Ready 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!
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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!