The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols

A Range of Marks from the Period ('Point') to the At Sign ('Arobase')

Question marks and other common French punctuation
Question marks and other common French punctuation. Alice Day /EyeEm/Getty Images

Here is a quick reference guide to the names of the most common French symbols and punctuation marks. Note that although French and English use nearly all of the same punctuation marks, some of their uses vary considerably in the two languages. Some English-language marks, such as quotation marks ("), do not exist at all in French, which uses guillemets («  ») instead.

Spacing can also vary, notably the space that precedes every semicolon, colon, exclamation point, and question mark and the spaces that surround marks of two or more parts: all quotation marks and every percent sign, dollar sign, number sign, equal sign, en dash, and em dash, as in:

Comment vas-tu ? Ah, salut Pierre ! Paul — mon meilleur ami — va arriver demain. Jean a dit : « Je veux le faire. » 

A note about numbers: Numbers of five digits or more, for example 1,000 and 1,000,000, are written with periods in French, not with commas. So the French version would be 1.000 and 1.000.000 or just a space in place of any punctuation mark (1 000). Decimals, on the other hand, are written with commas in French and not points, as in 1,5 (not 1.5) and 38,92 (not 38.92). So this kind of construction is correct: Our company sold 81,9 percent of the dresses. We had ordered 5.343, which means we had sold about 4.400 dresses.

Common French Punctuation Marks and Symbols

.un pointperiod, full stop, dot
,une virgulecomma
:les deux points, un deux-pointscolon
;un point-virgulesemicolon
'une apostropheapostrophe
!un point d'exclamationexclamation point
?un point d'interrogationquestion mark
...les points de suspensionellipsis
-un trait d'uniondash, hypen

un tiret

em dash
N-tireuren dash
_un underscore, un souligné, un tiret basunderscore
°un symbole du degrédegree sign
«  »guillemets (m)quotation marks, inverted commas " "
(  )parenthèses (f)parentheses
[  ]crochets (droits) (m)(square) brackets
{  }accolades (f)curly brackets, braces
<  >crochets fléchés (m), crochets pointus (m)angle brackets
 En, entre guillemetsparenthèses, etc. > In quotes, parentheses, etc.
Ouvrirfermer les guillemetsles parenthèses, etc. > Open, close quotes, parentheses, etc.
&une esperluette, un "et commercial," un "et anglais"ampersand
*un astérisqueasterisk
#un dièse (Fr), un carré (Can)pound sign, number sign
 The correct French term is actually croisillon, but the French erroneously say dièse.
$un signe du dollar, un dollardollar sign
£un symbole livrepound sign
%un signe de pour-cent, un pour-centpercent sign
+le signe plusplus sign
-le moinsminus sign
=un signe égalequal sign
<un signe inférieurless-than sign
>un signe supérieurgreater-than sign
|une barre verticale, un tubepipe
/une barre oblique, un trait oblique, un slashforward slash
\une barre oblique inverse, un anti-slashbackslash
@une arobase, une arrobase, un a commercialat sign > je underscore suis arobas mon trait d'union adresse point fr
wwwwwwtrois w, or oui oui oui (teen talk)www 
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Your Citation
Lawless, Laura K. "The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols." ThoughtCo, Aug. 18, 2017, Lawless, Laura K. (2017, August 18). The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols. Retrieved from Lawless, Laura K. "The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 19, 2018).