- When meaning ‘what’, qué asks for a definition, time, or explanation, whereas cuál is used to ask for personal information. When meaning ‘which’, ‘qué’ asks about objects and preferences. ‘Cuál’ asks to make a choice between two options.
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- An Overview of Qué vs Cuál
- Question Phrase 1 – ¿Qué Es…?
- Question Phrase 2 – ¿Cuál Es…?
- Question Phrase 3 – ¿Cuál de…?
- Question Phrase 4 – ¿Qué (Sustantivo)…?
- Question Phrase 5 – ¿Qué (Verbo)…?
- Question Phrase 6 – ¿Cuál (Verbo)…?
- Your Turn
If you want to learn how to use qué and cuálproperly in Spanish, you first need to stop thinking of these two Spanish questions words as the translation of ‘what?’ and ‘which?’. You’ll likely end up going around in circles if you try to directly translate these English question words. And, you may even spend unnecessary time thinking about the correct use of ‘what?’ and ‘which?’ in English. Instead, you’ll be much better off if you think of qué and cuálin phrase combinations with either a verb, noun, or preposition. What this means is you now have more things memorise. But, the good news is there are only 6 phrases you need to know. Moreover, any question that you could possibly want to ask in Spanish based around options or definitions could fit into one of these 6 question phrases. The 6 phrases are: ¿Qué es…? ¿Cuál es…? ¿Cuál de…? ¿Qué (sustantivo)…? ¿Qué (verbo)…? ¿Cuál (verbo)…? In the last few examples, ‘(verbo)’ represents a conjugated verb and ‘(sustantivo)’ represents any S...
The first thing you should ask yourself: are you looking for the definition of a word or phrase? If you are, you’ll need this first question phrase. Think of ¿Qué es…? as asking “What is the definition of…?”. For example: English: What is (the definition of) a country? Espanõl: ¿Qué es un país? English: What is (the definition of) a family name? Español: ¿Qué es un apellido? English: What is (the definition of) a sentence? Español: ¿Qué es una oración? If you think the answer to your question would be in a dictionary then start your question with ¿Qué es…?.
If your question isn’t related to the definition of an idea or concept but instead could have a variety of answers, you may need this second question phrase. In fact, ¿Cuál es…?should to be one of your go-to questions for asking about anything where more than one answer is possible. Furthermore, you still need this construction even when it feelslike there is only one answer such as asking someone’s name. For example, this is not correct: English: What is your name? Español: ¿Qué estu nombre? ⊗ If you want to ask someone’s name using a construction where you need to decide between qué vs cuál, you must use cuál. English: What is your name? Español: ¿Cuál es tu nombre? Of course, you can also ask someone’s name using a reflexive verb in combination with cómo. As I mentioned earlier, we see a lot of Spanish students making mistakes with this construction. This is because: 1. It is really tempting to translate “What is…?” to ¿Qué es…?. 2. There are many questions in English that start...
This third question phrase is a lot more obvious than the previous two and is much easier to translate between English and Spanish. You use ¿Cuál de…?when you want to ask “which of … (these options) …?”. For example: English: Which of your siblings is the tallest? Español: ¿Cuál de tus hermanos es el más alto? English: Which of these paintings do you prefer? Español: ¿Cuál de estas pinturas prefieres? English: Which of the cars is yours? Español: ¿Cuál de los coches es el tuyo? If you are expecting the question to have more than one answer, you can also use this structure with cuálesas follows: English: Which of your friends know Spanish? Español: ¿Cuáles de tus amigos saben español? English: Which of your cousins went to your wedding? Español: ¿Cuáles de tus primas fueron a tu boda? Note that with these last two examples the conjugated verbs match cuáles in plural form (ellos / ellas).
This fourth phrase seems to present more troubles than the rest. In English, you might ask questions like: Which book do you prefer? Which option do you want? Which restaurant has the best food? All of these questions need to have a quéin Spanish. The rule is: if you immediately follow a question word with a noun, the question word in Spanish should be qué. This is why it is much better to think of ¿Qué (sustantivo)…?than trying to directly translate ‘which?’. The English questions above in Spanish are: English: Which book do you prefer? Español: ¿Qué libro prefieres? English: Which option do you want? Español: ¿Qué opción quieres? English: Which restaurant has the best food? Español: ¿Qué restaurante tiene la mejor comida?
