prefer to live the easy life, without any worries.

  • Difícil — Difficult

Me resulta muy difícil recordar todas mis contraseñas. — I find it very difficult to remember all my passwords.

  • Sencillo — Simple

Su estilo es sencillo pero elegante. — Her style is simple but elegant.

  • Complicado — Complicated

Es demasiado complicado para explicar en cinco minutos. — It’s too complicated to explain in five minutes.

  • Joven — Young

¿Cuántos años tienes? ¡Te ves tan joven ! — How old are you? You look so young !

  • Viejo — Old

Mi carro está viejo . — My car is old .

  • Rico — Rich

Es todavía más rico que su tío. — He is even richer than his uncle.

  • Pobre — Poor

Se crió en el seno de una familia pobre . — She grew up in a poor family.

  • Delicioso — Delicious

Trajeron un delicioso pay de mora. — They brought a delicious raspberry pie.

  • Repugnante — Disgusting

Es un procedimiento repugnante . — It is a disgusting procedure.

  • Inteligente — Intelligent/Smart

Esa es la obra de una persona inteligente . — That is the work of an intelligent person.

  • Listo — Smart/Ready

¡Ese chico en mi clase está tan el listo ! — That boy in my class is so smart !

Estoy listo para firmar el contrato — I’m ready to sign the contract.

  • Tonto — Stupid

¡Ay, qué tonto … Soy! — Oh, how stupid I am! ‘

  • Común — Common

González es un apellido muy común en Latinoamérica. — Gonzalez is a very common surname in Latin America.

  • Raro — Rare/Strange

Lo que pasó es muy raro . — What happened is very strange .

Eso es lo bastante raro como para que merezca la pena comentarlo. — That is rare enough to be worthy of note.

  • Nuevo — New

Es una tecnología totalmente nueva . — It’s a completely new technology.

  • Útil — Useful

Es una herramienta útil — It’s a useful tool.

  • Importante — Important

Las redes sociales también desempeñaron un papel importante . — Social networks also played an important role.

  • Fuerte — Strong

¡Mi papá es el hombre más fuerte del mundo! — My dad is the strongest man in the world!

  • Débil — Weak

No seas tan débil . — Don’t be so weak .

  • Abierto — Open

No dejes el refrigerador abierto . — Don’t leave the refrigerator open .

  • Cerrado — Closed

Perdona, pero la cocina está cerrada . — Sorry, but the kitchen is closed .

  • Vacío — Empty

El bote de champú en la ducha está casi vacío . — The bottle of shampoo in the shower is almost empty .

  • Lleno — Full

Mi jardín está lleno de rosales de diferentes colores. — My garden is full of roses of different color s.

  • Despierto — Awake

El bebé me tuvo despierta toda la noche. — The baby kept me awake the whole night.

  • Cansado — Tired

Estaba tan cansada que me acosté sin cenar. — I was so tired that I went straight to bed without dinner.

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  • Limpio — Clean

Su piso siempre está bien limpio . — Their flat is always really clean .

  • Sucio — Dirty

Disculpe pero mi tenedor está sucio . — Excuse me, but my fork is dirty .

  • Enfermo — Sick

Te ves enfermo . ¿Estás comiendo bien? — You look sick . Are you eating right?

  • Sano — Healthy

Vivimos una vida muy sana . — We live a very healthy life.

  • Negro — Black

Tu traje negro es propio para la ocasión. — Your black suit is appropriate for the occasion.

  • Blanco — White

¡Tengo el mismo suéter en blanco ! — I have the same sweater in white !

El cielo se tornó rojo al atardecer. — The sky turned red at sundown.

  • Azul — Blue

Tengo ojos azules — I have blue eyes.

Now that you have this great list of common Spanish adjectives, it’s time to put your knowledge to good use. The most effective way to practice a foreign language is to communicate with natives . Here at Preply, you’ll find many online lessons with native Spanish tutors with years of teaching experience under their belt. Studying online with a proven expert is easy, quick, and cost-effective. Give it a try!

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Adam Volz

Adam is a content marketing specialist with a passion for language. He's originally from Birmingham, England but now lives in Barcelona. He is currently learning Spanish on Preply with his tutor, Jordi.

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26 Types of Punctuation Marks & Typographical Symbols

  • What Is Punctuation?
  • What Is A Typographical Symbol?
  • Punctuation Vs. Typographical Symbols
  • Types Of Punctuation And Symbols
  • Try Grammar Coach

We use words in writing. Shocking, I know! Do you know what else we use in writing? Here is a hint: they have already appeared in this paragraph. In addition to words, we use many different symbols and characters to organize our thoughts and make text easier to read. All of these symbols come in two major categories: punctuation marks and typographical symbols . These symbols have many different uses and include everything from the humble period ( . ) to the rarely used caret symbol ( ^ ). There may even be a few symbols out there that you’ve never even heard of before that leave you scratching your head when you see them on your keyboard!

