Some phrases are constants in our daily vocabulary. “What” surely comes within that category. There’s a valid explanation for this, too. The word “what” serves multiple purposes and can be used in a variety of contexts.
In Spanish, it works exactly the same way! While qué is the standard method to ask “what” in Spanish, there are a few other acceptable variations. In this article, we reveal every way to say “what” in Spanish!
What Can You Say in Spanish and How Many Different Ways There Are to Say It
The question now is, “what” do you say in Spanish? We briefly discussed how qué is typically used to mean “what” in Spanish. Like in English, qué is used to ask questions and express surprise or delight. Take a look at the following illustrations.
Qué vs. que
Now, Spanish has its own unique challenges. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat, and this is one of those instances. If you want to avoid embarrassing mistakes, you should know the distinction between qué and que. You might easily confuse the two based on appearance and sound alone.
In contrast to qué, which signifies “what,” que (without the emphasis) means “that” or “which.” Here’s an example of a sentence that employs both que and qué:
The good news is that they sound identical, so you won’t have to worry about confusing your discussion partner. However, it is inevitable that you may encounter it in your own writing or reading.
The Spanish term cuál can also be used to mean “what.” Although its literal meaning in English is “which,” cuál is sometimes used in place of “what” in informal contexts. As an example, consider the following uses of cuál.
The question then becomes how to choose between cuál and qué. Unfortunately, there isn’t a hard and fast rule. The more you listen to and study Spanish, the more natural the language will sound. The most reliable option is to use qué, the most prevalent form of “what” in Spanish.
The Spanish word for “how” can also be used as a synonym for “what” in certain contexts. Usually, we don’t go to such lengths unless we wish to show our scepticism in a story or an event. Using this form of qué? as a question is actually extremely informal, so please refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary. To illustrate, below are a few cases:
We’ve looked at several possible Spanish “what” translations. You’ve probably noticed by now that this is a word that pops up all the time and in all sorts of talks.
What’s more, you’ve expanded your lexicon by learning the distinction between qué and que, two words that look identical but have different meanings depending on the context.