Forming Spanish Questions with “¿Qué?” and “¿Cuánto?”

By Gail Stein

Spanish question words like ¿cuánto? and ¿qué? help you ask questions when you need to know how many or which of something to use. The following sections give you a crash course in using these helpful Spanish words when “yes” and “no” questions just won’t cut it.

Counting and measuring with “¿cuánto?”

You use the question word ¿cuánto? (kooahn-toh) (how much?/how many?) before a noun when that noun may be counted or measured. ¿Cuánto? varies and must agree in number and gender with the noun it describes.

Number- and Gender-Specific Forms of ¿Cuánto?
Masculine Feminine
Singular ¿cuánto? ¿cuánta?
Plural ¿cuántos? ¿cuántas?

Here are some examples of ¿cuánto? in use:

  • ¿Cuánto dinero necesitas? (How much money do you need?)

  • ¿Cuántos dólares ganan por hora? (How many dollars do they earn per hour?)

  • ¿Cuánta moneda tiene Ud? (How much change [How many coins] do you have?)

  • ¿Cuántas horas trabajan? (How many hours do they work?)

Selecting which with “¿qué?”

The question word ¿qué? (keh) (what?/which?), on the other hand, doesn’t change with number or gender and refers to a noun that isn’t being counted. For example:

  • ¿Qué idiomas sabes hablar? (What [Which] languages do you know how to speak?)

  • ¿Qué bolígrafo quieren usar? (Which [what] pen do they want to use?)

Using prepositions with “¿cuánto” and “¿qué?”

    You may use a preposition before both ¿cuánto? and ¿qué? when doing so is logical:

  • ¿A qué hora sale el tren? (At what time does the train leave?)

  • ¿Con cuánta frecuencia vas al cine? ([With how much frequency] How often do you go to the movies?)

  • ¿De cuántos hombres hablan? (How many men are you speaking about?)