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Video Lesson
Summary of Lesson
Looking at how questions in Spanish are formed using question words. What the Spanish question words are and when they are used.
Looking at how some of the Spanish question words are used as interrogative adjectives and pronouns. Interrogative adjectives and pronouns explained.
Other ways of forming questions other than using question words. Using the equivalent of English short form questions (isn't it / didn't you / can't he etc) and voice intonation.
A look at how negative sentences are formed in Spanish and then specifically at how negative questions are formed.
   
  What you can learn from this lesson
   
Knowing what the Spanish question words are and how they are translated into English.
Knowing when each type of question word is used in speech depending on the type of sentence and word positioning.
Being able to define what interrogative adjectives and pronouns are. Knowing which question words are used to form interrogative adjectives and pronouns and how each type is used with or without nouns.
Being able to form questions in Spanish by making your voice go up or down at the end of a sentence and by using other words instead of using a question word.
Knowing how negative questions are usually formed in Spanish.
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PART 1

 

The first part of this lesson looks at Spanish question words and how they are used to ask questions. It then goes on to look at the different types of situations in which each question word is used in every day speech.

 

The Spanish question words

 

 

singular

plural

where…to?

¿adónde?

 

how?

¿cómo?

 

what (is it like)?

¿cómo (es)?

 

which?

¿cuál? / ¿qué?

¿cuáles?

when?

¿cuándo?

 

where?

¿dónde?

 

what..for?

¿para qué?

 

why?

¿por qué?

 

what?

¿qué? / ¿cuál?

 

who?

¿quién?

¿quiénes?

whose?

¿de quién?

¿de quiénes?

 

 

feminine

masculine

how much?

¿cuánta?

¿cuánto?

how many?

¿cuántas?

¿cuántos?

 

 

Note: 1) All question words take an accent mark.

2) All questions in Spanish take paired question marks.

3) Be careful not to confuse ‘por qué’ (why), with ‘porque’ (because).

4) Some question words have different masculine / feminine or singular / plural forms.

6) Use ‘¿cuánto/os?’ before masculine nouns and ‘¿cuánta/as?’ before feminine nouns.

 

¿Cuánto pan tiene usted? How much bread do you (polite) have?
¿Cuántas toallas hay? How many towels are there?

 

When to use question words

 

Questions that use question words in Spanish normally either start with the question word or a preposition + question word.

 

¿Cómo te fue en tus viajes?    How were your travels?
¿Adónde quieres ir? Where do you want to go to?
¿Dónde (tú) quieres ir esta noche? Where do you want to go tonight?
¿Con qué tipo de pasta (tú) vas a cocinar? What type of pasta are you going to cook with?

 

Note: In Spanish a preposition can NEVER come at the end of a sentence like it can in English. See the lessons on prepositions for more details.

 

¿Qué? or ¿cuál? (which or what)

 

which? ¿qué? always used before nouns ¿Qué comida él quiere? What food does he want?
which (one)? ¿cuál? use at all other times in the singular ¿Cuál quiere él? Which (one) does he want?
which (ones)? ¿cuáles? use at all other times in the plural ¿Cuáles quiere él? Which (ones) does he want?
what (is/are)? ¿cuál es/son? use when you expect the answer to be short and ¿Cuál es tu color favorito? What's your favourite  colour?
what (is/are)? ¿qué es/son? use when you want an explanation ¿Qué son los substantivos? What are nouns?


Note: You can use ‘¿cómo?’ (what), instead of ‘¿qué?’ (what), when you want someone to repeat something.

 

¿Quién? or ¿de quién? (who or whose)

 

whose? ¿de quién? use to refer to the owner of singular nouns ¿De quién es esta bolsa? Whose bag is this?
whose? ¿de quiénes? use to refer to the owner of plural nouns ¿De quiénes son estos zapatos? Whose shoes are these?
who? ¿quién? use when asking about one person ¿Quién dijo eso? Who said that?
who? ¿quiénes? use when asking about people ¿Quiénes vinieron hoy día? Who came today?

 

Note: 1) You cannot use a noun directly after ‘¿de quién/es?’ The noun usually comes at the end of the sentence.

2) When using ‘¿quién? directly before a transitive verb (one that takes a direct object - see the separate lesson on direct and indirect objects for more details), the preposition ‘a’ needs to be used.

 

¿A quién llevaste?  Who did you take?

 

PART 2

 

The second part of this lesson looks at how question words are used to form interrogative adjectives and pronouns.

 

What are interrogative adjectives and pronouns?

 

Interrogative adjectives and pronouns are certain question words that are either used with nouns or in place of nouns to form questions or expressions.

 

Interrogative adjectives - Are used with nouns.

 

 ¿Qué bus tenemos que subir?   What bus do we have to catch?

 

Interrogative pronouns - Are used in place of nouns.

 

  ¿Qué estás haciendo?  What are you doing?

 

 

Which question words can be used as interrogative adjectives or pronouns?

 

interrogative adjectives

¿qué?

which / what?

¿cuánto/a?

how much?

¿cuántos/as?

how many?

 

Like all other adjectives, interrogative adjectives must agree to the gender and number of the nouns that they are used with. Qué (what), does not change form. ‘Cuánto/a’ (how much) is always used in the singular and ‘cuántos/as’ (how many) is always used in the plural.

