I have a short article, the title is

What time is it now?

Can I just write

Qué hora es ahora?

Or must I write this?

¿Qué hora es ahora?

  • 1
    BTW the title should just be ¿Qué hora es?
    – DGaleano
    Mar 5 '19 at 19:35

Yes. There are no exceptions to the use of the question marks in Spanish. Questions always start with an upside-down question mark (or better called opening question mark) . It is the very first rule.

Son signos dobles, pues existe un signo de apertura y otro de cierre, que deben colocarse de forma obligatoria al comienzo y al final del enunciado correspondiente

Los signos de apertura (¿ ¡) son característicos del español y no deben suprimirse por imitación de otras lenguas en las que únicamente se coloca el signo de cierre:

  • Qué hora es?

  • Qué alegría verte!

Lo correcto es

  • ¿Qué hora es?

  • ¡Qué alegría verte!

As an aside: in Windows, you can type this symbols by keeping the Alt key pressed, while typing the following codes on the numeric keypad (normal number keys above the letter keys won't work):

  • Alt + 168: ¿
  • Alt + 173: ¡

There are a number of ways to type those same codes in Linux.

  • OK. I think I have to do it. It really feel weird. My keyboard does not have this ? upside down. I have to copy it.
    – Tony
    Jul 14 '17 at 2:26
  • 3
    @Tony If you are using a computer, you can type Alt-168 to write this symbol (this is: keep the Alt key pressed and type 1 6 8 on the numeric keyboard).
    – Gorpik
    Jul 14 '17 at 6:42
  • Nota que bajo regla 3.a y 3.d, a veces es posible usar solo una marca, pero no corresponden al ejemplo. Jul 14 '17 at 11:01
  • @Tony You can install the International Keyboard for accent marks.
    – Lambie
    Jan 15 at 20:55

English speakers generally know that the sentence they are beginning to read is a question, because they have a grammatical form that presents it. For example, here, in the title of your article:

Do I have to use upside down question marks (¿) in a article title ?

In contrast, Spanish speakers recognize the questions only by the intonation of the spoken phrase. We do not have a grammatical indicator to show that we are reading a question.

Therefore, in Spanish we need an orthographic mark that indicates the beginning of the question. If we do not put that mark (and the sentence is relatively long) we understand that it is a question only when finished reading, which implies to stop reading and reinterpret its meaning.

This is important in all written language, including titles, as it allows us to distinguish what kind of sentence is being communicated: a statement, a question, a statement followed by a question, etc.

  • 3
    That's interesting. In Russian, we also lack the "do-fronting" that would alert the reader from the start that the sentence is a question. A lot of question sentences in Russian differ from statements byintonation only. However, we do not have the inverted question sign in our language. Jul 14 '17 at 14:11
  • @CopperKettle ditto Italian
    – LangeHaare
    Oct 5 '17 at 17:31
  • do, does, has, have, had, is. was, were, am, did There is no logical link re all that and the Spanish. French only has the ending question mark.
    – Lambie
    Jan 15 at 20:56

The name of the symbol is opening question mark; Not upside down question mark.

I disagree with following answer

"In contrast, Spanish speakers recognize the questions only by the intonation of the spoken phrase. We do not have a grammatical indicator to show that we are reading a question."

Since in English the structure of a sentence is different, you know it is a question. In Spanish the same sentence can be a question or an affirmation.

Question: ¿Se fue?.
Affirmation: Se fue.

So yes, we need to use the opening question mark.

  • 1
    Bienvenido a Spanish Language. Te recomiendo visitar las secciones de tour y help center para entender un poco mejor la filosofía de este sitio. Procura responder realmente a la pregunta. Vota para respaldar una pregunta existente o deja un comentario para un apunte breve. Crea una respuesta nueva si va a ser significativamente distinta a las ya existentes en algún sentido (de lo contrario es redundante). Tal como está ahora, esta publicación parece más un comentario a la respuesta aceptada y sobre otras aportaciones. Dale al edit y añade algo de contenido propio.
    – Diego
    Mar 5 '19 at 19:51

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