spanish question wods

23 Spanish Question Words to Know With 104 Examples

What motivates you to study Spanish?

Who is your teacher?

How often do you have classes?

How many new Spanish words did you learn today?

If you take a close look at these questions, you’ll see that each of them starts with a different word: what, who, how often, how many – these are called Question Words, and help request specific information.

Asking questions is an inseparable part of using a language. It allows you to communicate with other people, helps you when you get lost, or when you need to choose the best candidate for a job. It also helps to meet new friends and start a conversation in Spanish.

In my 20 years of teaching, I’ve often seen students struggle when they are asked to make questions in Spanish. Certainly, in the classroom environment it is mainly the teacher who asks questions and they are the ones who answer them.

Yet, in real life we get to do both: ask and answer. There’s no way to escape from asking questions.

This is why I have prepared a selection of Spanish question words that you should definitely know and master, if you want to increase your fluency.

Ready? Let’s get started then!

¿Qué?

One of the most common Spanish question words is ¿QUÉ?, which translates as WHAT.

Check out the following examples:

🇪🇸 ¿Qué es esto?
🇬🇧 What is this?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué comida te gusta?
🇬🇧 What food do you like?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué quieres tomar?
🇬🇧 What do you want to drink?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué película viste anoche?
🇬🇧 What movie did you watch last night?

¿Por qué?

This one also has an easy, straightforward translation. It means WHY and you use it when you want to ask for a reason.

Just like in the examples below:

🇪🇸 ¿Por qué lo hiciste?
🇬🇧 Why did you do it?

🇪🇸 ¿Por qué están peleando?
🇬🇧 Why are you fighting?

🇪🇸 ¿Por qué no me lo dijiste?
🇬🇧 Why didn’t you tell me?

🇪🇸 ¿Por qué tienes que irte?
🇬🇧 Why do you have to leave?

¿Para qué?

This is where it gets a little tricky. The word qué often makes combinations with different prepositions. ¿PARA QUÉ? – WHAT… FOR? is the first example.

Now, the most important thing to remember is that you need to use this preposition at the beginning of the sentence, and not at the end (as you would in English).

Take a look:

🇪🇸 ¿Para qué lo necesitas?
🇬🇧 What do you need it for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para qué viniste?
🇬🇧 What did you come for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para qué sirve esta cosa?
🇬🇧 What is this thing used for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para qué usaste toda la harina?
🇬🇧 What did you use all the flour for?

¿De qué?

Now you know the drill – this preposition will also stick to the word QUÉ, and it will go right to the beginning of your question.

The only confusing thing might be the fact that it translates in many different ways.

Sometimes the preposition DE will translate as OF, other times as ABOUT, or AT.

Sometimes it won’t translate at all.

Check out these questions:

🇪🇸 ¿De qué está hecha tu falda?
🇬🇧 What is your skirt made of?

🇪🇸 ¿De qué hablaron (ustedes)?
🇬🇧 What did you talk about?

🇪🇸 ¿De qué color es tu coche?
🇬🇧 What color is your car?

🇪🇸 ¿De qué te ríes?
🇬🇧 What are you laughing at?

I can almost hear you say: “How the heck am I going to know all of this?!”

My advice is to make a list of Spanish verbs that are usually accompanied by the preposition DE. Here are a few of them:

🇪🇸 hablar de
🇬🇧 to talk about

🇪🇸 acusar de
🇬🇧 to accuse of

🇪🇸 acordarse de
🇬🇧 to remember (something or someone)

🇪🇸 conversar de
🇬🇧 to talk about

🇪🇸 arrepentirse de
🇬🇧 to regret (something)

🇪🇸 burlarse de
🇬🇧 to make fun of (something or someone)

🇪🇸 sentirse orgulloso de
🇬🇧 to feel proud of

¿En qué?

We’re going to see 2 more examples of how the Spanish question word ¿QUÉ? is paired with a preposition. EN is one of them.

🇪🇸 ¿En qué piensas?
🇬🇧 What are you thinking about?

🇪🇸 ¿En qué te puedo ayudar?
🇬🇧 What can I help you with?

🇪🇸 ¿En qué consiste tu trabajo?
🇬🇧 What does your job consist of?

🇪🇸 ¿En qué te equivocaste?
🇬🇧 What did you make a mistake in?

I know what you are thinking. Again, there is no one, single translation of this question word.

Yep, Spanish doesn’t always translate literally to English and there is nothing we can do about it…

…except memorize the verbs that use the preposition EN.

