Burning Questions: The 7 Key Spanish Question Words and 100’s of Examples

They say there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

But there are definitely some that can be nonsensical.

If you don’t yet know how to ask questions in Spanish, you might get more raised eyebrows than the answers you seek.

Whether you’re visiting a foreign country or chatting with a Spaniard in a forum, it’s always crucial to know how to ask questions in the native tongue.

Where’s a good restaurant? Where’s the train station? What’s your favorite movie?

Learning how to ask questions isn’t just practical, it’s also one of the most important aspects of the Spanish language you can learn.

So what are we waiting for?

Here are the basic how-to’s of setting up a question in Spanish, plus a few tips and plenty of example sentences.

Let’s get to know seven important question words in Spanish, also known as interrogative words!

1. Who? — ¿Quién?

Quién is the word we use for “who” in a question. It has two forms: Use quién for “who” (singular) and quiénes for “who” (plural).

Here are some examples of each:

Singular: ¿Quién es tu papá? (Who is your dad?)

Plural: ¿Quiénes son tus padres? (Who are your parents?)

To change these from “who” to “whom,” add a before quién and quiénes. For instance:

¿A quién estás buscando? (Whom are you looking for?)

And lastly, for “whose,” use de quién.

¿De quién es esta comida? (Whose food is this?)

Example sentences:

¿Quién es tu cantante favorito? — Who’s your favorite singer?

¿Quién conoce la respuesta a la pregunta? — Who knows the answer to the question?

¿Quién quiere ir al cine la próxima semana? — Who wants to go to the movies next week?

¿Quién es el jefe acá? — Who’s the boss here?

¿Quién es el autor del libro? — Who’s the author of the book?

¿Quiénes son los alumnos de Cristina? — Who are Cristina’s students?

¿Quiénes de ustedes eligieron la última respuesta? — Who of you chose the last answer?

¿Quiénes trabajan hoy? — Who’s working today?

¿Quiénes son aquellos hombres de allá? — Who are those men over there?

¿A quién debemos llamar ahora? — Who do we have to call now?

¿A quién has invitado a la fiesta? — Who did you invite to the party?

¿A quién se lo diste? — Who did you give it to?

¿De quién es este bolígrafo? — Whose pen is this?

¿De quién son estas gafas? — Whose glasses are these?

¿De quién es ese abrigo marrón? — Whose brown coat is that?

2. What? — ¿Qué? and ¿Cuál?

In English, we use “what” in any context but in Spanish, you’ll need to choose between two words: qué and cuál.

Use qué when you’re asking a question for which there’s only one possible answer. For example, you use qué to ask a definition, fact or information about something that’s generally well-known.

For example:

¿Qué es un martini? (What is a martini?)

¿Qué significa “bailar”? (What does “bailar” mean?)

Use cuál when asking someone to make a selection or provide more personal information. For example:

¿Cuál es tu número de teléfono? (What is your phone number?)

¿Cuál es tu restaurante favorito? (What is your favorite restaurant?)

If you’re inquiring about something plural, you’ll need to use cuáles instead of cuál.

Example sentences:

¿Qué significa la palabra “puerta”? — What does the word “puerta” mean?

¿Qué es esto/eso/aquello? — What’s this/that/that over there?

¿Qué te gusta más de esta ciudad? — What do you like the most about this city?

¿Qué vas a hacer este fin de semana? — What are you doing this weekend?

¿Qué tipo de libro solés leer? — What kind of book do you usually read?

¿Qué pensás sobre México/Perú? — What do you think about Mexico/Peru?

¿Qué les gusta hacer por la tarde? — What do you like to do in the afternoon?

¿Qué clase de curso me recomiendan? — What kind of course do you recommend?

¿Cuál es tu asignatura favorita? — What’s your favorite subject?

¿Cuál es tu nombre? — What’s your name?

¿Cuál es tu dirección? — What’s your address?

¿Cuál es la última película que viste? — What’s the last movie you saw?

¿Cuáles son los mejores museos de la ciudad? — What are the best museums in the city?

¿Cuáles son los cursos más difíciles? — What are the most difficult courses?

¿Cuáles fueron las respuestas correctas? — What were the correct answers?

3. When? — ¿Cuándo?

Cuándo is the word we use for “when” in a question. It doesn’t change with context, so this one’s nice and simple!

Here’s an example of how to use cuándo in a sentence:

¿Cuándo quieres ir? (When do you want to go?)

Besides seeing cuándo in isolation, you’ll also often see these two phrases at the beginning of a question:

  • desde cuándo — since when
  • hasta cuándo — until when

You’d use desde cuándo to find out when something started, like since when a friend’s been living in his new home.

Use hasta cuándo to ask how long something should or will last until it’s over, like how long you had to sit in the doctor’s waiting room.

Example sentences:

¿Cuándo naciste? — When were you born?

