The 7 Spanish Question Words & How to Use Them

spanish question wordsReady to learn the question words in Spanish? One of the best ways to advance your Spanish skills is to converse with fluent or native speakers. But how do you break the ice? 

Start by mastering the new vocabulary in this guide, and then practice some of the most commonly asked questions.

People love being asked questions! It shows you’re interested in their opinions and experiences.

After reading this article, you’ll feel more comfortable meeting new people and making friends in Spanish. 

The 7 Spanish Question Words

Let’s go over some of the most important question words in Spanish. Memorize this vocabulary so you can be ready to strike up a conversation when the opportunity arises!

1. ¿Cómo?

Cómo literally translates to “how,” but it can also mean “what” when used in isolation. You should also know that como – without the accent over the O – means “like” or “I eat.”

This is a lot of different meanings, so be sure to pay attention to the context of the conversation for clues to the word’s definition. Here are some common questions you might ask using cómo:

  • ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • ¿Cómo te sientes? (How are you feeling?)
  • ¿Cómo te fue? (How did it go?)
  • ¿Cómo lo hiciste? (How did you do that?)

If you look closely at the sentence structure of these questions, you’ll see that in Spanish, you don’t need to add a word for “do.” For example, “How do you make that?” would literally be translated into Spanish as: ¿Cómo lo haces? (How you make that?).

It sounds funny when translated literally, doesn’t it? This is one example of a basic language translation fact: we translate ideas, not words.

2. ¿Quién?

Quién means “who” in English. When using it in writing, remember to apply the accent mark over the E. A few common questions using the word quién are:

  • ¿Quién es? (Who is it?) Note: Use when answering a phone or door.
  • ¿Quién sabe? (Who knows?)
  • ¿Quién es? (Who is that?)
  • ¿Quiénes son? (Who are they?)
  • ¿Con quién vas? (Who are you going with?)

As you can see in the last example, sentences in Spanish often begin with the word con, meaning “with.” This is a key difference from English, where sentences and questions rarely start with the word “with.” You wouldn’t say, “With whom are you going?”

Another thing you’ll notice is that when quién is used plurally, referring to more than one person, it becomes quiénes.

3. ¿Qué?

Qué means “what.” Like with quién, remember to apply an accent mark over the E. This is important because without the accent over the E, que means “that.” Here are some questions you’ll use regularly with the word qué:

  • ¿Qué es? (What is it?) 
  • ¿Qué significa? (What does that mean?)
  • ¿Qué hiciste? (What did you do?)
  • ¿Qué? (What?)

Be aware that when used in isolation, “¿Cómo?” means the same thing as “¿Qué?”  You’ll hear Spanish speakers using both of these phrases.

4. ¿Dónde?

Dónde means “where.” Just like the other Spanish question words, remember to apply the necessary accent mark. Common questions with dónde include:

  • ¿A dónde vas? (Where are you going?) Note: “A” means “to.”
  • ¿Dónde está? (Where is it?)
  • ¿Dónde vives? (Where do you live?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)

In the last example sentence, De means “of,” so the question literally  translates to: “Of where are you?”

5. ¿Cuándo?

Cuándo means “when.” Remember to apply the accent mark over the A. Here are some questions you’ll hear frequently using this question word:

  • ¿Cuándo es? (When is it?) Note: Use for social events or appointments.
  • ¿Cuándo vienes? (When are you coming?)
  • ¿Cuándo nos vemos? (When will we see each other?)
  • ¿Cuándo es la junta? (When is the meeting?)

Sentence structure for questions isn’t too different from English. The basic structure for all of these starts with the question word and is followed by the conjugated verb in the appropriate tense.

6. ¿Cuál?

Cuál means “which,” and as you can see, it also requires an accent mark over the vowel. Practice these sentences using the word cuál:

  • ¿Cuál es tu nombre? (What is your name?)
  • ¿Cuál es tu favorito? (What’s your favorite?)
  • ¿Cuál escoges? (Which do you choose?)
  • ¿Cuáles son tuyos? (Which are yours?)

Remember how quién became quiénes? You’ll also notice that when cuál is used in the plural form, it becomes cuáles.

In the first two examples, take note that Spanish uses the word for “which,” rather than “what” as we’re used to in English.

7. ¿Por qué?