Like these ones:

🇪🇸 confiar en
🇬🇧 to trust (someone)

🇪🇸 insistir en
🇬🇧 to insist on

🇪🇸 entrar en
🇬🇧 to enter (a place)

🇪🇸 fijarse en
🇬🇧 to notice (something or someone)

🇪🇸 meterse en
🇬🇧 to get into (trouble for instance)

¿A qué?

Another common preposition you can see together with QUÉ is A.

Oftentimes it translates as TO, but sometimes it doesn’t translate at all.

Check out these 5 sample questions:

🇪🇸 ¿A qué te refieres?
🇬🇧 What do you mean?

🇪🇸 ¿A qué te dedicas?
🇬🇧 What do you do for a living?

🇪🇸 ¿A qué se comprometieron (ellos)?
🇬🇧 What did they commit to?

🇪🇸 ¿A qué se debe tu visita?
🇬🇧 What do I owe your visit to?

🇪🇸 ¿A qué jugaron (ustedes)?
🇬🇧 What (game) did you play?

¿Quién?

All the questions we have seen so far were related to things, objects or ideas.

Now it is time to see Spanish question words that we use when we ask about people.

The core word is ¿QUIÉN? which means WHO.

🇪🇸¿Quién es ella?
🇬🇧 Who’s she?

🇪🇸 ¿Quién te dijo eso?
🇬🇧 Who told you that?

🇪🇸 ¿Quién vive en esta casa?
🇬🇧 Who lives in this house?

🇪🇸 ¿Quién está a cargo?
🇬🇧 Who’s in charge?

🇪🇸 ¿Quién falta?
🇬🇧 Who’s missing?

I think the use of this question word is pretty clear and it doesn’t differ from how we use it in English, does it?

Remember – we use QUIÉN when we ask about the subject of a sentence.

¿Por quién?

I’m sure you’ve seen it coming, haven’t you?

Yes, the Spanish question word QUIÉN also makes combinations with different prepositions.

And just like in case of QUÉ, the prepositions stick to the beginning of the question.

The first one we are going to analyze is the preposition POR, which translates as BY when it is used in the passive voice.

🇪🇸 ¿Por quién fue escrito este libro?
🇬🇧 Who was this book written by?

🇪🇸 ¿Por quién es dirigido este equipo?
🇬🇧 Who is this team led by?

Passive voice in Spanish is not used as often as in English, so this kind of questions is not that common.

Instead, you can simply ask:

🇪🇸 ¿Quién escribió este libro?
🇬🇧 Who wrote this book?

🇪🇸 ¿Quién dirige a este equipo?
🇬🇧 Who is the leader of this team?

Yet, keep in mind that POR QUIÉN will not always represent passive voice.

What’s more, POR will not always translate as BY.

🇪🇸 ¿Por quién votaste?
🇬🇧 Who did you vote for?

🇪🇸 ¿Por quién te preocupas tanto?
🇬🇧 Who do you worry so much about?

🇪🇸 ¿Por quién vas a apostar?
🇬🇧 Who are you going to bet on?

In these 3 examples we are not asking about the subject of the sentence, but about its object.

¿Para quién?

If the previous Spanish question word made you a little nervous, this one is going to calm you down, I promise.

¿PARA QUIÉN? simply translates as WHO…FOR?

Take a look:

🇪🇸 ¿Para quién es este regalo?
🇬🇧 Who is this gift for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para quién trabajas?
🇬🇧 Who do you work for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para quién compraste tanta ropa?
🇬🇧 Who did you buy so many clothes for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para quién has escrito esta carta de amor?
🇬🇧 Who did you write this love letter for?

¿De quién?

Ready for some more?

Among common Spanish question words to learn and master, ¿DE QUIÉN? is quite important.

In many cases, it is the equivalent of the English WHOSE? and we use it when we want to know the owner of something, just like in the questions below:

🇪🇸 ¿De quién es esta maleta?
🇬🇧 Whose suitcase is this?

🇪🇸 ¿De quién son estos libros?
🇬🇧 Whose books are these?

Life would be so easy if it was the only way we use ¿DE QUIÉN?, wouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, it has a few other meanings as well.

🇪🇸 ¿De quién te reíste tanto?
🇬🇧 Who did you laugh so hard at?

🇪🇸 ¿De quién se enamoró María?
🇬🇧 Who did María fall in love with?

🇪🇸 ¿De quién cuida tu mamá?
🇬🇧 Who does your mom look after?

Ufff, I know. Learning Spanish can be challenging sometimes.

Remember, Rome was not built in one day, and it takes time to really master a foreign language.

If the question words are beginning to make you dizzy, pick only the basic ones for now and practice them until you feel confident about their use.

Every step counts.

And if you are feeling brave enough, here are some more complex question words in Spanish.

¿Con quién?

Sometimes it can be WHO…WITH.