You need this question phrase whenever you want to follow a question word by a conjugated verb and there isn’t a discrete set of choices in front of you. If you want to ask about what happened, what someone wants, what someone does, or what someone wants to do, etc., you’ll need this phrase. The choice between this phrase and the last phrase in Spanish is much closer to the consideration you have to make when deciding between ‘what’ and ‘which’ in English. If there is a big range of options, go with ¿Qué (verbo)…?. For example: English: What did you do on the weekend? Español: ¿Qué hiciste el fin de semana? English: What do you want to do this afternoon? Español: ¿Qué quieres hacer esta tarde? English: What did you have for breakfast? Español: ¿Qué has desayunado? As you can see, the answers to these questions could range from a whole list of possible answers, none of which could be a discrete choice of 1, 2, or 3.
In contrast to the previous phrase, if you have a small set of things to choose from, and you know from context what you are choosing, then you will need this last phrase. Context matters here! In other words, you can only use this question phrase if linked to a previous statement. Going back to a previous phrase, imagine you have 3 books to offer someone, you could ask which book they want using question phrase 3 as follows: English: Which of these three books do you want? Español: ¿Cuál de estos tres libros quieres? Or, you can use this last question phrase 6 by first stating something about the range of books, and then asking a question related to choice. For example: English: I have three books. Which (one) do you want? Español: Tengo tres libros. ¿Cuál quieres? As you can see from this example the best translation of ¿Cuál (verbo)…?is “which [one] (conjugated verb)…?”. With this last phrase, try to always think “which one?”. For example, “which one do I want?”, “which one is be...
The choice between ‘what’ and ‘which’ sometimes makes for a fun discussion in English. In contrast, the rules for qué vs cuálare more simply defined in Spanish by the above set of phrases. It might take a little getting used to, but if you remember the phrases from this post, you will be able to avoid any mistakes with qué vs cuál. I suggest you take one phrase from the post and use as often as you can, then come back, choose another, and go again. If you loved this tip, you can get more tips just like it in your inbox every week, please sign up for our “Español de la Semana” newsletter here. How else can you use qué vs cuálin a Spanish question?
Feb 02, 2021 · If you have a question —about anything— and you think that more than one answer is possible, then you should use ¿Cuál es..?, which may be loosely translated as “Which..?” ¿Cuál es tu nombre?
Nov 30, 2016 · 1-when you have two options and there are not quite exactly the same in Spanish, I mean literal translation, the case of when to use qué and cuál in Spanish, which we are studying today or
Jan 27, 2016 · USE CUÁL OR CUÁLES BEFORE A VERB WHEN YOU WANT TO SUGGEST A SELECTION OR OR CHOICE FROM AMONG A GROUP: (this can often be translated as ‘which one’ or ‘which ones’) ¿Cuáles quieren los niños? Which ones do the children want? but ¿Qué quieren los niños?
Notice that we have to put ‘about’ in the front of the sentence. In Spanish we cannot have a preposition at the end of the sentence. 3. In Latin American, cuál and cuáles are used before nouns sometimes; however, qué is considered standard. 4. “ asistir a ” is “to attend”; the a is needed when a place is after asistir.
A little help with qué vs cuál. When it comes to asking questions, choosing between 'qué' and 'cuál' can be another tricky choice - especially because both of these words can often be translated as 'what?'. This mini lesson might help to make the choice clearer.
‘Qué’ allows us to ask for general information or explanations. We use ‘cuál’ to ask people to make a choice between more than one object.
Jan 20, 2019 · When to Use Accent Marks The two words, when they have accents, are used as interrogative pronouns in questions to mean "what" or "which." Qué is the same in the singular and plural forms; the plural of cuál is cuáles. Accented forms of these words appear only in exclamations and in questions, which includes an indirect question.