Spanish Question Words

This post simply sets out the main Spanish question words with some examples.

I have included approximate pronunciation for English speakers in brackets against each question word.

  • ¿Cuándo? [quando] = When?
  • ¿Qué? [kay] = What?
  • ¿Por qué?/¿Para qué? [por kay/para kay]= Why?
  • ¿Dónde? [don-dey] = Where?
  • ¿Adónde? [a-don-dey] = Where to?
  • ¿De dónde? [dey don-dey] = Where from?
  • ¿Cómo? [como] = How?
  • ¿Cuánto (tiempo)? [quanto (tiem-po)]= How much time?
  • ¿Cuánto/a? [quanto/a] = How much?
  • ¿Cuántos/Cuántas? [quantos/quantas] = How many?
  • ¿Quién? [key-en] = Who? = Which person? (referring to one person)
  • ¿Quiénes? [key-en-es]= Who? = Which people? (referring to 2(+) people)
  • ¿Cuál? [qual] = Which (one)?
  • ¿Cuáles? [quales] = Which (ones)?

Important Points on Spanish Question Words

The most important points you need to know on Spanish question words are below.

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Question marks in Spanish

In Spanish the upside question mark (i.e. ¿) starts the question and the normal question mark (i.e. ?) ends the question, for example:

  • ¿Dónde vives? = Where do you live? (asking one person informally)

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¿Por qué?/¿Para qué? = Why?

Most people only learn ¿Por qué? for ‘Why?’, but in fact there is also ‘¿Para qué?’. The meanings of both mean ‘Why?’ in English, so do not worry too much about about the difference.  

  • ¿Por qué? is like asking ‘For what reason?‘ or ‘Because of what?
  • ¿Para qué? is like asking ‘For what purpose?‘ or ‘In order to achieve what?

I will be adding a post in the future with more detail and examples on the difference between the two, but for the timebeing use ‘¿Por qué?’, as this is the most common one.

¿Quién? or ¿Quiénes? = Who?

In Spanish we have two question words for ‘who?’. Essentially:

  • ¿Quién?‘ is singular and means ‘Which person?‘; and
  • ¿Quiénes?‘ means ‘Which people?’

Examples:

  • ¿Quién es Juan? = Who is Juan?
    • = Which person is Juan? (i.e. Who is Juan?)
  • ¿Quiénes son Juan y Ignacio? = Who are Juan and Ignacio?
    • = Which people are Juan and Ignacio? (i.e. Who are Juan and Ignacio?)

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¿Cuánto? or ¿Cuánta? = How much?

By default ‘How much?’ is always ‘¿Cuánto?’ unless followed immediately by a feminine noun (i.e. a feminine noun). In that situation, ¿Cuánta? is used, for example:

  • ¿Cuánto cuesta? = How much does it cost? (literally: How much it costs?)
    • Note: The word ‘cuesta’ is not a feminine noun. It is an action word i.e. a verb.
  • ¿Cuánto dinero? = How much money?
    • Note: The word ‘dinero’ (money) is not a feminine noun. It is a masculine noun.
  • ¿Cuánta carne? = How much meat?
    • Note: The word ‘carne’ (meat) is a feminine noun.

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¿Cuántos? or ¿Cuántas? = How many?

How many?‘ is always ‘¿Cuántos?’ unless referring to a plural feminine noun (in which case ‘¿Cuántas?’ is used), for example:

  • ¿Cuántos libros? = How many are there? (‘How many?’ does not refer to a plural feminine noun. It refers to a masculine plural noun. Books are masculine in Spanish).
  • ¿Cuántas mesas? = How many tables? (‘How many?’ does refer to a plural feminine noun. Tables are feminine in Spanish).

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¿Cómo?

Useful tip: As well as ‘¿Cómo?’ meaning ‘How?‘, it is also used commonly to say ‘Please repeat’/’Say that again’.

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Hopefully this article has helped you with the question words in Spanish and to know the differences between the key question words.

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Further Information
  • If you have any questions, do not hesitate to get in contact.
  • Alternatively contact me if you would like to discuss doing Spanish tuition with me. (More details on my language tuition services here).

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