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 point period, full stop, dot
, une virgule comma
: les deux points, un deux-points colon
; un point-virgule semicolon
' une apostrophe apostrophe
! un point d'exclamation exclamation point
? un point d'interrogation question mark
... les points de suspension ellipsis
- un trait d'union dash, hypen

un tiret

em dash
N-tireur en dash
_ un underscore, un souligné, un tiret bas underscore
° un symbole du degré degree 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
& une esperluette, un "et commercial," un "et anglais" ampersand
* un astérisque asterisk
# un dièse* (Fr), un carré (Can) pound sign, number sign
$ un signe du dollar, un dollar dollar sign
£ un symbole livre pound sign
% un signe de pour-cent, un pour-cent percent sign
+ le signe plus plus sign
- le moins minus sign
= un signe égal equal sign
< un signe inférieur less-than sign
> un signe supérieur greater-than sign
| une barre verticale, un tube pipe
/ une barre oblique, un trait oblique, un slash forward slash
\ une barre oblique inverse, un anti-slash backslash
@ une arobase**, une arrobase, un a commercial at sign
www www, trois w, or oui oui oui (teen talk) www

*The correct French term is actually croisillon, but the French erroneously say dièse.

** > je underscore suis arobas mon trait d'union adresse point fr

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Team, ThoughtCo. "The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2021, Team, ThoughtCo. (2021, December 6). The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "The Names for French Punctuation Marks and Symbols." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).