There are three main ways of asking questions in Spanish:
Asking questions in Spanish - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish
- by making your voice go up at the end of the sentence
- by changing normal word order
- by using a question word
TipDon’t forget the opening question mark in Spanish. It goes at the beginning of the question or of the question part of the sentence.
|¿No quieres tomar algo?||Wouldn’t you like something to eat or drink?|
|Eres inglés, ¿verdad?||You’re English, aren’t you?|
1 Asking a question by making your voice go up
- If you are expecting the answer yes or no, there is a very simple way of asking a question. You keep the word order exactly as it would be in a normal sentence but you turn it into a question by making your voice go up at the end.
|¿Hablas español?||Do you speak Spanish?|
|¿Es profesor?||Is he a teacher?|
|¿Hay leche?||Is there any milk?|
|¿Te gusta la música?||Do you like music?|
- When the subject (the person or thing doing the action) of the verb is a noun, pronoun or name it can be given before the verb, just as in an ordinary sentence. But you turn the statement into a question by making your voice go up at the end.
|¿Tu hermana ha comprado pan?||Did your sister buy any bread?|
|¿Tú lo has hecho?||Did you do it?|
|¿Tu padre te ha visto?||Did your father see you?|
|¿El diccionario está aquí?||Is the dictionary here?|
2 Asking a question by changing word order
- When the subject of the verb is specified, another even more common way of asking questions is to change the word order so that the verb comes BEFORE the subject instead of after it.
|¿Lo has hecho tú?||Did you do it?|
|¿Te ha visto tu padre?||Did your father see you?|
|¿Está el diccionario aquí?||Is the dictionary here?|
- Note that the position of object pronouns is not affected.
- For more information on Word order with object pronouns, see Personal pronouns: direct object, Personal pronouns: indirect object and Order of object pronouns.
Grammar Extra!If the verb has an object, such as any bread in Did your sister buy any bread?, the subject usually comes AFTER the object, provided the object is short.
If the object is made up of several words, the subject goes BEFORE it.
When there is an adverbial phrase (to the party, in Barcelona) after the verb, the subject can go BEFORE OR AFTER the adverbial phrase.
|¿Ha compado pan tu hermana?||Did your sister buy any bread?|
|¿Vio la película tu novio?||Did your boyfriend see the film?|
|Se han comprado tus padres aquella casa de que me hablaste?||Have your parents bought that house you told me about?|
|¿Viene a la fiesta Andrés? or|
¿Viene Andrés a la fiesta?
|Is Andrés coming to the party?|
3 Asking a question by using a question word
- Question words are words like when, what, who, which, where and how that are used to ask for information. In Spanish, all question words have an accent on them.
|¿adónde?||where ... to?|
|¿para qué?||what for?|
TipBe careful not to mix up por qué (meaning why) with porque (meaning because).
|¿Cuándo se fue?||When did he go?|
|¿Qué te pasa?||What’s the matter?|
|¿Qué chaqueta te vas a poner?||Which jacket are you going to wear?|
|¿Cuál de los dos quieres?||Which do you want?|
|¿Cuánto azúcar quieres?||How much sugar do you want?|
|¿Cuánto tiempo llevas esperando?||How long have you been waiting?|
- For more information on question words, see Interrogative adjectives on Interrogative adjectives and Interrogative pronouns on Interrogative pronouns.
- When the question starts with a question word that isn’t the subject of the verb, the noun or pronoun (if given) that is the subject of the verb goes AFTER it.
|¿De qué color es la moqueta?||What colour’s the carpet?|
|¿A qué hora comienza el concierto?||What time does the concert start?|
|¿Dónde están tus pantalones?||Where are your trousers?|
|¿Adónde iba tu padre?||Where was your father going?|
|¿Cómo están tus padres?||How are your parents?|
|¿Cuándo volverán ustedes?||When will you come back?|
4 Which question word to use?
- qué or cuál or cuáles can be used to mean which:
- always use qué before a noun
|¿Qué chaqueta te vas a poner?||Which jacket are you going to wear?|
- otherwise use cuál (singular) or cuáles (plural)
|¿Cuál quieres?||Which (one) do you want?|
|¿Cuáles quieres?||Which (ones) do you want?|
- quién or quiénes can be used to mean who:
- use quién when asking about one person
|¿Quién ganó?||Who won?|
- use quiénes when asking about more than one person
|¿Quiénes estaban?||Who was there?|
- Note that you need to put the personal a before quién and quiénes when it acts as an object.
|¿A quién viste?||Who did you see?|
- For more information on Personal a, see Prepositions.
