In the previous lesson, we learned how to ask simple YES/NO questions and their punctuation. They are very important, but when we need to ask for information in Spanish, we will need more than a “SI” or a “NO”. In this lesson, we will cover a list of Spanish question words through several examples of questions about specific information such as occupations, age, feelings and more. Comencemos…
Vocabulary Introduction: A list of Spanish question words
Spanish information questions or “Interrogaciones parciales” are a special type of questions because we need more than a simple SI/NO answer. In order to get information, e.g. where places are or what types of food a restaurant offers, we need to use Spanish question words such as: CÓMO (How), CUÁNDO (When), POR QUÉ (Why), DÓNDE (Where), CUÁL (Which), QUÉ (What), CUÁNTOS (how many) and others. The words in red in the questions in the picture below are Spanish question words (check their meaning on the right).
How to form Spanish questions and use the right punctuation
How to form questions in Spanish
There is not a special order for questions in Spanish. Actually, they are just sentences with question marks and perhaps a question word. This means that to make a sentence like “El carro es nuevo” a question, then all we have to do is add Spanish question marks or words if needed, e.g. “¿El carro es nuevo?”. Question words in Spanish will be placed just before the subject.
Spanish question word + Subject (optional) + conjugated verb + content of our question
Regarding the answers for information questions, you should use the main verb in the question to answer. Also, for questions beginning with “which one”, use “Cuál” and answer with “El/La + adjective”, e.g. ¿Cuál te gusta más? – El rojo. One more thing before moving on to the audio examples, “whose” in Spanish will be represented by “De quién..” using the preposition DE before the question word QUÉ.
Punctuation in Spanish questions
Notice that all Spanish questions beginning with the equivalent Wh- words in Spanish need tilde over one of the vowels, just like “Qué” or “Cómo”. When they are not written with tilde, then they will be considered a part of the statement instead, e.g. “Tengo que limpiar” (I have to clean) and “Recuerda que hoy es mi cumpleaños” (Remember that today is my birthday).
Remember that all questions in the language must begin with an inverted question mark and finish with a normal one. Also, you will notice that punctuation is different in two words “Por qué” and “Porque”. The first is only used to ask WHY in Spanish, whereas the second will be used meaning BECAUSE, without tilde.
Basic Spanish questions and answers about specific information
It is time to see how Spanish question words are really used to get specific information. The chart below includes a list of basic Spanish questions and answers. They are about jobs, names, age and other important things. You can see more of these types of questions in other lessons in the site. Also, pay attention to the structure used to form these questions and the punctuation rules explained above.
¿Qué haces? / ¿En qué trabajas? – Soy doctor
What do you do?
¿Dónde lo encontraste? – Lo encontré en la sala
Where did you find it?
¿Cuál es tu nombre?/ ¿Cómo te llamas? – Me llamo Tommy
What is your name? – My name is Tommy
¿Cuál prefieres tú? – Yo prefiero el rojo
Which one do you prefer? – I prefer the red one
¿Cuántos años tienes? – Tengo 20 años
How old are you? – I am 20 years old
¿Cómo te sientes hoy? – Me siento bien
How do you feel today?
¿Cuántos hijos tienes? – Tengo 3 hijos
How many children do you have?
¿De quién es este libro? – Este libro es de ella
Whose is this book? – This book is hers
¿Quién va a ayudarte? – Mi amiga va a ayudarme
Who is going to help you? – My friend is going to help me
¿Por qué estás haciendo eso? – Porque es parte de mi tarea
Why are you doing that? – Because it is part of my homework