What is punctuation ?

Punctuation is the act or system of using specific marks or symbols in writing to separate different elements from each other or to make writing more clear. Punctuation is used in English and the other languages that use the Latin alphabet. Many other writing systems also use punctuation, too. Thanks to punctuation, we don’t have to suffer through a block of text that looks like this:

  • My favorite color is red do you like red red is great my sister likes green she always says green is the color of champions regardless of which color is better we both agree that no one likes salmon which is a fish and not a color seriously

Punctuation examples

The following sentences give examples of the many different punctuation marks that we use:

  • My dog , Bark Scruffalo , was featured in a superhero movie . 
  • If there ’ s something strange in your neighborhood , who are you going to call ?
  • A wise man once said , “ Within the body of every person lies a skeleton .”
  • Hooray ! I found everything on the map : the lake , the mountain , and the forest . 
  • I told Ashley ( if that was her real name ) that I needed the copy lickety-split .

What is a typographical symbol ?

The term typographical symbol , or any other number of phrases, refers to a character or symbol that isn’t considered to be a punctuation mark but may still be used in writing for various purposes. Typographical symbols are generally avoided in formal writing under most circumstances. However, you may see typographic symbols used quite a bit in informal writing.

Typographical symbol examples

The following examples show some ways that a writer might use typographical symbols. Keep in mind that some of these sentences may not be considered appropriate in formal writing.

  • The frustrated actor said she was tired of her co-star’s “annoying bull **** .”
  • For questions, email us at anascabana @ bananacabanas.fake!
  • The band had five # 1 singles on the American music charts during the 1990s.
  • My internet provider is AT & T.

⚡️ Punctuation vs. typographical symbols

Punctuation marks are considered part of grammar and often have well-established rules for how to use them properly. For example, the rules of proper grammar state that a letter after a period should be capitalized and that a comma must be used before a coordinating conjunction.

Typographical symbols, on the other hand, may not have widely accepted rules for how, or even when, they should be used. Generally speaking, most grammar resources will only allow the use of typographical symbols under very specific circumstances and will otherwise advise a writer to avoid using them.

Types of punctuation and symbols

There are many different types of punctuation marks and typographical symbols. We’ll briefly touch on them now, but you can learn more about these characters by checking out the links in this list and also each section below:

  • Question mark
  • Exclamation point
  • Parentheses
  • Square brackets
  • Curly brackets
  • Angle brackets
  • Quotation marks
  • Bullet point
  • Pound symbol
  • Caret symbol
  • Pipe symbol

Period, question mark, and exclamation point

These three commonly used punctuation marks are used for the same reason: to end an independent thought.

A period is used to end a declarative sentence . A period indicates that a sentence is finished.

  • Today is Friday .

Unique to them, periods are also often used in abbreviations.

  • Prof . Dumbledore once again awarded a ludicrous amount of points to Gryffindor.

Question mark (?)

The question mark is used to end a question, also known as an interrogative sentence .

  • Do you feel lucky ?

Exclamation point (!)

The exclamation point is used at the end of exclamations and interjections .

  • Our house is haunted ! 

Comma, colon, and semicolon

Commas, colons, and semicolons can all be used to connect sentences together.

The comma is often the punctuation mark that gives writers the most problems. It has many different uses and often requires good knowledge of grammar to avoid making mistakes when using it. Some common uses of the comma include:

  • Joining clauses: Mario loves Peach , and she loves him . 
  • Nonrestrictive elements: My favorite team , the Fighting Mongooses , won the championship this year.
  • Lists: The flag was red , white , and blue.
  • Coordinate adjectives: The cute , happy puppy licked my hand.

Try out this quiz on the Oxford comma!

The colon is typically used to introduce additional information.

  • The detective had three suspects : the salesman, the gardener, and the lawyer.

Like commas, colons can also connect clauses together.

  • We forgot to ask the most important question : who was buying lunch?

Colons have a few other uses, too.

  • The meeting starts at 8:15 p.m.
  • The priest started reading from Mark 3:6 .

Semicolon (;)

Like the comma and the colon, the semicolon is used to connect sentences together. The semicolon typically indicates that the second sentence is closely related to the one before it.

  • I can’t eat peanuts ; I am highly allergic to them.
  • Lucy loves to eat all kinds of sweets ; lollipops are her favorite.

Hyphen and dashes (en dash and em dash)

All three of these punctuation marks are often referred to as “dashes.” However, they are all used for entirely different reasons.

The hyphen is used to form compound words.

  • I went to lunch with my father-in-law .
  • She was playing with a jack-in-the-box .
  • He was accused of having pro-British sympathies.

