How to Use Spanish Interrogative Pronouns - dummies

How to Use Spanish Interrogative Pronouns

By Gail Stein

The famous “five Ws” (who, what, when, where, why) are all considered interrogative pronouns because they’re pronouns used to ask a question. Their Spanish equivalents may not have a cute mnemonic device, but these interrogative pronouns are just as useful in asking questions.

The following table shows the Spanish translations of English interrogative pronouns.

Interrogative Pronouns
English Pronoun Spanish Interrogative Pronoun
Who? ¿quién(es)?
What? (Which one[s]?) ¿cuál(es)?
What? ¿qué?
How much? ¿cuánto?
How many? ¿cuántos(as)?

Following are the characteristics of Spanish interrogative pronouns:

  • ¿Quién(es)? and ¿cuál(es)? change to agree in number only with the noun they replace.

    • ¿Quién llega? or ¿Quiénes llegan? (Who is arriving?)

    • Raquel llega. (Raquel is arriving.)

    • Raquel y Domingo llegan. (Raquel and Domingo are arriving.)

  • ¿Cuál? means what or which (one/s) and asks about a choice or selection.

    • ¿Cuál es tu número de teléfono? (What is your phone number?)

    • ¿Cuál de los dos es el mejor? (Which [one] of the two is better?)

  • ¿Qué? means what when it precedes a verb and asks about a definition, description, or explanation. When ¿qué? precedes a noun, it expresses which.

    • ¿Qué hacen durante el verano? (What are they doing during the summer?)

    • ¿Qué película quieres ver? (Which film do you want to see?)

  • A preposition + quién refers to people; a preposition + que refers to things.

    • ¿De quiénes habla Ud.? (About whom are you speaking?)

    • ¿De qué habla Ud.? (About what are you speaking?)

  • ¿Cuánto?, when it means how many, agrees in both number and gender with the noun being replaced. So the translation of How many are taking the test? looks like this: ¿Cuántos toman el examen?

  • ¿Cuánto?, when it means how much, and ¿qué? remain invariable.

    • ¿Cuánto vale ese coche? (How much is that car worth?)

    • ¿Qué significa esto? (What does that mean?)