Por qué means “why,” but be careful! It can also mean “because” when there’s no space between the words and no accent mark present. Here are a few questions you can ask using por qué:

  • ¿Por qué hiciste esto? (Why did you do that?)
  • ¿Por qué llegaste tarde? (Why are you late?)
  • ¿Por qué no te sientes bien? (Why don’t you feel good?)
  • ¿Por qué no está Juan? (Why isn’t John here?)

It’s vital to learn these seven words, because you can’t ask questions in Spanish without them! Study these essential Spanish question words to really take your conversation skills to the next level.

Need more help forming questions in Spanish? Check out the video below from one of our online Spanish classes.


You can also take private lessons with a Spanish teacher, online or locally. You’ll get hands-on instruction and instant feedback on your grammar and pronunciation. Buena suerte!

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What is Timbre in Music and the Voice? Why is it Important?

what is timbre

What is timbre? Timbre in music is also identified as “color.” It is the quality and tone of a sound which makes it unique.

Timbre is also defined as auditory senses produced by a sound wave. In other words, it refers to a sound’s characteristics that help you distinguish it from any other sound.

For instance, you can recognize the difference between hearing your father talk versus your grandmother because they each have their own distinct timbre.

What is Timbre?

Understanding timbre in music is important for all musicians, especially singers, when you want to produce a different tone or quality in a piece of music.

Different timbres are described using words like brassy, breathy, round, full, or bright. You can use different types of vocal timbre to create a sound that gives the right “feel” or emotion to your music.

It’s not just about playing or singing “with feeling.” You should know how a tone is utilized to achieve that emotion.

The sound waves produced when someone sings a note are different for each individual person because there are multiple factors that go into the production of a sound, such as breath.

The timbre of a sound depends heavily on its waveform, which varies with the number of overtones (AKA “harmonics”) that are present, their frequencies, and their relative intensities.

The illustration below shows several unique waveforms, to give you an idea of what this looks like.

what is timbre

Timbre in Music

Musicians create varying timbres, based on both their instrument and the number of frequencies the instrument emits.

Each note from a musical instrument is a complex wave containing more than one frequency. The video below examines the timbre of several different instruments and explains how the way that you play an instrument affects its timbre.  


One example of timbre in music is known as “attack and decay.” When someone plucks a guitar string or strikes a piano key, the sound is hit forcefully; it’s loud and then sort of dies away.

This explains how the same note can have a different timbre when played differently by another musician.

Factors that Affect Timbre

So, what factors affect timbre in music? There are multiple, depending on the instrument. For example, the way someone pushes air through an oboe will contribute to the sound frequencies that are emitted and the way it is heard, giving it a distinguished timbre.

Things like forced air, breath control, posture, and so on are all factors that affect timbre. Small differences in the frequencies are also a factor – how many you can hear, their relationship to the pitch, and how loud they are.

The shape of an instrument and the envelope of an instrument’s sound both affect its timbre. Check out the video below to see the differences within sound waves when playing the same note from instrument to instrument.   

Timbre in the Voice

When singing, your timbre is affected by either constricting or opening different parts of the vocal tract, like the tongue and throat. Posture and breath control also play a role.

Most singers are familiar with their voice type – whether it’s soprano, alto, tenor, or bass – and these classifications are related to timbre as well. Understanding which sound waves are high, low, and mid-level can help you identify your voice type.

Your speaking voice even has its own timbre. The unique soundwaves you create when speaking are what allow you to be recognized by others. Common examples of timbre in the voice are sounds that are piercing, resonant, light, flat, mellow, dark, or warm.

One example is Celine Dion. Her voice is often categorized as “silky,” whereas someone like Ella Fitzgerald has more of a “smoky” timbre.


Vibrato is another way to identify timbre in a singing voice. It provides color to a lengthy note that is held, changing its frequency and tone.

Improving Your Sound

Now that you understand the implications of timbre, how can you apply them to your own music? One of the best ways to improve upon your timbre as a singer is to work with a vocal coach – someone who has a deep understanding of timbre and its use.

A voice teacher can work exclusively with you to help you identify your distinct quality and tone. They’ll also show you how to adjust it to get the sound and pitch you desire, especially when working on a particular song that requires a specific emotion or feeling.

Because there is no one else like you in the world, learn to appreciate and take pride in your unique timbre. Whether you’re a singer or musician, your timbre sets you apart and helps distinguish you from other artists!

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