What is what?

What is what?  Unlike English, “what” cannot be translated into an all purpose word in Spanish.  It all depends on what kind of what you’re talking about, and qué is not an all purpose what. Here’s a quick recap of the various differences.  What – meaning a definition:  ¿Qué es un puente?  Un puente es una construcción que cruza los dos lados de un río y que se usa para el transporte.  What – meaning which of many possibilities:  ¿Cuál es su apellido?   ¿Cuál es el número?      Special note here.  When the “selection” word is used in combination with a noun, you use qué instead of cuál:  ¿Qué número tiene?  ¿Qué apellido es el más famoso?  What – meaning that which:  Lo que es muy importante es la calidad del programa.  Lo que más me gusta es bailar.  Lo que necesito es más tiempo y más dinero.  What – meaning what did you say:  This can have various forms, but the most universally used one is ¿Cómo?  It’s like saying how did you mean that?  What – meaning what something is like:  ¿Cómo es la novia de Pablo?  What’s Paul’s girlfriend like?  Qué- when it doesn’t mean what, but how:  ¡Qué bonito!  ¡Qué guapo!  ¡Qué rico!  Qué – when it doesn’t mean what, but how far: ¿ A qué distancia está la casa de la escuela?  How far is the house from the school?  Que – when it means who:  El hombre que vive aquí es español.  The man who lives here is Spanish.  Qué – to mean you’re welcome:  No hay de qué.  Que – to mean have a nice day when you’re the one leaving:  Que le vaya bien.  With a good friend:  Que te vaya bien.  It’s like may it (things) go well with you, the equivalent of the English have a nice day.  There are many other times when que (without an accent) is used in idioms:  Hay que hacerlo.  One must do it.    Tengo que aprender más español.  I have to learn more Spanish.  Es imposible que él lo haga.  It’s impossible for him to do it.  Tengo más libros que tú.  I have more books than you.  But be careful with the next one.  Tengo más de cuatrocientos libros.  I have more than 400 books.  Notice the de when it’s in front of a specific number.


Author: language_link

Language Link is a leader in Spanish language immersion programs in countries throughout Latin America and Spain. Learn the language, live the culture! Travel to our school locations and experience the language and culture around the clock. From international executives to students of all ages, allow Language Link to assist you in making the right choice for learning Spanish through an in-country immersion program. We will help you plan your study trip from a one week stay up to six months. Our 25+ years of experience have placed thousands of delighted Spanish language students, and our knowledgeable staff will help you take the guess work out of finding the program best suited for you. Language Link gives you a safe and reliable way to arrange your Spanish study adventure. Through us you have the security of a professionally recognized U.S. contact.

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