Friday, December 22, 2006

Use of exclamation mark to highlight single word

In English, at least in informal writing, we will often highlight a particular word by putting an exclamation mark (point) after the word, but in brackets (parentheses).

For example:
"She asked me(!) if I could fix her car".
(i.e. "me of all people who knows nothing about cars...").

Is this possible in Spanish, and if so, would I write it like this?

Muchas gracias,

- Montmorency

Dear Montmorency,

According to the RAE's Diccionario panhispánico de dudas[1], that is exactly how it should be used in Spanish too.

However, you might like to consider other alternatives, like writing the word in capital letters (e.g. She asked ME if I could fix her car). You see, even if it's correct, it's not common.

I, for instance, would add an explanation in parentheses like this:
Ella me preguntó (¡a mí!) si podía arreglar su carro.

In Spanish, it's not necessary to say a mí, because me preguntó already implies it. But this way, it's highlighting what is obvious.


- Karin

1 "Los signos de cierre escritos entre paréntesis se utilizan para expresar duda (los de interrogación) o sorpresa (los de exclamación), no exentas, en la mayoría de los casos, de ironía: Tendría gracia (?) que hubiera perdido las llaves; Ha terminado los estudios con treinta años y está tan orgulloso (!)." - Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas

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