|16.1 Interrogative pronouns|
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 something!).
Let's have a look at the complex system
of interrogative pronouns. Their difficulty lies in
the question when to use which one.
|qué||yes 1||yes||yes 2||yes||What?|
|quién||yes 3||yes||yes||Who?, Whose|
|cuántos||yes||yes 4||yes||How much? How many?|
|cuánto 5||yes||How much? How many?|
asks for things, reasons, characteristics of persons and things
|Quién?||asks for persons|
|Cuál?||asks for something in a context|
|Cómo?||asks for manner|
|Cuándo?||asks for time span|
|Cuántos?||asks for quantity|
|Cuánto?||asks for quantity|
|Por qué?||asks for reason|
|Dónde?||asks for location|
1) only in adjectival use
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
1) Which river
goes through London?
¿Cuál 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)
|¿Cuál hombre es? = Which man is it? (asking for one man in a group of men)|
3) Quién 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?|
4) cuál (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?)
The difference between quién, quiénes (who) and cuál, 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)
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 context is.
to gender and number, adjectival use
|¿Cuánto dinero gana? = How much money does he earn?|
|¿Cuántos 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?
¿Cuánto trabaja? = How much does he work?
|¿Cuánto come un elefante? = How much does an elephant eat?|
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