- de quién or de quiénes can be used to mean whose:
- use de quién when there is likely to be one owner
|¿De quién es este abrigo?||Whose coat is this?|
- use de quiénes when there is likely to be more than one owner
|¿De quiénes son estos abrigos?||Whose coats are these?|
- Note that the structure in Spanish is the equivalent of Whose is this coat?/Whose are these coats? Don’t try putting ¿de quién? or ¿de quiénes? immediately before a noun.
- qué, cómo, cuál and cuáles can all be used to mean what although qué is the most common translation:
- use cómo or qué when asking someone to repeat something that you didn’t hear properly
|¿Cómo or Qué (has dicho)?||What (did you say)?|
- use ¿cuál es ... ? and ¿cuáles son ... ? to mean what is ... ? and what/are ... ? when you aren’t asking for a definition
|¿Cuál es la capital de Francia?||What’s the capital of France?|
|¿Cuál es su número de teléfono?||What’s his telephone number?|
- use ¿qué es ... ? and ¿qué son ... ? to mean what is ... ? and what are ... ? when you are asking for a definition
|¿Qué son los genes?||What are genes?|
- always use qué to mean what before another noun
|¿Qué hora es?||What time is it?|
|¿Qué asignaturas estudias?||What subjects are you studying?|
TipYou can finish an English question (or sentence) with a preposition such as about, for example, Who did you write to?; What are you talking about? You can NEVER end a Spanish question or sentence with a preposition.
|¿Con quién hablaste?||Who did you speak to?|
Grammar Extra!All the questions we have looked at so far have been straight questions, otherwise known as direct questions. However, sometimes instead of asking directly, for example, Where is it? or Why did you do it?, we ask the question in a more roundabout way, for example, Can you tell me where it is? or Please tell me why you did it. These are called indirect questions.In indirect questions in English we say where it is instead of where is it and why you did it instead of why did you do it, but in Spanish you still put the subject AFTER the verb.
The subject also goes AFTER the verb in Spanish when you report a question in indirect speech.
|¿Sabes adónde iba tu padre?||Do you know where your father was going?|
|¿Puedes decirme para qué sirven los diccionarios?||Can you tell me what dictionaries are for?|
|Quería saber adónde iba mi padre.||He wanted to know where my father was going.|
- Note that you still put accents on question words in Spanish even when they are in indirect and reported questions or when they come after expressions of uncertainty:
|No sé qué hacer.||I don’t know what to do.|
|No sabemos por qué se fue.||We don’t know why he left.|
5 Negative questions
- When you want to make a negative question, put no before the verb in the same way that you do in statements (non-questions).
|¿No vienes?||Aren’t you coming?|
|¿No lo has visto?||Didn’t you see it?|
- You can also use o no at the end of a question in the same way that we can ask or not in English.
|¿Vienes o no?||Are you coming or not?|
|¿Lo quieres o no?||Do you want it or not?|
6 Short questions
- In English we sometimes check whether our facts and beliefs are correct by putting isn’t it?, don’t they?, are they? and so on at the end of a comment. In Spanish, you can add ¿verdad? in the same way.
|Hace calor, ¿verdad?||It’s hot, isn’t it?|
|Te gusta, ¿verdad?||You like it, don’t you?|
|No te olvidarás, ¿verdad?||You won’t forget, will you?|
|No vino, ¿verdad?||He didn’t come, did he?|
- You can also use ¿no?, especially after positive comments.
|Hace calor, ¿no?||It’s hot, isn’t it?|
|Te gusta, ¿no?||You like it, don’t you?|
7 Answering questions
- To answer a question which requires a yes or no answer, just use sí or no.
|¿Te gusta? – Sí/No.||Do you like it? – Yes, I do/No, I don’t.|
|¿Está aquí? – Sí/No.||Is he here? – Yes he is/No, he isn’t.|
|¿Tienes prisa? – Sí/No.||Are you in a hurry? – Yes, I am/No, I’m not.|
|No lo has hecho, ¿verdad? – Sí/No.||You haven’t done it, have you? – Yes, I have/No, I haven’t.|
- You can also often answer sí or no followed by the verb in question. In negative answers this may mean that you say no twice.
|Quieres acompañarme? – Sí, quiero.||Would you like to come with me? – Yes, I would.|
|¿Vas a ir a la fiesta? – No, no voy.||Are you going to the party? – No, I’m not.|
- You ask a question in Spanish by making your voice go up at the end of the sentence, by changing normal word order, and by using question words.
- Question words always have an accent on them.
- To make a negative question, add no before the verb.
- You can add ¿verdad? to check whether your facts or beliefs are correct.