Exclamations in Spanish

Spanish Grammar Lesson

Exclamaciones en español.

To give emphasis to what we are saying, in Spanish as in English we use exclamations. These are forceful expressions that are written in a specific way to define them as exclamations. The principal difference between exclamations in Spanish and in English is that in Spanish the exclamation is surrounded by two symbols: "¡" and "!". For example "¡Qué bueno!" (good!)

Another difference is that when the sentence starts with other words, the exclamation marks are put only around the part of the sentence that is emphasized. For example: "Maria, ¡me gusta tus zapatos!!

But if the other words come after the exclamation then they are included within the exlamation marks. For example: "¡Me gusta tus zapatos, Maria!"

Here is a list of the most common exclamatory words that are used:

Word Example use
Qué "¡Qué bonito vestido! - What a pretty dress!
Cómo "¡Cómo llueve hoy! - How it rains today!
Cuánto "¡Cuanto dinero has gastado! - How much money you have spent!

Note that "Cuánto" has to agree with the noun it identifies - Cuánto, Cuánta, Cuántos, or Cuántas.

Note also that for exclamations the above always use the accent mark (el tilde).

In addition to the above there are a number of commonly used words that can have exclamation marks around them:

¡Vaya! ¡Por Dios! ¡Chuta! ¡Dios Mio! ¡Maldición!
¡Caramba! ¡Rayos! ¡Ay! ¡Ayuda! ¡Híjole!
¡Madre Mía! ¡Cielos! ¡Cielo Santo! ¡Guau! ¡Miercoles!

The important thing to remember is to always use the exclamation marks as a pair, with one at the start of the exclamation and the other at the end. Here are some more examples:

"¡Cielos, olvidé ir al banco! Heavens, I forgot to go to the bank!
No vamos a alcanzar el bus, ¡dios mío! My god, we are not going to make the bus!
¡Qué tan grandes son estas manzanas! How big are those apples!
El boleto es caro, ¡hijole! Jeez, the ticket is expensive!
¡Cuántas veces te he dicho eso! How many times have I told you that!

It is acceptable to put up to three sets of exclamation marks in Spanish to give added emphasis. For example: ¡¡¡Hemos perdido todo!!! - We have lost everything!

And finally, it is also acceptable to combine question marks with exclamation marks to create an emphatic question: "¡¿Él dice qué?!" - He says what? - In this case you must open and close with the same question or exclamation marks.




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