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, 2019 at 19:35

5 Answers 5


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: ¡

On Mac, these can be typed with the Option key:

  • Option + 1: ¡
  • Option + Shift + ?: ¿

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

  • 1
    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, 2017 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, 2017 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, 2017 at 11:01
  • 1
    @Tony You can install the International Keyboard for accent marks.
    – Lambie
    Jan 15, 2022 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.

  • 4
    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, 2017 at 14:11
  • 1
    @CopperKettle ditto Italian
    – LangeHaare
    Oct 5, 2017 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, 2022 at 20:56

The short answer is yes.
The long answer is yes, of course.


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, 2019 at 19:51
  • Questions also have a different intonation when speaking, so the opening question mark serves this purpose: you know where to start an interrogation-intoned sentence when reading out loud
    – hlecuanda
    Aug 20, 2022 at 17:40

Let me give you an honest answer as a native speaker on both languages.

Yes... Sometimes.

Though it is grammatically incorrect to ask a question in Spanish using only the closing question point (?) it is common to only use one.

We can relate back to that with something that is nowadays almost universal for languages using the Latin alphabet: the period at the end of sentences. Do you usually end every single phrase you write in English with a period? While the answer may be yes for some people, for a lot other it is 'no'; and even for a lot of people with very good grammar and spelling that is the case.

Coming back to Spanish, the same thing happens. Not all of us use a period at the end of all sentences all the time, nor do we use both exclamation points for questions. It's what's called a linguistic quirk (vicios del lenguaje), and I believe (I really can't 100% confirm this) it actually derived from English.

So, the same way some phrases are grammatically correct but they sound too textbook, using both question points can sound too textbook depending on the context, and may sound unnatural. Knowing when to use both and when to use one is a very blurry area, but (mostly) you should use both on formal settings and only the closing one on colloquial settings. (it is up to you to always use both, anyway)

Long answer I know, but I wanted to be thourough.

  • Can you provide evidence that it is common to omit the opening question mark? I do not remember seeing it.
    – mdewey
    Aug 20, 2022 at 13:08
  • I don't agree. The question is specifically asking if it is necessary to open question marks ON AN ARTICLE TITLE, which if I'm not mistaken, impies an academic context. You don't want to have your paper/article rejected on poor grammar in the title. Also, the only place where it is acceptable not to use the opening question or exclamation marks is in a Trademark ther includes the single mark such as Fabuloso! (A cleaning product from P&G) even in informal communications such as text and instant messages there is no excuse not to the marks as intended. Perhaps in the 90s it could be excused
    – hlecuanda
    Aug 20, 2022 at 17:33
  • Of course you'll always get these kinda comments from prescriptivists, but it's important to remember that language is made by the speakers, not by the RAE (Royal Academy of Spanish) Therefore, even if there are grammar rules in play here, in a lot of cases you wouldn't use both of them (as explained above). I also pointed out that using both exclamation points is the right way, I never said it was wrong, just formal. For evidence you can literally take a look at any WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter convo, where you will notice a lot of good grammar and still no ¿ 🤷‍♀️ Oct 8, 2022 at 22:28

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