Asking questions in Spanish is pretty straightforward. There are two main kinds of questions: closed questions and open questions.
Closed Questions / Yes-No Questions / Simple Questions
Questions which allow a limited selection of answers – a simple "yes" or "no" – are called closed questions. In English, closed questions always start with "do," "be," or "have." There are 3 ways to ask these kinds of questions in Spanish:
1. Form a sentence and put question marks around it (when writing) or raise the intonation of your voice at the end (when speaking).
|¿(Tú) tienes hambre?*||Are you hungry?|
|¿María está aquí?||Is María here?|
2. Invert the subject and verb.
|¿Tienes (tú) hambre?||Are you hungry?|
|¿Está María aquí?||Is María here?|
3. With a question that you’re pretty sure will get a yes answer, you can use one of the following tags at the end:
- ¿no es verdad?
- ¿no es cierto?
Por ejemplo …
|Tienes hambre, ¿verdad?||You’re hungry, right?|
|María está aquí, ¿no?||Maria is here, isn’t she?|
Open Questions / WH– Questions / Information Questions
Open questions are more complicated; they ask for more information, such as who, what, when, where, why, how, which, for what, etc.
Spanish information question words:
Click on the Spanish word to hear it pronounced. Note that all question words have an accent.
In order to make a question with quién, simply use it to replace the subject of the sentence and use the third person singular form of the verb.
|Tú tienes hambre.||You’re hungry.|
|¿Quién tiene hambre?||Who is hungry?|
|Maria está aquí.||Maria is here.|
|¿Quién está aquí?||Who is here?|
Making a question with the other question words is similar to #2 in closed questions: Say the question word, then invert the subject and verb.
|¿Dónde estás?||Where are you?|
|¿Qué hacen ellos?||What are they doing?|
|¿Cuándo vamos a comer?||When are we going to eat?|
- Spanish has a two-part question mark: an upside-down question mark ¿ at the beginning of the question and ? at the end. See my accents page to learn how to type this.
- Remember that the subject pronoun is optional.