Qual vs. O que
Can anyone explain to me the difference between qual and o que for what. I get that qual is which but I've come across so many exceptions.
All I could come up with so far: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/815384
In short, "qual" and "que" can point to a noun, in that case the translation is "what/which noun".
"O que" cannot point to a noun, and meas "what" (this what doesn't point to a noun either).
"Qual" can also be alone, and in this case, it's "which one".
One exception that I've noticed is if the verb "ser" is after O QUE/ QUAL, usually "QUAL" is used, and it means "what."
- What is the colour? - Qual é a cor?
I'm sure there are other exceptions, and I'm not sure if these rules always hold true, but I've been able to get it most of the time.
QUAL means which. When you ask "Qual é a cor?", you're asking for a color from a set of colors. In English, you would say "Which is the color: yellow or red?". You've provided a set of colors to choose from. But, if you don't provide a set of colors to choose from, you'll say "What is the color?". In Portuguese, you don't need to provide a set of colors to know that there are other colors out there. When you say "Qual é a cor?", you already know that there are other colors, and you're asking for a certain color from a set of colors.
O QUE means what. "What do you need?" "O que você precisa?" - you are not asking this person if he needs something from a set of things, you're asking if he needs something in general.
I think that provides examples of what the OP already knows, but he was asking for exceptions. If "O que" is followed be the verb "ser," it is replaced with "Qual" in most Portuguese lessons here, and still retains the meaning of "What." (Although it does also accept "which" in some cases, albeit more rarely)
Yeah, as I said, in English we use what/which differently. For instance, in English, you cannot say "Which is the color?" without providing examples, but in Portuguese, you can. That is why in some lessons you have to put "what" for QUAL.
Can you post these exceptions?