Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, Premium 3rd Edition (2016)


Chapter 2. Interrogative pronouns


The interrogative pronoun is used to ask a specific type of question. The answer sought is a noun or pronoun (naming either a person or a thing): “Who is in the soundproof booth?” “To whom did you send the poison pen letter?” “Whose dog did this?” “What is this?” “Which do you prefer?”


In Spanish, ¿Qué? often precedes a noun, and ¿Cuál? often precedes a verb or a prepositional phrase. Note that all Spanish interrogative pronouns, with the exception of ¿Qué?, have both a singular and a plural form. The verb must agree in number with this form.

Who? ¿Quién? ¿Quiénes?

When your question is about people, and the answer you seek involves a name or names, you ask “Who?”, as in “Who has the cat? John has the cat.” (“John” is the subject of the answer.) In these cases, in Spanish, use ¿Quién? (or ¿Quiénes? when you are seeking the names of two or more people).

Singular subject


Plural subject


With ser [sing.]


With ser [pl.]



Traducción Translate the following questions into Spanish.

  1Who is she? _________________________________________

  2Who are they [m.]? _________________________________________

  3Who are you [sing.]? _________________________________________

  4Who am I? _________________________________________

  5Who works here? _________________________________________

  6Who watches television? _________________________________________

  7Who speaks Spanish here? _________________________________________

  8Who doesn’t live here? _________________________________________

  9Who writes the book? _________________________________________

10Who is your friend? _________________________________________

Whom? ¿A quién? ¿A quiénes?

To ask the name of a person who is the recipient of an action (as the direct object of the verb), use “Whom?”, as in the sentence “Whom do you love?” The personal a must be included before the interrogative pronoun ¿quién? (or ¿quiénes? if you suspect that the answer involves more than one name).


Note that the structure for use of the interrogative pronoun is parallel to that of the answer, where the a in the sentence Veo a Pedro Morales is the personal a.

To ask the name of a person who is the indirect recipient of an action (expressed as the object of a preposition), use the preposition a (“to”), as in the sentence “To whom are you writing?” The preposition a (“to”) must be included before the interrogative pronoun ¿quién? (or ¿quiénes?).


The structure for use of the interrogative pronoun is parallel to that of the answer here as well, because the a in the sentence Escribo a Pedro y a Manolo represents the English preposition “to.”

NOTE The personal a is not used with the verbs serestar, and tener.


Traducción For the following translations, use the second-person singular form of the present tense verb.

  1Whom [sing.] do you love? _________________________________

  2Whom [sing.] do you see (ver)? _________________________________

  3Whom [sing.] are you watching (mirar)? _________________________________

  4Whom [pl.] are you watching? _________________________________

  5For whom [sing.] are you looking (buscar)? _________________________________

  6For whom [pl.] are you looking? _________________________________

  7To whom [sing.] do you listen? _________________________________

  8To whom [pl.] do you listen? _________________________________

  9Whom [sing.] do you know (conocer)? _________________________________

10Whom [pl.] do you know? _________________________________

Whose? ¿De quién? ¿De quiénes?

In English, to identify the owner of something, you ask “Whose?” In Spanish, use the phrase ¿De quién? (or ¿De quiénes? if you think that the answer involves more than one name). In simple questions, the phrase—usually followed by a form of ser—is uncomplicated.


However, the use of the phrase does not translate directly in more complicated questions, and it is necessary to rephrase the question. For example, “Whose grandmother lives here?” becomes ¿De quién es la abuela que vive aquí?(literally, “Of whom is the grandmother that lives here?”).



Traducción Translate each of the following questions from English to Spanish, using singular interrogative pronouns unless otherwise indicated. The Spanish syntax is given in parentheses after the question.

  1Whose car is this? (Of whom is this car?)


  2Whose keys (la llave) are on the table? (Of whom are the keys that are on the table?)


  3Whose [pl.] cars are dirty? (Of whom are the cars that are dirty?)


  4Whose [pl.] children [f.] are reading these books? (Of whom are the children that are reading these books?)


  5Whose cat is drinking (beber) the milk? (Of whom is the cat that is drinking the milk?)


  6Whose neighbors (el vecino) live in the blue house? (Of whom are the neighbors that live in the blue house?)


  7Whose [pl.] students are the most intelligent? (Of whom are the most intelligent students?)


  8Whose car doesn’t run (funcionar)? (Of whom is the car that doesn’t run?)


  9Whose coat is this? (Of whom is this coat?)


10Whose parrot (el loro) speaks Italian? (Of whom is the parrot that speaks Italian?)


11Whose [pl.] CDs (el disco compacto) are these? (Of whom are these CDs?)


12Whose backpack (la mochila) is that? (Of whom is that backpack?)


For discussion of another use of “whose,” see Chapter 8.

Which? ¿Qué? ¿Cuál? ¿Cuáles?

To limit a group of items or to ask someone to choose from among a number of items, you use “Which?” or “What?” in your question. In English, “Which?” generally precedes a noun (“Which cookbook do you want?”), while the limiting “What?” usually precedes a verb (“What is the best cookbook for breads?”).

In Spanish, the opposite is often true. If the interrogative pronoun is followed by a noun, use ¿Qué? If the interrogative pronoun is followed by a verb or a prepositional phrase, use ¿Cuál? or ¿Cuáles? In the context of ¿Cuál?+ VERB, ¿Cuál? usually means “Which one?”



Traducción Translate the following questions. Use the second-person singular Spanish form for English you.

  1Which book is more (más) interesting? __________________________________________

  2Which actor is more popular? __________________________________________

  3Which girl (la chica) is your cousin? __________________________________________

  4Which food has more fat (la grasa)? __________________________________________

  5Which store sells more clothing? __________________________________________

  6Which do you eat more, chicken (el pollo) or fish (el pescado)? __________________________________________

  7Which is more popular? __________________________________________

  8Which ones do you wear more? __________________________________________

  9Which shoes do you wear more? __________________________________________

10Which hat is more comfortable (cómodo)? __________________________________________

11Which of the hats is more comfortable? __________________________________________

12Which program (el programa) do you watch? __________________________________________

13Which [pl.] of the new programs do you watch? __________________________________________

14Which ones do you watch? __________________________________________

¿Qué? vs. ¿Cuál?

Whether to use ¿Qué? or ¿Cuál? in Spanish questions confounds many speakers of English. In a nutshell, questions beginning with ¿Qué? ask for a definition, whereas questions that begin with ¿Cuál? ask the respondent to limit his or her answer to one of many possibilities. Consider the following questions and their literal implications as displayed in the answers:


As you can see, ¿Qué? requests a literal answer, and ¿Cuál? asks for a selection from a large pool of possible answers.

To determine whether to use ¿Qué? or ¿Cuál?, consider the following:

♦   Generally speaking, ¿Qué? precedes a noun and ¿Cuál? precedes a verb.

♦   If you want a definition, use ¿Qué?

♦   If there are many possible answers and you want to know the correct answer in a particular situation—that is, the limited answer—use ¿Cuál?


Mark whether you would use ¿Qué? or ¿Cuál? in the following questions. Then translate the questions. Use the second-person singular Spanish form for English you.