Question Words in Spanish: The Ultimate Guide to Asking Questions in Spanish

¿Qué? Let's learn the question words in Spanish

Whether for philosophical reasons or perhaps because you just need to know where the bathroom is, knowing how to ask questions is a fundamental part of any language. Although Spanish and English share a similar logic when it comes to formulation, Spanish question words have some important details such as accents, plural forms and some particular usages.

In today’s post, we will learn all the question words in Spanish, known as los interrogativos. We’ll begin with a nice list to make things simpler, and, of course, we’ll also see how to use them and in which contexts. As a plus, we will also learn some prepositions that usually go with interrogative words in Spanish, since they can change the nuance of the sentences a bit.

Well, without further ado, let’s begin!

Question Words in Spanish: The Basics

If you want a little grammar wisdom, the right term for question words in Spanish from a grammatical point of view can be interrogative pronouns, adjectives or adverbs. It all depends on whether they replace the subject of the sentence, accompany it, or ask about the quantity or manner in which an action is performed. Let’s take a look at the list of question words in Spanish and their English equivalents.

Los interrogativos Question Words
Quién, Quiénes Who
Qué What, Which
Cuál, Cuáles Which, What
Cuándo When
Dónde Where
Cuánto, Cuánta, Cuántos, Cuántas How many, How much
Por qué Why
Cómo How


Notice that all the interrogative words in Spanish have an accent. The reason for this is to differentiate them from other Spanish words that are spelled the same, but have a different grammatical function.

Another important detail whenever we ask a question with these Spanish question words is that there is always an opening question mark at the beginning of the sentence.

Quién, Quiénes

We use this interrogative word to ask about people’s identity, and its equivalent in English is who. It’s important to note that unlike English, this word has a plural form. Depending on whether we are asking about a single person or two or more people, we use quién or quiénes. Let’s see some examples.

  • Who is your teacher? – ¿Quién es tu profesor?
  • Who wants cake? – ¿Quién quiere pastel?
  • Who are these people? – ¿Quiénes son estas personas?
  • Who are the Nobel prize winners? – ¿Quiénes son los ganadores del premio Nobel?
  • Who is or who are responsible for the accident? – ¿Quién es o quiénes son los responsables del accidente?


If we want to know the identity of something, whether physical or abstract, qué is the right Spanish question word. Its English equivalent is what, although in some cases it is possible to translate it as which depending on the context. We’ll talk a bit more about this in the next section, as it is directly related to the very next interrogative word on our list. Let’s take a look at these examples.

  • What is going on in there? – ¿Qué está pasando ahí?
  • What is a verb? – ¿Qué es un verbo?
  • What does she do in her spare time? – ¿Qué hace ella en su tiempo libre?
  • What happens when we sleep? – ¿Qué pasa cuando dormimos?

Cuál, Cuáles

We use cuál and its plural form cuáles to ask for information about things, similarly to qué. However, we usually use qué when we want definitions or explanations, while cuál and cuáles are used for names or information belonging to a fixed and limited set. Because of this, cuál and cuáles can be translated as what, which, or which one depending on the context. Let’s take a look.

  • What is your name? – ¿Cuál es tu nombre?
  • What are his favorite colors? – ¿Cuáles son sus colores favoritos?
  • Which is Patricia’s house? – ¿Cuál es la casa de Patricia?
  • Which scent is sweeter, vanilla or cinnamon? – ¿Cuál olor es más dulce, la vainilla o la canela?
  • There are many cats here. Which one is yours? – Hay muchos gatos aquí. ¿Cuál es el tuyo?
  • Which ones are half price? – ¿Cuáles están a mitad de precio?


We use cuándo to ask about time, and its English equivalent is when. There is hardly any difficulty with this question word in Spanish, as its use is quite straightforward and similar to the English structure. Let’s take a look at some examples to prove it.

  • When does she arrive? – ¿Cuándo llega?
  • When did you go to Panama? – ¿Cuándo fuiste a Panamá?
  • When are you going to learn, Pablo? – ¿Cuándo vas a aprender, Pablo?
  • When will we know the name of the teacher? – ¿Cuándo sabremos el nombre del profesor?
  • Mom, when will we get a kitten? – Mamá, ¿cuándo tendremos un gatito?


If we want to ask about the place or location of something or someone, we must use dónde. The equivalent in English is where. This one is also quite straightforward and with a similar structure to the English question word, so it shouldn’t be that difficult. Let’s take a look.

  • Where are the bathrooms? – ¿Dónde están los baños?
  • Where have you been? – ¿Dónde has estado?
  • Where is today’s meeting? – ¿Dónde es la reunión de hoy?
  • Where can I learn to dance tango? – ¿Dónde puedo aprender a bailar tango?

Cuánto, Cuántos, Cuánta, Cuántas

As you have already seen, these question words have gender and number variation. This is because they are actually different types of words. They can be interrogative adjectives, pronouns or an interrogative adverb.

As for the translation, these words can translate to how much or how many depending on whether the noun it follows or replaces is countable or uncountable. Let’s see how it works.

