Interrogative Pronouns in Spanish

Interrogative pronouns carry out the task of introducing questions by appearing at the beginning of interrogative sentences.

Below are the Spanish translations of some common English interrogative pronouns:

  1. What = qué
  2. Which (one) = cuál; which (ones) = cuáles
  3. Who = quién(es)
  4. Whose = de quién(es)
  5. How much (many) = cuánto (a, os, as)

Things To Remember

During Spanish translation, translators must remember that ‘whose´ must always be translated into ‘de quien´ and not ‘cuyo´ because the latter is a relative pronoun, and can never be used to replace ‘de quien´. For example, ‘De quién es este reloj de pulsera´ and not ‘Cuyo reloj de pulsera es éste´ for ‘Whose wristwatch is this´.

They must also remember that both ‘por qué´ and ‘para qué´ are Spanish translations of the English ‘why´. Yet, they are to be used in different situations. ‘Por qué´ is used to ask the reason for an action; ‘para qué´ is used to ask about the outcome of an action. For example, ‘Por qué se ha detenido el tren´ (why has the train stopped) but ‘Para qué fue inventada esta máquina curiosa´ (why was this odd machine invented).

Often, instead of being asked directly, the question is asked in an indirect manner or only suggested. In such cases, the interrogative pronoun, instead of occurring at the beginning of the sentence, occurs within it. For example, ‘Me preguntaron qué deseaba.´ (They asked me what I wanted.)

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