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Old 6th July 2009, 04:12 PM   #1
chismosas
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Default Cuál o Qué

No puedo entender cuándo uso cuál o qué. ¿Puede ayudarme?, por favor.
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Old 6th July 2009, 06:14 PM   #2
Legazpi
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Originally Posted by chismosas View Post
No puedo entender cuándo uso cuál o qué. ¿Puede ayudarme?, por favor.
Generally Cuál is similar to "which" or "who" while qué is similar to "what".

E.g.

Las noticias por las cuales estoy enfadado - the news because of which I am angry
Los amigos con los cuales voy a Barcelona - the friends with whom I am going to Barcelona

However it is confusing because you can also say the same thing using que (without the accent):

Las noticias que me han enfadado - the news that has angered me
Los amigos que van a Barcelona conmigo - the friends that are going to Barcelona with me

It seems from the above that the subjects and objects get swapped around when you change from the cuál construction to the que construction, but that's about as far as my grammar goes on this. Maybe somebody else could clarify this?

Also the Spanish don't necessarily use cuál and qué in the same way as the English use "which" and "what".

E.g. they might ask "¿Cuál es ...?" when asking about something in general, while in English you might ask "What is ...?":

¿Cual es tu nombre? - What is your name?
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Old 7th July 2009, 10:35 AM   #3
gary
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Can "¿Cuál es ...?" be used colloquially to mean "How much" when paying for something?
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Old 7th July 2009, 10:59 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legazpi View Post
Generally Cuál is similar to "which" or "who" while qué is similar to "what".


However it is confusing because you can also say the same thing using que (without the accent):
Different parts of speech

Qué = interrogative adjective
¡Qué! = demonstrative adjective
que = conjunction
¡
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Old 7th July 2009, 05:44 PM   #5
Janna
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gary View Post
Can "¿Cuál es ...?" be used colloquially to mean "How much" when paying for something?

No, I think you're thinking of "Cuanto es?" The way we learned it in my spanish class, you ask that question when you are actually buying something and just want to know how much you owe, and you use "Cuanto cuesta" to gain information to decide if you want to buy.

"Cual" means "which," so your sentence would be "which is it," not "how much is it"
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Old 7th July 2009, 06:13 PM   #6
gary
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Originally Posted by Janna View Post
No, I think you're thinking of "Cuanto es?" The way we learned it in my spanish class, you ask that question when you are actually buying something and just want to know how much you owe, and you use "Cuanto cuesta" to gain information to decide if you want to buy.

"Cual" means "which," so your sentence would be "which is it," not "how much is it"
Yes, I understand that, but lots of things happen betweenthe hasta luego we learn in class and 'talogo we hear on the streets... any native speakers help with this one?
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Old 7th July 2009, 08:51 PM   #7
delgado
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Originally Posted by gary View Post
Yes, I understand that, but lots of things happen betweenthe hasta luego we learn in class and 'talogo we hear on the streets... any native speakers help with this one?
Hi Gary, Obviously (as you know) I´m not Spanish, but I´ve never heard "¿cual es?" used in that way. As far as I know, the only ways to ask the price of something are "¿cuánto cuesta?, ¿cuánto es-son?, ¿cuánto vale-n? or ¿qué vale-n?

With regards to the OP, "cuál" is used when the question refers to several posible options, and "qué" is used when you are talking more generaly..... ¿Cuál es tu coche? (when your in a car park with someone, and want to know which car is theirs) ¿Qué coche tienes? (when you are making small talk with someone, and not refering to a group of cars that are infront of you). This is how I remember it, but as Legazpi says, sometimes the difference in context gets a bit hazy (as in the phrase "cuál es tu nombre", which I consider as an exception to my rule.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by delgado; 7th July 2009 at 09:04 PM. Reason: more info
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Old 7th July 2009, 11:16 PM   #8
nohablo
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I find this brief discussion in ¡Búscalo!: A Quick Reference Guide to Spanish Grammar and Usage to be quite helpful:

Qué translates what and is used in requesting a definition:
¿Qué es usa diéresis? - What is a dieresis?

Cuál may translate what, which, or which one, and is used in the context of selection:
¿Cuál es más barato? - Which one is cheaper?

Qué is often used before nouns. Cuál is not normally used before nouns:
¿Qué cinta prefieres? - What tape do you prefer?
¿Cuál es la cinta que prefieres? - Which is the tape that you prefer?
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Old 8th July 2009, 01:20 PM   #9
fawlty
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You may find this helpful:

Questions beginning with Qué are trying to elicit a definition, whereas questions that begin with Cuál ask the respondent to limit his or her answer to one of a possible many:

eg:

¿Qué es tu nombre? Mi nombre es la palabra que la gente usa cuando me llama.
What is your name? My name is the word people use when they call to me.

¿Cuál es tu nombre? Mi nombre es Juan.
What is your name? (Which is your name from the world of names?) My name is Juan.

To decide whether to use Qué or Cuál:

Generally speaking, Qué will proceed a noun and Cuál will proceed a verb.

Beyond that, ask yourself what it is you want. If you want a definition use Qué. If there are many possible answers and you want to know the true one(s) in a particular situation-that is, the limited answer(s) use Cuál.

Hope this helps.

Incidentally, an excellent text book is 'Practice makes Perfect, Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions' by Dorothy Richmond (ISBN 0-8442-7311-2) and her sister book, 'Spanish Verb [email protected] (ISBN 0-8442-7334-1). Easy to read, with humour and excercises. Currently available for less than £5 each on http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_ss_...chmond&x=0&y=0
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