If it comes before a noun, it works as an interrogative adjective and, like most adjectives, it must agree in gender and number with the noun it accompanies. Here are some examples.

  • How much money do you need? – ¿Cuánto dinero necesitas?
  • How much water do you need to drink per day? – ¿Cuánta agua necesitas beber al día?
  • How many months did it take you? – ¿Cuántos meses te tardaste?
  • How many songs are on this album? – ¿Cuántas canciones tiene este álbum?

On the other hand, if it is replacing a noun instead of accompanying it, it also varies in gender and number depending on the noun it replaces. Let’s see some examples.

  • Do you want ice? How much? – ¿Quieres hielo? ¿Cuánto?
  • I see you like dogs, how many do you have? – Veo que te gustan los perros, ¿cuántos tienes?
  • The soup has too much salt, how much did you put in it? – La sopa tiene demasiada sal, ¿cuánta le pusiste?
  • I think I can give you some bracelets, how many do you want? – Creo que puedo regalarte algunas pulseras, ¿cuántas quieres?

Finally, the neutral form cuánto is used as an interrogative adverb without variation. We use this form when it refers to a verb and not to a noun, as in the previous cases. Let’s see some examples

  • How much do you love me? – ¿Cuánto me amas?
  • How much does a tiger weigh? – ¿Cuánto pesa un tigre?
  • How much does this watch cost? – ¿Cuánto cuesta este reloj?
  • How much does a broken heart hurt? – ¿Cuánto duele un corazón roto?

Por qué

We use this interrogative in Spanish to ask for reasons and explanations. Just as in English there is the why… because structure, in Spanish there is por qué… porque. Given the similarity between these and other words, it is imperative to remember that this question word must always be separated and with an accent: por qué means why in Spanish, while porque means because in Spanish. For a full explanation on these two words, check out our detailed post on por qué vs porque.

Now it’s time for the examples of questions and answers using both por qué and porque!

  • Why do they want to live in Colombia? Because it’s warmer. – ¿Por qué quieren vivir en Colombia? Porque es más cálido.
  • Why is the sky blue? Just because.  – ¿Por qué el cielo es azul? Porque sí.
  • Why are those children making so much noise? Because they like to play. – ¿Por qué esos niños están haciendo tanto ruido? Porque les gusta jugar.
  • Why doesn’t Juan want to talk to you? Because you’re rude to him. – ¿Por qué Juan no quiere hablarte? Porque eres grosera con él.


This is another one of those straightforward question words in Spanish. We use cómo when we intend to ask about the way or manner in which something happens or is. Its equivalent in English is how. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Hi! How are you doing? – ¡Hola! ¿Cómo te va?
  • How did you do on the test? – ¿Cómo te fue en el examen?
  • How do you like your eggs, boiled or scrambled? – ¿Cómo te gustan los huevos, hervidos o revueltos?
  • How do they run so fast? – ¿Cómo corren tan rápido?

Question Words in Spanish: Adding Prepositions

Just like in English, in some cases it is necessary to add prepositions to expand the meaning of the question word. In this way, interrogative expressions with a particular meaning are formed. In Spanish, prepositions must always precede the question word for the sentence to make sense.

Below is a list of the prepositions that are most commonly combined with question words along with their purpose. Please look to the examples showing each one to make everything clearer.

Preposition, Spanish Translation, English Usage
A To, At Destination, Movement, Introducing complements
Con With Company
De Of, From, About Origin, Possession, Topic
Desde From, Since Spatial or temporal origin
En In, At, About Location, Topic
Hasta To, Until Spatial or temporal ending or destination
Sobre About, On, Above Topic, Position
Para To, For Destination, Purpose, Giving
Por For Reason, Direction

Let’s see some examples:

  • ¿A quién le contaste el secreto? – Who did you tell the secret to? – To whom did you tell the secret?
  • ¿A qué hora cenamos? – What time do we have dinner? – At what time do we have dinner?
  • ¿A cuál país pertenece esta bandera? – Which country does this flag belong to?
  • ¿A dónde vas mañana? – Where are you going [to] tomorrow?
  • ¿Con qué podemos trabajar? – What can we work with?
  • ¿Con quién vas a la fiesta de graduación? – Who are you going to prom with? – With whom are you going to prom?
  • ¿De quién es este suéter? – Whose sweater is this?
  • ¿De quién están hablando? – Who are they talking about?
  • ¿De qué color son sus ojos? – What color are his eyes?
  • ¿De qué trata este libro? – What is this book about?
  • ¿De qué está hecha esta silla? – What is this chair made of?
  • ¿De dónde son tus padres? – Where are your parents from?
  • ¿Desde cuándo te gustan las películas de terror? – Since when do you like horror movies?
  • ¿Desde dónde nos saludas? – Where do you greet us from? – From where do you greet us?
  • ¿En quién estás pensando? – Who are you thinking about?
  • ¿En qué estabas pensando cuando hiciste eso? – What were you thinking about when you did that?
  • ¿En cuál estación caen las hojas? – In which season do the leaves fall?
  • ¿En cuáles estados hay universidades públicas? – In which states are there public universities?
  • ¿En dónde está durmiendo el perro? – Where is the dog sleeping?
  • ¿En cuánto tiempo aprendiste español? – How long did it take you to learn Spanish?
  • ¿En cuánto está el pantalón rojo? – How much are the red pants?
  • ¿En cuántas cuotas puedo pagar la casa? – In how many installments can I pay for the house?
  • ¿Hasta cuándo tendré que esperar? – How long will I have to wait? – Until when will I have to wait?
  • ¿Hasta dónde llega tu avaricia? – How far does your greed go? – Up to where does your greed go?
  • ¿Sobre qué quieres hablar? – What do you want to talk about?
  • ¿Sobre quién estás mintiendo? – Who are you lying about? – About whom are you lying?
  • ¿Para quiénes son los regalos? – Who are the gifts for?
  • ¿Para qué haces eso? – What do you do that for?
  • ¿Para cuándo necesitas el informe? – When do you need the report for? – For when do you need the report?
  • ¿Para dónde viajan en invierno? – Where do they travel to in winter?
  • ¿Para cuántas personas es el pastel? – How many people is the cake for?
  • ¿Por quién irías a la guerra? – Who would you go to war for?
  • ¿Por dónde se llega a Texas? – Which way to get to Texas?
  • ¿Por cuántas chicas has llorado? – How many girls have you cried for?


