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In general, use qué when asking for a definition, or when there are few or no restrictions on what the answer might be. (¿Qué onda? What's up?)
Use cuál when there's a restricted pool of possible answers to choose from. (¿Cuál es tu numero? What's your number?)
This also includes the sense of cuál meaning "which". (¿Cuáles de los gatos son tuyos? Which of the cats are yours?)
I hope this helps.
I think it would be more helpful to restrict it just to this type of questions:
"¿Qué es...?" is used if you want a definition.
"¿Cuál es...?" is used if you want an answer.
- ¿Qué es un problema? - What is a problem?
- ¿Cuál es el problema? - What is the problem?
When you start using a different verb or other words after cuál or qué, the meanings change accordingly
First, realize that there is a difference between "que" and "qué". "Qué" means "what". "Que" means "that," and it is used to begin a subordinate clause.
Example: ¿Pensás que habrá algunos insectos? Do you think that there will be any insects.
Second, realize that there is a difference between "cómo" and "como".
"Como" means "like", "as", "similar to", or "such as".
"Cómo" means "how" or "why", or "come again" (what did you say?, come again). ("¿Cómo? Yo te no oigo," What? I don't hear you.)
Now the difference between "qué" and "cómo."
Both "qué" and "cómo" are "question words" aka "interrogatives" (these specifically are "interrogative pronouns".
"Que" (that) is a relative pronoun, or a conjunction.
"Cómo", as an interrogative, means "how" or "why".
This may be helpful. https://www.realfastspanish.com/vocabulary/que-vs-cual
Thanks. Didn't help me a lot though. It says use 'que' for a general broad understanding and use 'cual' for a specific answer from amongst a 'family' or 'subset' of choices. However, when appropriately saying 'Cual es tu nombre', one's name doesn't have a 'family' or 'subset' so the rule doesn't make sense. A name literally can be anything. There are also many examples of using 'que'' when asking for a specific answer. Perhaps the most helpful answer might be what RyagonIV says above.
I think ur right. but in some cases like "el aula" el is used even though the word is feminine and u would say las aulas.
"What is the problem" is an open-ended question, with many possible answers. "Which is the problem" assumes a limited number of answers. This distinction is the same in Spanish.
So, NO, it should not be accepted.
Note that RagonIV gave context, and correctly used "which."
Which idea is the problem. Qué idea es el problema
There must be at least 20 instances of one person asking why el problema and not la problema and another person explaining why. We might want to start politely and gently reminding people that they should read what's already posted to avoid asking questions that have already been answered.
Hmm, let's see.
Cuánto (how many) describes the cuantity.
Cuál (which/what) describes the cuality.
Quién (who) asks for the Queen and all her subjects.
Qué (what) is for Quéstions in general.
Cómo (how) is a bit like "How come?"
And for cuándo I only have this classic.
Also remember that 'qu' can only precede 'e' and 'i' in Spanish. For all other vowels you have to use 'c' or 'cu'.
This has already been answered several times. Take a look at the rest of the thread. :-)
Friendly reminder to all: on this forum or on any similar forum, you should look over the discussion and see if your question has already been answered. If you ask a question that's already been asked and answered many times, you're just adding to the noise. I just did a quick skim of this thread and counted 32 other instances of people asking the same question. Many had good answers as replies, and many also had reminders to look at the rest of the thread.
Sometimes I wonder if I have other version of Duolingo and other people just don't see the comments, or maybe I'm just hallucinating and all those comments asking the very same thing don't exist?...
Problema is not a feminine (aka 'female') word. It's masculine. It just ends with a, like el mapa or el día. If you want more details, please check one of the other comments - but beware, you will need to dig through a thousand 'why it's el' comments first before you find the original ones.
Because 'problema' is a masculine noun, it requires the masculine article 'el'. While 'problema' ends in 'a', it does not follow the usual feminine treatment of most Spanish words ending in 'a'. It is one of the exceptions. The reason for this is that it inherited its gender from the Greek word for problem, which was masculine and is where problema comes from in Spanish.
Ryagon, since high school Spanish I've always wondered why 'Cual' also means 'What'. I don't expect to change the Spanish language, but I don't understand why it sometimes means 'what' when it normally is supposed to mean 'which'. To me - a native English speaker - 'which' and 'what' are completely different words, but it appears that in Spanish - if not also in many of the romantic languages - they can mean the same thing? Is it just that 'Qual' is conditional depending on the need? And...if it is conditional, why not just use 'What', or rather 'Que"? Using this sentence as a specific example, there is no choice for the answer (i.e. What is the problem), and Cual implies there is a choice (e.g. which of these two colors do you like). Instead this is an open ended question (i.e. no choice). Do you have any insights why Cual is still used this way?
Jerry, the distinction between "which" and "what" in English is pretty simple: "which" is used if you're choosing something from a specific list, and "what" is used for more open-ended replies. "What is your favourite animal?" versus "Which (of these animals) do you like the most?"
Spanish makes a different distinction between qué and cuál that doesn't have anything to do with lists, at least not that directly. I'm not entirely sure if there is one single thing that distinguishes all the qués from the cuáls (maybe I'll find that out while writing this comment). But for learning purposes I think it's the most convenient to look at the general form of the questions:
¿Qué es ...? - If qué is followed by a form of the verb ser, we're looking for a more general definition or explanation. For example:
- ¿Qué es una tortilla? - What is a tortilla?
- ¿Qué fue eso? - What was that?
¿Cuál es ...? - When cuál is followed by a form of ser, we want a specific answer pertaining a specific object:
- ¿Cuál es tu dirección? - What is your address?
- ¿Cuáles serán las mejores opciones? - What will the best options be?
¿Qué hace ...? - If qué is followed by any verb other than ser, it will translate as "what" in English, asking for an answer without being restricted to a specific list of options:
- ¿Qué quieres comprar? - What do you want to buy?
- ¿Qué ven tus ojos de elfo? - What do your elf eyes see?
¿Cuál hace ...? - Similarly, if cuál is followed by a verb other than ser, it will translate as "which" in English, referring to a specific choice:
- ¿Cuál quieres comprar? - Which one do you want to buy?
- ¿Pero cuál tiene el veneno? - But which one contains the poison?
¿Qué objeto ...? - If you want to say "which [thing]" or "what [thing]", you should use qué:
- ¿Qué animal hace este sonido? - Which animal makes this sound?
- ¿Qué color te gustaría? - What colour would you like?
(You can also find cuál in this meaning, especially in parts of Latin America, but that's often regarded as informal.)
¿Qué tan bueno ...? - The question word qué can also be used together with tan and an adjective to ask about the degree of some quality, i.e. "how [adjective]" something is:
- ¿Qué tan alta eres? - How tall are you?
- ¿Qué tan lejos está la escuela? - How far away is the school?
You can read this things in a bit more detail in this scrumptious article as well.
In summary, cuál seems to be used if you can pinpoint or identify a specific thing you're talking about, and it is only used as a pronoun, i.e. it must be directly followed by a verb. Qué has a more general application.
Read RaygonV explanation above, which starts "Jerry, the distinction between "which" and "what" in English is pretty simple: "which" is used if you're choosing something from a specific list, and "what" is used for more open-ended replies. "What is your favourite animal?" versus "Which (of these animals) do you like the most?"
Spanish makes a different distinction between qué and cuál that doesn't ... "
Distinction = a difference or contrast between similar things. In this case the distinction between 'what' and 'which' in English versus 'Que' and 'Cual' in Spanish. Specifically, 'what' is not always translated to 'que' in Spanish and doing so will sometimes leave the Spanish listener a little confused.