Interrogative pronouns – question or exclamation pronouns

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Interrogative Pronouns

The question or exclamation pronouns

Thing Person Selection Amount
Singular masc

fem

qué quién cuál cuánto

cuánta

Plural masc

fem

qué quienes cuáles cuántos

cuántas

Use

Qué (what – how much – what for one – which) is unchangeable and stands exclusively for things and/or circumstances

Example:

¿Qué has dicho? – What did you say?

¿Qué hora es? – What time is it?

¿Qué novela lees? – What kind of novel are you reading?

¿Qué abrigo es el de Elena? – Which coat is Elena’s?

With preposition, the translation is different:

para qué (for what) – por qué (why) – de qué (about what) etc.

Example:

¿Para qué vienes? – What are you coming for?

¿Por qué preguntas? – Why do you ask?

Quién/es stands for persons who are not known or not intended. If you know in advance that you are asking for several people, you use quiénes.

Example:

¿Quién ha llamado? – Who called?

¿A quién esperas? – Who are you waiting for?

¿Quiénes son los de la izquierda? – Who are those on the left?

Cuál/es (which/what) is used as question pronoun. It asks for a person or a thing and serves the selection from a set. If this is not clear, it is expressed by de+Substantive, number or pronouns.

Furthermore, you ask with cuál/es for something you assume, e.g. that each country has a currency or capital, or each person has a name, address etc..

Example:

¿Cuál te gusta más? – Which one do you like better?

¿Cuál es la capital de España? – What is the capital of Spain?

Cuánto/-a/-os/-as (how much) depends on the noun in gender and number and asks for the number or quantity. As an exclamation pronoun it expresses a large amount (how much/very much)

Example:

¿Cuánta ropa necesitas? – How much clothes do you need?

¿Cuánto dura el viaje? – How long does the trip take?

¿Cuántas veces has estado en Perú? – How many times have you been to Peru?

¿Cuántos animales tienes? – How many animals do you have?

Further interrogative pronouns

dónde – where

adónde – whereto

de dónde – wherefrom

cuándo – when

cómo – how