Well that covers it for the Spanish question words! That wasn’t too complicated, was it?

We started off this post with the list of the question words in Spanish, noting that depending on their function they can be used as adjectives, pronouns or interrogative adverbs. We also saw two fundamental aspects when asking questions in Spanish:

  • Spanish question words must always have an accent.
  • It is necessary to use an opening question mark at the beginning of the sentence.

Then we saw how to use each question word according to what we need to ask. We clarified the use of the interrogative words that change form based on gender and number, specifically quién and quiénes, cuál and cuáles, and cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, and cuántas.

We saw that our Spanish question words can have different grammatical functions depending on how they’re used in a sentence, and that a few of them can therefore have a couple of different translations in English.

Finally, we looked at the prepositions that are often combined with question words in Spanish to create interrogative sentences with a different nuance, along with a list of examples to illustrate each one.

We hope this post helped you learn and understand the Spanish question words and that now you have no trouble asking questions in Spanish. Remember that you can bookmark this post to come back to it whenever you need to. See you next time!


Are you ready to try out what you’ve just learned with all of the question words in Spanish? Why don’t you try practicing a bit! These exercises will help you become more familiar with the structure of Spanish questions.

If you don’t know the vocabulary, no problem. Pay attention to the sentence structure and try to choose the best option from the choices.

1. Estoy cansado. ¿_____ llegaremos al hotel? (dónde / por qué / cuándo)

2. Me gusta tu blusa, ¿_____ la compraste? (dónde / cuál / quiénes)

3. Hay muchos sabores de helado, ¿_____ es tu favorito? (cuáles / por qué / cuál)

4. ¿_____ me gusta José Luis? Pues porque es guapo y amable. (Por qué / A quién / Cuándo)

5. ¡Esto es un desastre! ¿_____ son los responsables? (Quiénes / Quién / Cuánto)

6. ¿_____ cuesta ese vestido? Parece caro. (Cómo / Cuánto / Cuánta)

7. ¿_____ son tus sueños? (Qué / Cuántos / Cuáles)

8. ¿Tú _____ preparas el pollo? Yo siempre lo preparo en estofado. (cómo / cuándo / quién)

9. ¿_____ cosas hay en la maleta? Quiero ver. (Cuántos / Qué / Por qué)

10. ¿_____ estaba llorando Emilia esta mañana? No me ha dicho nada. (Cómo / Por qué / Cuánto)


1. Estoy cansado. ¿Cuándo llegaremos al hotel? – I’m tired. When will we get to the hotel? (cuándo – when)

2. Me gusta tu blusa, ¿dónde la compraste? – I like your blouse, where did you buy it? (dónde – where)

3. Hay muchos sabores de helado, ¿cuál es tu favorito?. – There are many ice cream flavors, which one is your favorite? (cuál – which one)

4. ¿Por qué me gusta José Luis? Pues porque es guapo y amable. – Why do I like José Luis? Well, because he is handsome and kind. (Por qué – Why)

5. ¡Esto es un desastre! ¿Quiénes son los responsables? – This is a disaster! Who are the responsible parties? (Quiénes – Who)

6. ¿Cuánto cuesta ese vestido? Parece caro. – How much does that dress cost? It looks expensive. (Cuánto – How much)

7. ¿Cuáles son tus sueños? – What are your dreams? (Cuáles- What)

8. ¿Tú cómo preparas el pollo? Yo siempre lo preparo en estofado. – How do you prepare chicken? I always prepare it in stew. (cómo – how)

9. ¿Qué cosas hay en la maleta? Quiero ver. – What things are in the suitcase? I want to see. (Qué – What)

10. ¿Por qué estaba llorando Emilia esta mañana? No me ha dicho nada. – Why was Emilia crying this morning? She didn’t tell me anything. (Por qué – Why)

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