Like here:

🇪🇸 ¿Con quién te toca trabajar hoy?
🇬🇧 Who are you supposed to work with today?

Other times it translates as WHO…TO.

🇪🇸 ¿Con quién hablaste?
🇬🇧 Who did you talk to?

And there are also times when the preposition CON doesn’t find any translation whatsoever, and the whole question word ¿CON QUIÉN? only means WHO,

🇪🇸 ¿Con quién te vas a reunir?
🇬🇧 Who are you going to meet?

🇪🇸 ¿Con quién se va a casar tu hermana?
🇬🇧 Who is your sister going to marry?

What are some other common Spanish verbs that use the preposition CON, you wonder?

Here is a bunch of them:

🇪🇸 contar con
🇬🇧 count on (someone)

🇪🇸 enfrentarse con
🇬🇧 to face (someone)

🇪🇸 quedarse con
🇬🇧 to stay with (someone)

🇪🇸 confiar en
🇬🇧 to trust (someone)

🇪🇸 encontrarse con
🇬🇧 to meet (someone)

🇪🇸 soñar con
🇬🇧 to dream about (Mr. Right, for instance ;))

¿A quién?

Are you kidding?! There’s more?!

I’m afraid so. But this is the last one with the word ¿QUIÉN?

Check out a few examples:

🇪🇸 ¿A quién estás mirando?
🇬🇧 Who are you looking at?

🇪🇸 ¿A quién despidieron (ellos)?
🇬🇧 Who did they fire?

🇪🇸 ¿A quién invitaste?
🇬🇧 Who did you invite?

🇪🇸 ¿A quién le toca cocinar hoy?
🇬🇧 Whose turn is it to cook today?

Conclusion?

I know. It is hard to even come to a decent conclusion. Way too many possible translations.

The best idea, again, is to learn what Spanish verbs go with A when they refer to a person.

To give you a few ideas:

🇪🇸 llamar a
🇬🇧 to call(someone)

🇪🇸 ayudar a
🇬🇧 to help (someone)

🇪🇸 parecerse a
🇬🇧 to look like (someone)

🇪🇸 amar a / querer a
🇬🇧 to love (someone)

🇪🇸 responder a
🇬🇧 to reply to (someone)

🇪🇸 asistir a
🇬🇧 to attend (someone)

🇪🇸 acercarse a
🇬🇧 to approach (someone)

¿Dónde?

Let’s sail on quiet waters for a while, shall we?

This is an easy one.  ¿DÓNDE? simply means WHERE?

Just like in the questions below:

🇪🇸 ¿Dónde vives?
🇬🇧 Where do you live?

🇪🇸 ¿Donde dejaste la llave?
Where did you leave the key?

🇪🇸 ¿Dónde están mis zapatos?
🇬🇧 Where are my shoes?

🇪🇸 ¿Dónde se conocieron (ustedes)?
🇬🇧 Where did you meet?

¿De dónde?

This Spanish question word is pretty straightforward too. It translates as WHERE…FROM?

Pay attention to how the preposition sticks to the question word again:

🇪🇸 ¿De dónde es usted?
🇬🇧 Where are you from?

🇪🇸 ¿De dónde viene esta encomienda?
🇬🇧 Where does this parcel come from?

🇪🇸 ¿De dónde aparecieron todas estas flores?
🇬🇧 Where did all these flowers come from?

🇪🇸 ¿De dónde vienen (ellos)?
🇬🇧 Where are they coming from?

I am sure that by now you must have gotten a better grip of how it works.

¿Adónde?

This one is easy too. It means WHERE…TO? and is always accompanied by the so-called Verbs of Movement, e.g. to go, to run, to travel, to run, etc.

Take a look:

🇪🇸 ¿Adónde vas?
🇬🇧 Where are you going?

🇪🇸 ¿Adónde viajaste la semana pasada?
🇬🇧 Where did you travel last week?

🇪🇸 ¿Adónde me vas a llevar?
🇬🇧 Where are you taking me?

🇪🇸 ¿Adónde se van a mudar (ustedes)?
🇬🇧 Where are you moving to?

¿Cuándo?

So far so good?

Told ya. Not everything about Spanish is difficult.

This Spanish question word is pretty easy too!

¿CUÁNDO? = WHEN?

just like in the examples below:

🇪🇸 ¿Cuándo llegaste?
🇬🇧 When did you arrive?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuándo naciste?
🇬🇧 Where were you born?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que leíste un libro?
🇬🇧 When did you last read a book?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuándo me vas a visitar?
🇬🇧 When will you visit me?

¿Para cuándo?

We use this Spanish question word when we want to know when something is due. A deadline, a plan, an order, etc.

