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
couldn't "¿Qué es el problema?" translate as "What is the problem like?"
Good answer, but there are few or no restrictions on what the problem could be.
what is the difference between que and como
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".
Qué is just used as an interjection, like you would use "how" in those situations in English: "How beautiful" or "How great".
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.
Several words that end in -ma (and come from Greek) are masculine: el problema, el poema, el idioma, el drama, el trauma, el programa, el tema, el sistema, el clima, and many more.
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.
That happens only if the beginning 'a' of the noun is stressed. So you have "el aula" and "el agua", but it's still "la agente" or "la arena".
Ramon, Spanish is challenging, but so are all Romance languages. Keep practicing. :)
Actually the "el" here is the article, not the noun, and I don't see how it would even make sens if it were "he".
It's not a likely sentence, but sure, it's a possible translation.
"Which is the problem, the food industry or your eating habits?"
"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."
I'm not sure what you mean by "This distinction is the same in Spanish." "¿Cuál es el problema?" is the only way this sentence can be expressed, and, depending on context, it can translate to both "What is the problem?" and "Which (one) is the problem?"
If you want somebody to bore you to tears with the saga of their ingrowing toenail.
Not as a translation here, since there is no indication whom or what the problem is associated with. But in Spanish you can easily say "¿Cuál es tu problema?"
Yes. I translated it to "What is your problem?" and Duo marked it correct. 3-6-2019
Problema is a noun that originated in Ancient Greek, where it was of neutral gender. While transferring to Spanish, it kept its form, but all neutral nouns became masculine.
"Problemo" is not a Spanish word, even if media wants you to believe that. :)
There are so many translations for "what" me español like I can not keep up. comprende?
I wrote "what is the problem?" and it marked it wrong because I didn't use the contraction of what's -_-
That is odd; I wrote "What is the problem?" and it was accepted properly Nov.8, 2018. Perhaps something else was misspelled, or "the problem" has been corrected. ;-)
How to remember the Spanish of what, which, who, when? Any shortcut trick for remembering these?
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'.
Problema is a masculine noun. It was originally neuter in Greek and in Latin, and all Latin neuter nouns became masculine in Spanish.
I have seen por que translate as why? (Excuse the missing accent). When is that apprpriate?
Is there any context to this question? The phrase "por qué" just translates to "why" in English. More literally it's "for what (reason)".
I am more concerned about the use of el instead of la for problema. I thought feminine use "a" instead of the masculine "o"
That is true for most nouns, but not for all. Problema, specifically, originated from a Greek neutral gender word. It kept the -a ending through the ages, but the neutral gender went away and was replaced by the masculine gender when Spanish developed. There are a couple dozen of those, mostly ending in '-ma' or '-ta': el problema, tema, idioma, drama, atleta, pacifista, mapa, and so on.
Problema is a masculine noun. Articles and adjectives care about the gender of the noun, not how it ends.
Problema is a masculine noun, despite its looks. There are a number of them, mostly ending on -ma or -ta, that derive from Ancient Greek neutral nouns and are all masculine now.
The problema sounds as though they're saying 'troblema' Is it meant to be pronounced this way or is this a fault in the audio?
I can only listen to the woman, and she pronounces it well.
The issue might be that microphones are sometimes a bit odd with picking up plosive sounds (p, t, k), so they might all sound the same in a recording.
I think it's just which voice is comfortable for you. It's easier for me to undersfand the male voice. Also, the sound is more clear on some lessns than others.
Duolingo generally has issues with recognising contractions that are not with a personal pronoun. It can recognise "he's", but not "what's" or "where's" or similar.
You're aksing about an identity here, about the nature of the problem. Identities use the verb ser, not estar.
I did put 'el probleme' as got confused about the m/f thing and it was accepted. After reading through the posts i know realise it is male and words ending ma are from the Greek language and are male. Thank you for the explanation
Ok,...i was just instructed, by this board of you fine helpers, that anything ending with the "a" is feminine ie; "cartera, esta is used, not este". Why is "el" used for the word "problema" ...., what gives....
Spanish words ending in 'a' are usually feminine, but not always. A lot of Spanish nouns that end in -ma, -pa, and -ta are masculine because they are Greek in origin and had a masculine meaning. See also: www.duolingo.com/skill/es/Household/tips AND www.thoughtco.com/words-that-break-the-gender-rule-3078133
Yo entiendo ahora finalmente! :) I get using cual vs que here. Que is used more for asking directly about the object (i.e. What car, what pet, etc.) where as cual seems to be used more in a longer sentence (i.e. what is the problem, what is your email address, etc.)