Upside Down Question Mark (¿): Usage & Typing Methods

upside down question mark

Upside down question mark (¿), a punctuation mark rarely seen by English speakers and writers, has piqued curiosity regarding its existence and purpose. This article will provide a closer examination of the upside-down symbol, exploring its origins, usage, and distinctions from the standard question mark (?).

What is the Upside Down Question Mark?

The upside-down symbol is a punctuation mark utilized in written Spanish to indicate the beginning of a question. While similar to the English question mark, it features a distinct orientation, with the dot positioned at the bottom, giving it an inverted appearance.

Origins of the Upside Down Question Mark

The use of reversed marks, including the upside down question mark, was firstly recommended by the Real Academia Española( Royal Spanish Academy) in the alternate edition of the Ortografía de la lengua castellana( Orthography of the Castilian language) published in 1754.

The Royal Spanish Academy proposed this symbol as a way to indicate the morning of a question in written Spanish. For illustration,” ¿ Cuántos años tienes?”(” How old are you?”). also, the same reversed- symbol system was specified for exclamatory statements, using the symbols” ¡” and”!”. still, the relinquishment of these new rules was gradational, and there are 19th- century books in which neither” ¡” nor” ¿” were used by the pens, indicating a lack of wide acceptance at the time.

Outside of the Spanish- speaking world, as beforehand as 1668, John Wilkins proposed using the reversed interjection mark” ¡” as a symbol placed at the end of a judgment to denote irony. Wilkins was one of several individualities, including Desiderius Erasmus, who honored the need for such a punctuation mark. still, Wilkins’ offer, like others before it, failed to gain significant traction and didn’t come extensively espoused. thus, the reversed marks, including the upside-down question mark, set up their primary operation and recognition within the Spanish language and its written tradition, particularly as recommended by the Royal Spanish Academy.

Usage and Typing Methods

The upside down question mark, also known as the inverted question mark (¿), plays a crucial role in Spanish grammar and sentence structure. Although its usage may appear peculiar to the unacquainted, it is an essential component of Spanish writing. This article will delve into the character’s usage, historical significance, adoption in different languages, computer usage, encodings, and typing methods.

Platform Shortcut
Windows Alt + 0191
Linux Alt + 0191
MS Word Symbol > Upside-down mark
MacOS Option + Shift + ?
Android Third-party keyboard app
iPhone Control + Command + Space
LaTeX \textquestiondown

To type the upside down question mark, various methods can be employed depending on the platform or software being used. On Windows, the Alt code is Alt + 0191, while on Linux, it is also Alt + 0191. In Microsoft Word, the symbol can be accessed through the Symbols menu. On MacOS, the shortcut is Option + Shift + ?, and on LaTeX, it is \textquestiondown. HTML allows the usage of the character entity reference ¿ or the decimal entity reference ¿.

Significance of the Upside-Down Question Mark

The upside-down question mark serves a critical role in Spanish writing, indicating that a sentence or phrase is a question. In Spanish, it is essential to denote the start of a question to help readers grasp the intended meaning of the text. By using the inverted question mark at the sentence’s beginning, writers can alert readers to an impending question. This, in turn, helps readers avoid confusion and understand the context of the sentence.

It is important to note that both the regular question mark and the upside-down question mark are used in Spanish. The upside-down symbol appears at the beginning of a sentence, while the regular question mark is placed at the end. This dual usage of question marks is one of the key differences between Spanish and English punctuation.

History, Adoption, and Computer Usage

While the precise origin of the upside down question mark remains uncertain, it is believed to have emerged in the 16th century. Initially used to indicate rhetorical questions in written Spanish, its usage gradually expanded to encompass all types of questions.

upside down question mark

The upside-down question mark is primarily utilized in Spanish language writing, but it is also employed in other languages such as Galician and Waray-Waray, serving the same function as in Spanish—to indicate the beginning of a question.

When typing in Spanish on computers or digital devices, knowledge of how to access the upside-down mark is crucial. The character is included in several standard character encodings, including Unicode, ISO-88591, and Windows-1252, allowing its use in various digital contexts such as websites, emails, and text messages.