🇪🇸 ¿Para cuándo es este proyecto?
🇬🇧 When is this project for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para cuando reservaste el vuelo?
🇬🇧 When did you book the flight for?

🇪🇸 ¿Para cuándo estará listo el pedido?
🇬🇧 When will the order be ready?

¿Cuál?

You’ve probably been waiting for this one since the very beginning.

One of the very first questions we learn when we start learning Spanish is:

🇪🇸 ¿Cuál es tu nombre?
🇬🇧 What’s your name?

So simple, yet a little confusing when it comes to the question word itself.

¿CUÁL? is not such an obvious translation to WHAT, is it?

Besides, why do you say: “ ¿Qué es esto?”, but “¿Cuál es tu nombre?”

In general terms, you use QUÉ when you ask about a definition of something and CUÁL when you want to know one of several options, just like in the following examples:

🇪🇸 ¿Cuál es tu color favorito?
🇬🇧 What’s your favorite color?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuál de los dos vestidos prefieres?
🇬🇧 Which of these two dresses do you prefer?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuál pregunta fue la más difícil?
🇬🇧 What was the hardest question?

¿Cuáles?

Remember that sometimes we ask about more than 1 option.

Songs we like.

Movies.

In such cases, we need to pluralize the word ¿CUÁL? and change it to ¿CUÁLES?.

Check out these examples:

🇪🇸 ¿Cuáles son los mejores recuerdos de tu infancia?
🇬🇧 What are your happiest childhood memories?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuáles son los requisitos para entrar a esta universidad?
🇬🇧 What are the requirements to enter this university?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuáles son las 10 películas más vistas de la historia?
🇬🇧 What are the 10 most-watched movies ever?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuáles son las diferencias entre el verbo Ser y Estar?
🇬🇧 What are the differences between the verb Ser and Estar?

¿Cuánto/a?

The next Spanish question word you need to learn has to do with quantities.

When you want to ask HOW MUCH in Spanish, the word you need is ¿CUÁNTO? or ¿CUÁNTA?, depending on whether your object is masculine or feminine.

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánta harina se necesita para hacer un kilo de pan?  (“harina” is feminine)
🇬🇧 How much flour do you need to make 1 kg of bread?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto tiempo duró la película?  (“Tiempo” is masculine)
🇬🇧 How long did the movie last?

When we ask about the amount of money, we stick to the masculine form.

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto pagaste por esta camisa?
🇬🇧 How much did you pay for this shirt?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánto es?
🇬🇧 How much is it?

Pay attention to the last example!

🇪🇸 ¿Cuánta gente hay aquí? 
🇬🇧 How many people are here?

Remember, gente is always singular, hence the singular form of the question word.

¿Cuántos/as?

When you need to ask HOW MANY, you need to use the plural form of CUÁNTO, which is ¿CUÁNTOS? (for masculine) and ¿CUÁNTAS? (for feminine).

🇪🇸 ¿Cuántas personas trabajan en tu empresa? (“personas” is feminine)
🇬🇧 How many people work in your company?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuántos panqueques hiciste? (“panqueques” is masculine)
🇬🇧 How many pancakes did you make?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuántos hijos tienes? (“hijos” is masculine)
🇬🇧 How many children do you have?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuántas amigas invitaste a tu fiesta? (“amigas” is feminine)
🇬🇧 How many friends did you invite to your party?

¿Quán a menudo?

We’re almost there, guys, so stay with me a little longer, will you?

HOW OFTEN is the question word you use in English when you want to know about the frequency of actions.

It’s Spanish equivalent is ¿QUÁN A MENUDO?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuán a menudo vas al gimnasio?
🇬🇧 How often do you go to the gym?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuán a menudo hay que limpiarlo?
🇬🇧 How often do you need to clean it?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuán a menudo me vas a escribir?
🇬🇧 How often will you write to me?

🇪🇸 ¿Cuán a menudo revisas la asistencia?
🇬🇧 How often do you check the attendance ?

¿Qué tan…?

Finally! This is the last one!

Thanks for bearing with me till the end!

¿QUÉ TAN? means HOW and you accompany it with adjectives of quality.

How far = ¿Qué tan lejos?

How big = ¿Qué tan grande?

How fast = ¿Qué tan rápido?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué tan lejos queda Madrid de Barcelona?
🇬🇧 How far is Madrid from Barcelona?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué tan caro es vivir en Buenos Aires?
🇬🇧 How expensive is it to live in Buenos Aires?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué tan buena fue la obra (de teatro)?
🇬🇧 How good was the (theater) play?

🇪🇸 ¿Qué tan importante es este viaje para tí?
🇬🇧 How important is this trip for you?

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Joanna Lupa

Joanna Lupa

Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.