pronouns - what might that be. It sounds really something
important and they are. Without them we couldn't ask
What? Who? How? Where? Which?
When? How much? Why? So, actually now you know
- the interrogative pronouns are the words that form
questions. Of course now could somebody say that a question
is also - Is he in? Right.
The interrogatives are the little words put in specify
a question in some way.
When asking Is
he in? It is probably meant is he in his room
/ office etc. at all. However, to ask When
is he in? Or Where is
he? etc. specifies the sentence into a direction.
Anyway there are those ones in Spanish as well and in
translation they are really easy.
They look pretty much the same like
the relative pronouns but they have the accent.
Note: Whenever there is an accent the pronoun is a question
(Let's admit it only helps when reading but at least
Let's have a look at the complex system
of interrogative pronouns. Their difficulty lies in
the question when to use which one.
for things, reasons, characteristics of
persons and things
something in a context
1) only in adjectival
In connection with persons qué
can only be used when asking for characteristics of
persons, not for person him- / herself.
es aquel que nunca lee un libro?
= What man is this who never reads a book.
2) Quite often it
happens that instead of which? is asked what? In Spanish
this is usual too. But the meaning in Spanish changes
and the meaning of the question is not clear anymore.
río pasa por Berlín? =
direct translation: What river passes through
The Spanish question can express two
1) Which river
goes through London?
2) What kind of river?
The Spanish question does not give a clear
indication whether the person wants to know
the name or the characteristics of the river.
Therefore it is better to be precise when
rio pasa por Berlín? = Which river
goes through Berlin?
That does not change the fact see
chapter 16.3 that in adjectival use qué is preferred in Spain and cuál in Latin America when asking for a name.
When using qué in adjectivally the context gives the information
whether it is asked for the name or for
a member of a group.
The difference between qué (what) and cuál (which) is like in English. With what it
is asked for a characteristic or a feature,
with cuál it is asked for a member
of a group.
Have a look at these sentences:
hombre es? = What man is it? (asking for a characteristic
or a feature of the man)
hombre es? =
Which man is it? (asking for one man in
a group of men)
can't be used adjectival. It is always asking for a
subject in a sentence.
Quien and cuál are changed according to the number of the
subject / object that is asked for:
¿Cuáles hombres son?
¿Cuál hombre es?
(which) and cuántos,
cuántas (how much, how many) can be used
substantival (as a noun) when the reference group is
clear. That does apply to English as well.
son? = How many are there? (How many
what?? apples, trees, millions?)
miras? = Which one you look at? (Which
one of what?)
In both cases the persons talking know clearly
what is the reference group of the question.
The difference betweenquién, quiénes (who)
cuáles (which) is the same
as in English. Who asks for a definite subject
in a sentence, never for a reference group.
Cuál always refers to a member of
a group. Very clearly you can see this
in the following sentences where cuál is used adjectivally.
Quién es? = Who is it? (no reference group) Cuál es? =
Which one is it? (reference group)
5) It has to be taken
into account that there is a difference between cuánto,
cuánta, cuántas, cuántos used
adjectivally and the adverb cuánto.
Adverbs are never changed according to gender or number.
The adjectival use of cuánto,
cuánta, cuántas, cuántos requires
the change according to gender and number. Furthermore
it has to be kept in mind that when using cuánto,
cuánta, cuántas, cuántos adjectivally
it has to be clear what the reference group of the
to gender and number, adjectival use
¿Cuánta madera se necesita
para construir una casa? = How much
wood do you need to build a house?
dinero gana? = How much money does
libros leíste el año pasado? = How many books did you read last year?
hojas tiene un árbol? = How
many leafs has a tree?
to gender and number, substantival use ¿Cuántos
son? = How many are they?
van a venir? = How many will come?
the adverb ¿Cuánto
trabaja? = How much does he work?
come un elefante?= How much does
an elephant eat?