Methods to Type the Upside-Down Question Mark

To type the upside-down question mark, there are several methods you can use depending on your computer or software:

Method 1: Alt Code

  • Place your cursor where you want to type the symbol.
  • Make sure NumLock is enabled on your keyboard.
  • Press and hold the Alt key.
  • While holding Alt, enter the code for the upside-down question mark using the numeric keypad: 0191.
  • Release the Alt key, and the symbol will appear.

Method 2: Microsoft Word

  • Position your cursor where you want to insert the symbol.
  • Press the following keys in sequence: Ctrl + Alt + Shift + / (Press Ctrl + Alt before Shift).
  • The upside-down question mark will be inserted at the cursor’s location.

Upside Down Question Mark

Method 3: International Keyboard Layout

  • Configure your computer to use the US-International keyboard layout.
  • Press and hold the Alt-Gr key (right Alt key) on your keyboard.
  • While holding Alt-Gr, press the forward slash (/) key.
  • The upside-down question mark will be inserted.

Method 4: ASCII Codes

  • Open the application or software where you want to insert the symbol.
  • Make sure Num Lock is turned on.
  • Using the numeric keypad, type the ASCII code for the upside-down question mark: 0191.
  • The symbol will be displayed.

Method 5: Symbols Menu in Word

  • Open Microsoft Word.
  • Go to the “Insert” tab in the menu.
  • Click on “Symbols” and choose “More Symbols.”
  • In the Symbols dialog box, select the upside-down question mark (¿).
  • Click “Insert” and then close the dialog box.
  • The symbol will be inserted at the cursor’s position.
  • You can copy the symbol and paste it into other applications using Ctrl + V.

Method 6: upside down question mark on macbook

To type an upside down question mark on a MacBook, follow these steps:

  • Press and hold the “Option” key on your keyboard.
  • While holding the “Option” key, press the “?” key.
  • Release both keys. The upside-down question mark (¿) should appear on your screen.


In this article, we have explored the Upside Down Question Mark (¿), a punctuation mark that is essential in Spanish language writing. It serves the same function as the regular question mark in English but with a different orientation. Understanding how to use and type the upside-down question mark is crucial for effective communication in Spanish.

We have discussed the origins of the symbol, its historical significance, and theories about its creation. Additionally, we have examined its usage in Spanish grammar and sentence structure, emphasizing its role in indicating the beginning of a question.

Furthermore, we have provided various methods for typing the upside-down question mark on different platforms and software, ensuring that writers can incorporate this important punctuation mark accurately.

By mastering the usage and typing of the upside-down question mark, writers can effectively convey meaning and clarity in their Spanish language writing. Embracing the uniqueness of this punctuation symbol enriches the language and facilitates effective communication.

We hope this article has been informative and helpful in understanding the Upside Down Question Mark and its significance in Spanish language writing. If you have any further questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment.



What is an upside down question mark (¿)? 

-> The upside-down question mark (¿) is a punctuation symbol used in some languages, such as Spanish, to indicate the beginning of an interrogative sentence. It is placed at the beginning of a question to alert the reader that the following sentence is a question.

How is the upside down question mark used?

-> In Spanish, the upside-down question mark is used both at the beginning and end of a question to denote the start and end of an interrogative sentence. It serves as a visual cue to indicate that a question is being asked.

Why is the upside down question mark used? 

-> The upside-down question mark is used to improve clarity and comprehension in written language. By placing the symbol at the beginning of a question, it prepares the reader to interpret the sentence as a question from the very start.

Are upside down question mark used in English? 

-> No, the upside-down question mark is not used in English. English language uses a standard question mark (?) placed at the end of a question.

How do I type an upside-down question mark? 

-> The specific method to type an upside-down question mark depends on the device and operating system you are using. In most cases, you can use the Alt code or Unicode characters to insert an upside-down question mark into your text. Alternatively, you can use the character map tool on your computer to find and insert the symbol.

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