Want to dive deeper into learning Spanish? Don’t be afraid to ask!
Questions are critical to understanding the world around us. In Spanish, question words are used to ask who, what, where, and when regarding a particular subject. Once you learn all the question words in Spanish, you’ll be able to discover more about the language and the people you’re conversing with.
The basic question words in Spanish are easy to use because people love being asked questions! It shows you’re interested in their opinions and experiences while demonstrating your commitment to learning the language. After reading this article, you’ll feel more comfortable meeting new people and making friends in Spanish.
The 7 Spanish Question Words
You only need to know seven words to start asking questions in Spanish. Whether your aim is to become fluent someday, or just know enough Spanish to travel in Spain or South America, you’ll need to know how to pose a question. Imagine the knowledge that can be unlocked just by asking the right question!
Today, we’re going to look at some of the most important question words in Spanish. Once you memorize this vocabulary, you’ll be able to strike up a conversation whenever 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.” For example, you wouldn’t typically 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 basic Spanish question words and phrases to take your conversation skills to the next level and get ready to explore the Spanish-speaking world.
While articles, books, and recorded videos can be a great resource, there’s no substitute for personalized language lessons. With a tutor, you can practice Spanish question words in a natural, effective way. Every question you ask will reveal more linguistic and cultural gems.
Even if there’s no Spanish teacher in your neighborhood, online lessons make it easy to connect with the perfect tutor from anywhere in the world. Adults and children alike love the flexibility that online lessons provide, and nothing beats taking a Spanish lesson from the comfort of your home! You’ll achieve your language goals as fast as possible, with the personalized feedback that private tutor provides.
Ready to try Spanish question words? Find your ideal Spanish tutor today!