Cuánto vs Como cuánto?
For the second time in my life as an estudiante de español, I have seen the phrase ¿Como cuánto cobran? in place of simply¿Cuánto cobran?.
Is one wrong? Or is there a subtle difference in meaning?
That is a common expression.
It is not wrong. But, as a native Spanish speaker, I can tell you there's a difference in meaning.
- "Cuánto cobran?" means simply "How much do they charge?"
- "Como cuánto cobran?" would mean something like "Aproximately, how much do they charge?"
You can use the formula in pretty much all questions related to something's value, either monetary or its length in time, also for locations, etc. with the same meaning.
- "Como por dónde vives?" = "Aproximately, where do you live?"
- "Como cuánto es?" = "Aproximately, how much is it?"
- "Como cuánto tiempo dura la película?" = "Aproximately, how long is the film?"
Finally, I've also heard people saying:
- "Como de qué hablas?" = "Like, what are you talking about?"
Hope it helps.
Be careful with abuse of "como". If you use it too much, you could sound like the equivalent to Valleyspeak, common in young women from upper-classes from, at least, Mexico and Chile: "O sea, mi papá es como viejo pero como que le gusta vestirse como joven" (~You know, my dad is like old but it is like he likes to dress like a young one.). In common speech, only the last "como" would be used.