En dash (–)

The en dash is used to express ranges or is sometimes used in more complex compound words.

  • The homework exercises are on pages 20–27 .
  • The songwriter had worked on many Tony Award–winning productions.

Em dash (—)

The em dash is used to indicate a pause or interrupted speech.

  • The thief was someone nobody expected —me !
  • “Those kids will— ” was all he managed to say before he was hit by a water balloon.

Test your knowledge on the different dashes here.

Parentheses, brackets, and braces

These pairs of punctuation marks look similar, but they all have different uses. In general, the parentheses are much more commonly used than the others.

Parentheses ()

Typically, parentheses are used to add additional information.

  • I thought (for a very long time) if I should actually give an honest answer.
  • Tomorrow is Christmas (my favorite holiday) !

Parentheses have a variety of other uses, too.

  • Pollution increased significantly. (See Chart 14B)
  • He was at an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting.
  • Richard I of England (1157–1199) had the heart of a lion.

Square brackets []

Typically, square brackets  are used to clarify or add information to quotations.

  • According to an eyewitness, the chimpanzees “climbed on the roof and juggled [bananas] .”
  • The judge said that “the defense attorney [Mr. Wright] had made it clear that the case was far from closed.”

Curly brackets {}

Curly brackets , also known as braces , are rarely used punctuation marks that are used to group a set.

  • I was impressed by the many different colors {red, green, yellow, blue, purple, black, white} they selected for the flag’s design.

Angle brackets <>

Angle brackets have no usage in formal writing and are rarely ever used even in informal writing. These characters have more uses in other fields, such as math or computing.

Quotation marks and apostrophe

You’ll find these punctuation marks hanging out at the top of a line of text.

Quotation marks (“”)

The most common use of quotation marks is to contain quotations.

  • She said, “ Don’t let the dog out of the house. ”
  • Bob Ross liked to put “ happy little trees ” in many of his paintings.

Apostrophe (‘)

The apostrophe is most often used to form possessives and contractions.

  • The house ’ s back door is open.
  • My cousin ’ s birthday is next week.
  • It isn ’ t ready yet.
  • We should ’ ve stayed outside.

Slash and ellipses

These are two punctuation marks you may not see too often, but they are still useful.

The slash has several different uses. Here are some examples:

  • Relationships: The existence of boxer briefs somehow hasn’t ended the boxers/briefs debate.
  • Alternatives: They accept cash and/or credit.
  • Fractions: After an hour, 2/3 of the audience had already left.

Ellipses (…)

In formal writing, ellipses are used to indicate that words were removed from a quote.

  • The mayor said, “The damages will be … paid for by the city … as soon as possible.”

In informal writing, ellipses are often used to indicate pauses or speech that trails off.

  • He nervously stammered and said, “Look, I … You see … I wasn’t … Forget it, okay.”

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Typographical symbols

Typographical symbols rarely appear in formal writing. You are much more likely to see them used for a variety of reasons in informal writing.

Asterisk (*)

In formal writing, especially academic and scientific writing, the asterisk is used to indicate a footnote.

  • Chocolate is the preferred flavor of ice cream.* * According to survey data from the Ice Cream Data Center.

The asterisk may also be used to direct a reader toward a clarification or may be used to censor inappropriate words or phrases.

Ampersand (&)

The ampersand substitutes for the word and . Besides its use in the official names of things, the ampersand is typically avoided in formal writing.

  •  The band gave a speech at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame .

Bullet Point (•)

Bullet points are used to create lists. For example,

For this recipe you will need:

  • baking powder

Pound symbol (#)

Informally, the pound symbol is typically used to mean number or is used in social media hashtags.

  • The catchy pop song reached #1 on the charts.
  • Ready 4 Halloween 2morrow!!! #spooky #TrickorTreat

Besides being used as an accent mark in Spanish and Portuguese words, the tilde is rarely used. Informally, a person may use it to mean “about” or “approximately.”

  • We visited São Paulo during our vacation.
  • I think my dog weighs ~20 pounds.

Backslash (\)

The backslash is primarily used in computer programming and coding. It might be used online and in texting to draw emoticons , but it has no other common uses in writing. Be careful not to mix it up with the similar forward slash (/), which is a punctuation mark.

At symbol (@)

The at symbol substitutes for the word at in informal writing. In formal writing, it is used when writing email addresses.

Caret symbol (^)

The caret symbol is used in proofreading, but may be used to indicate an exponent if a writer is unable to use superscript .

  • Do you know what 3 ^ 4 (3 to the power of 4) is equal to?

Pipe symbol (|)

The pipe symbol is not used in writing. Instead, it has a variety of functions in the fields of math, physics, or computing.

How much do you know about verbs? Learn about them here.

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