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Asking Questions

Haciendo preguntas

Interrogatives

Asking a question and being able to answer it in Spanish is an important lesson to learn.

This is why the list below includes a comprehensive list of question words in Spanish, but it should by no means be perceived as complete, as there are many different ways to ask a question, and they include the very difficult subjunctive. Also, like in most languages, half of the question is given away by the tone of voice you use.

So, whilst this page gives you a good introduction to asking questions, it is not match to actually taking some Spanish classes in the Spanish world, where you can flesh out your intonation and Spanish vocabulary.

In any case, we've tried to make this as good a start as any. Try reading these out loud and judge by yourself how well you are doing!

English WordSpanish WordPronunciation
who¿Quién?key-enn
who (plural)¿Quiénes?key-enn-ness
who is it? (polite)¿Quién es?key-enn ehss
who is he / she?¿Quién es él / ella?key-enn ehss ell / eyah
who is going?¿Quién va?key-enn vah
with who/whom?¿Con quién?con key-enn
for who/whom?¿Para quién?parrah key-enn
to whom?¿A quién?ah key-enn
what? (colloquial / amongst friends)¿Qué?keh
what? (less informal)¿Cómo?coh-moh
how?¿Cómo?coh-moh
how are you? (to a friend)¿Cómo estás?comoh es-tass
when?¿Cuándo?kwandoh
where?¿Dónde?donday
to where?¿Adónde?ah-donday
from where?¿De dónde?deh-donday
why?¿Por qué?por kay
which?¿Cuál?kwal
which ones?¿Cuáles?kwaless
how much?¿Cuánto? ¿Cuánta?kwuntoh / kwuntah
how many?¿Cuántos? ¿Cuántas?kwuntoss / kwuntuss
how much does it cost?¿Cuánto cuesta?kwuntoh kwester
how much is it worth / does it cost?¿Cuánto vale?kwuntoh bally
at what time?¿A qué hora?ah kay orrah
what time is it?¿Qué hora es?kay orrah ess
what do you want?¿Qué quieres?kay keyeeriss
how often?¿Cuada cuánto?ka-da koo-ahn-tow?
how often do you eat 'bread'?¿Cada cuánto comes pan?ka-da koo-ahn-tow comiss pan

Statements can also be made into questions the same as in English. As in English, Spanish also raise their voices to imply the question.

Statement: You have a dog - Tienes un perro.
Question: You have a dog? - ¿Tienes un perro?

You'll note that all the above question words in Spanish have an accent, so when you are reading it is another clue that a question is being asked. But how do you know which word to use when there is a masculine, feminine and their plural options? Cúanto has 4 such versions and the appropriate version depends on the number and gender of the noun used. It's not all about Spanish pronunciation.

For example:
¿Cuánto mides?- How tall are you?
¿Cuánta gente?- How many people are there? (la gente - feminine)
¿Cuántos libros hay?- How many books are there? (los libros - masculine, plural)
¿Cuántas hermanas tienes?- How many sisters do you have? (las hermanas - feminine, plural)

English speakers often get mixed up with the use of Qué and Cuál which can both translate to 'what' in English. What is your favourite colour? - ¿Cuál es tu color favorito? Cuál is used because there is more than one answer you could choose from, as there are lots of colours in the world.