¿Cuándo es tu cumpleaños? — When’s your birthday?

¿Cuándo llegaste a Venezuela? — When did you arrive in Venezuela?

¿Cuándo conociste a Juan? — When did you meet Juan?

¿Cuándo volverán tus padres? — When will your parents return?

¿Cuándo tendrán lista mi documentación? — When will my documentation be ready?

¿Cuándo es la pausa para el almuerzo? — When is the lunch break?

¿Cuándo volveremos a vernos? — When will we meet again?

¿Cuándo es la fiesta de cumpleaños? — When’s the birthday party?

¿Desde cuándo viven acá? — Since when have you been living here?

¿Desde cuándo tenés novia? — Since when do you have a girlfriend?

¿Hasta cuándo estarás en Barcelona? — How long will you be in Barcelona?

¿Hasta cuándo debo esperar? — How long should I wait?

¿Sabés cuándo es el examen de español? — Do you know when the Spanish exam is?

¿Saben cuándo comienza el guateque? — Do you know when the party begins?

4. Where? — ¿Dónde?

Dónde is the word we use most commonly for “where.” It’s used to generally inquire about the location of things, people, events, etc.

Dónde is often followed by a form of “to be,” as in “Where is…?” This means you’ll need to choose between ser and estar.

Use dónde está to inquire about the location of something or someone, but use dónde es to ask for the location of an event. For instance, you’d use dónde está to ask where the park is, but dónde es to ask where in the park the birthday party is being held.

Next, we have, adónde / a dónde which means “to where.” (Both spellings are correct!)

¿Adónde / a dónde fuiste? (To where did you go?)

Lastly, we have de dónde, which means “from where.”

¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from? Literally: “From where are you?”)

Example sentences:

¿Dónde está la biblioteca? — Where’s the library?

¿Dónde está el baño? — Where’s the bathroom?

¿Dónde están mis libros de español? — Where are my Spanish books?

¿Dónde es el examen de gramática? — Where’s the grammar test?

¿Dónde está el perro de Amanda? — Where’s Amanda’s dog?

¿Dónde compraste esa camisa? — Where did you buy that shirt?

¿Dónde se encuentra Jalisco? — Where’s Jalisco located?

¿Sabés dónde está el banco más cercano? — Do you know where the nearest bank is?

¿Sabe dónde está la sala 115? — Do you know where room 115 is?

¿Adónde se dirigen a esta hora? — Where are you going at this hour?

¿Adónde fueron ayer en la noche? — Where did you go last night?

¿Adónde iremos el fin de semana? — Where will we go on the weekend?

¿De dónde venís tan tarde? — Where do you come from so late?

¿De dónde es la chica rubia? — Where’s the blonde girl from?

¿De dónde son originarios los tacos? — Where do tacos originate from?

5. Why? — ¿Para qué? and ¿Por qué?

There are two ways to ask “why” in Spanish—¿Para qué? and ¿Por qué?— and they depend, as always, on context.

If you’ve already learned the differences between por and para, then learning when to use these “why” phrases should be easy. If not (or if you need a refresher), read on!

Por qué is used to inquire about the direct cause of something, which is simple, specific or generally well known. Porque is the non-question version of the word, and it’s used for “because.” You can use porque to answer por qué questions!

Here are examples:

¿Por qué estás acostado? (Why are you lying down?)

Porque me siento mal. (Because I feel bad.)

On the other hand, para qué inquires about intention or purpose. Here’s an example:

¿Para qué estudias español? (Why do you study Spanish?/ What do you study Spanish for?)

See how the first question (with por qué) was a question about a cause and the second one (with para qué) inquires for a purpose?

It’ll take some practice, so be sure to read up more about the differences between para and por to master your Spanish questioning skills.

Example sentences:

¿Por qué estudian español? — Why do you study Spanish?

¿Por qué elegiste esta ciudad? — Why did you choose this city?

¿Por qué no venís con nosotros al cine? — Why don’t you come to the movies with us?

¿Por qué estás tan callada? — Why are you so quiet?

¿Por qué no viniste a clase ayer? — Why didn’t you come to class yesterday?

¿Por qué no funciona la cafetera? — Why doesn’t the coffee maker work?

¿Sabés por qué llegó tarde Juan? — Do you know why Juan was late?

¿Saben por qué cerraron los cines? — Do you know why the cinemas closed?

¿Para qué vinieron tan pronto? — Why did you come so soon?

¿Para qué sirve esta herramienta? — What is this tool for?

¿Para qué necesitamos este documento? — What do we need this document for?

¿Para qué vino Juana? — What did Juana come for?

¿Para qué me contás eso? — Why are you telling me that?

¿Saben para qué se usa esto? — Do you know what this is used for?

¿Para qué me hace tantas preguntas? — Why are you asking me so many questions?