 

¿Qué ciudades (tú) has visitado? Which cities have you visited?
¿Cuánto dinero debería traer? Depende cuántas mesas quiere usted? How much money should I bring? It depends how many tables you want?

 

interrogative pronouns

¿qué?

what?

¿cuál/es?

which / what? which one(s)

¿quién/es?

who?

¿cuánto/a?

how much?

¿cuántos/as?

how many?

 

The interrogative pronoun ‘¿qué?’ never changes form but ‘¿cuál? and ‘¿quién?’ are always used in the singular and ‘¿cuáles?’ and ‘¿quiénes?’ are always used in the plural.

 

¿Q quieres (tú) leer? What do you want to read?
¿Cuáles te gustan más? Which ones do you like the best?
¿Quién lo vio primero? Who saw it first?
¿Quiénes lo vio primero?  Who (more than one person) saw it first?

 

Even though interrogative adjectives are not used directly with nouns ‘¿cuánto/a? and ‘¿cuántos/as?’ still have to agree to the gender of the nouns that they are replacing. Sometimes interrogative pronouns are used where it is not necessary to repeat a noun.

 

 (Yo) necesito practica. ¿Cuánta has tenido ?  I need practice. How much have you had?


Where gender is not known then the masculine form ‘¿cuánto / cuántos?’ is used. The masculine form '¿Cuánto?' is also, always used when asking how much  something is.

 

¿Cuánto es? How much is it?

 

PART 3

 

The third part of this lesson looks at other ways that we can ask questions instead of using question words.

 

1)      By making your voice go up at the end of a sentence when we expect the answer to the question to be yes or no.

 

¿Quieres venir conmigo?  Do you want to come with me?
¿(Tú) puedes ayudarme? Can you help me?
¿Ella te ha contado algo?  Did she tell you anything?
 ¿La madre de Silvia está muerta? Silvia’s mother is dead?

 

2)      2) By making your voice go down at the end of a sentence when we expect the answer to the question not to be yes or no.

 

¿Qué tipo de torta estás haciendo?  What type of cake are you making?
¿Cómo es tu escuela nueva? What’s your new school like?

 

3)      By using the word ‘verdad’ (truth), at the end of a sentence and making your voice go up at the same time. In English short form questions are used.

 

Hace mucho calor, ¿verdad?  It’s very hot, isn’t it?
(Tú) trajiste mi boleto, ¿verdad?    You brought my ticket, didn’t you?
 (Tú) no lo perderás, ¿verdad? You won’t loose it, will you?
Todavía (tú) no tienes hambre, ¿verdad? Your not still hungry, are you?

 

4)      By using the word ‘no’ instead of the word verdad in the same way as 2 above.

 

 Es bien caro, ¿no? It’s really expensive, isn’t it?
(Tú) estás embarazada, ¿no? Your pregnant, aren’t you?

 

PART 4

 

The final part of this lesson looks at how negatives are formed in Spanish and then specifically at how negative questions are formed.

 

Using ‘no’ to form negatives

 

Most negative sentences in Spanish are formed by adding the word ‘no’ (not), before a verbal construction. In these cases the word ‘no’ always comes before the verb it is used with.

 

(Yo) no quiero comer arroz otra vez. I don’t want to eat rice again.
Ellos no hablan español. They don’t speak Spanish.

 

The word ‘no’ also always comes before both direct and indirect object pronouns when they are used with verbs. For more information on object pronouns and word positioning take a look at the separate lesson on object pronouns.

 

No me digas que (yo) no puedo. Don’t tell me that I can’t.
Mi amigo no me lo mostró. My friend didn’t show me it.

 

Using other negative words

 

nunca never / ever Nunca lo he visto. I've never seen it.
nada nothing Nada está funcionando. Nothing is working
jamás never / ever Fue la peor comida que jamás yo comí. It was the worst meal I ever ate.
nadie nobody Él nunca ayuda a nadie. He never helps anyone.
tampoco neither / either (Yo) no quiero nada tampoco gracias. I don’t want any either thanks.

 

If any of the above negative words are used with haber + past participle (have/had etc), then the negative word always comes before the formation of haber. In English it can come between ‘to have’ and the past participle.

 

(Yo) nunca he ido a México.  I have never been to Mexico .


Using 'no' in set phrases

¿(Tú) has terminado? Todavía no. Have you finished? Not yet.
¿(Tú) tienes suficiente? (Yo) creo que no. Do you have enough? I don’t think so.
¿Te quedan algunos clavos? Ya no. Have you got any nails left? Not now no.
Va hacer lluvia. (Yo) espero que no. It’s going to rain. I hope not.

Asking negative questions

 

Negative questions in Spanish are formed by using the word ‘no’ before a verbal construction in the same way as normal negative sentences are formed. The only difference is that question marks are used. You also make your voice go up at the end of a sentence.

 

Él no quiere comprártelo.  He doesn’t want to buy it for you.
normal negative sentence  
¿Él no quiere comprártelo? Doesn’t he want to buy it for you?
negative question  

 

That concludes this lesson on questions and negatives. If you have not done so already watch the actual video for this lesson and then try one of the associated quizzes to test your understanding.

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