6. How? — ¿Cómo?

You likely already know a few examples of cómo in use already. Think of your basics, like ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)

Cómo can also be translated as “what,” as in ¿Cómo te llama? (What is your name?)

This word is fairly simple and unchanging, but if you want to ask “how many,” then you’ll need a different word, which you’ll learn in the next section.

Example sentences:

¿Cómo se llama eso? — What is that called?

¿Cómo vas a la escuela? — How do you get to school?

¿Cómo puedo ayudarle? — How can I help you?

¿Cómo me encontraste aquí? — How did you find me here?

¿Cómo es posible eso? — How is that possible?

¿Cómo se encuentra esta mañana? — How are you feeling this morning?

¿Cómo funciona esta calculadora? — How does this calculator work?

¿Cómo se dice “ayuda” en inglés? — How do you say “ayuda” in English?

¿Cómo me queda esta chaqueta? — How does this jacket fit me?

¿Cómo le gusta la carne? — How do you like your meat cooked?

¿Cómo podés estar tan tranquilo? — How can you be so calm?

¿Cómo se llama tu papá? — What’s your dad’s name?

¿Cómo lo consiguieron así de rápido? — How did you get it this fast?

¿Cómo terminó la película de anoche? — How did last night’s movie end?

¿Cómo vamos a volver al hotel? — How are we going to get back to the hotel?

7. How many? / How much? — ¿Cuánto(a/os/as)?

Cuánto is the Spanish word we use for “how much” and “how many,” and this word will change depending on what you’re asking about.

Here’s what you need:

  • cuánto is used for a singular masculine subject (uncountable)
  • cuánta is used for a singular feminine subject (uncountable)
  • cuántos is used for a plural masculine subject
  • cuántas is used for a plural feminine subject.

Here are a few examples:

Plural, masculine: ¿Cuántos dólares cuesta la chaqueta? (How many dollars does the jacket cost?)

Singular, masculine (uncountable): ¿Cuánto dinero cuesta la chaqueta? (How much money does the jacket cost?)

Example sentences:

¿Cuánto tiempo queda? — How much time is left?

¿Cuánto pagaste por tu boleto? — How much did you pay for your ticket?

¿Cuánto cuesta el curso de español? — How much does the Spanish course cost?

¿Cuánto tardarás en volver? — How long (how much time) will it take you to come back?

¿Cuánto vino bebiste ayer? — How much wine did you drink yesterday?

¿Cuánta plata necesitamos para el viaje? — How much money do we need for the trip?

¿Cuánta harina utilizaste para el pastel? — How much flour did you use for the cake?

¿Cuánta gente hubo en la fiesta de Ana? — How many people were there at Ana’s party?

¿Cuántos años tenés vos? — How old are you?

¿Cuántos hermanos tiene tu mamá? — How many siblings does your mum have?

¿Cuántos libros tuviste que comprar? — How many books did you have to buy?

¿Cuántos niños podés ver en el dibujo? — How many children can you see in the drawing?

¿Cuántas respuestas son correctas? — How many answers are correct?

¿Cuántas señoras vinieron a la entrevista? — How many ladies came to the interview?

¿Cuántas veces vamos a repetir la lección? — How many times are we going to repeat the lesson?

Frequently Asked Questions About Spanish Questions

How do you translate English questions into Spanish?

In English, the words “do” and “does” are very commonly used when we ask questions.

You may have noticed that, in Spanish questions, there isn’t usually a word that takes the place of “do” or “does.”

For example, let’s examine the question: “Does she eat Mexican food?”

In Spanish, it would look like this: ¿Ella come comida mexicana?” Notice how there isn’t a word that replaces “does.” It reads more literally as “She eats Mexican food?”

What is the sentence structure for Spanish questions?

One other difference is that in English, it’s very important to put your words in the right order to ask a question. In Spanish, question syntax is a lot less strict.

To expand on the previous example, the following sentences would also be acceptable as questions:

¿Come ella comida mexicana?

¿Come comida mexicana ella?

Do Spanish question words need accent marks?

Yes! All these question words have accent marks on them.

When they’re used in a non-question context, the accent mark is dropped! Note the differences between these sentences:

  • ¿Cuándo quieres ir? (When do you want to go?) This is a classic interrogative sentence in Spanish.
  • Necesito saber cuándo quieres ir. (I need to know when you want to go.) We find no question marks here, but the meaning is still interrogative. There’s missing information that’s being requested.
  • Cuando llegues, llámame. (When you arrive, call me.) No interrogative meaning here.

An example of this can be found in the song, Cuando Me Enamoro” by Enrique Iglesias, which translates in English to “When I Fall in Love.” Notice how, since the word isn’t interrogative, it’s spelled as cuando instead of cuándo.

 

Give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve learned the basics of asking questions in Spanish.

Once you’ve got these words down, many doors will open for you in Spanish conversation.

Buena suerte (good luck) with your future interrogations in Spanish!

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