Questions

Questions in Spanish
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Preguntas

Knowing how to ask questions is essential for making plans, shopping, traveling, getting to know people, and any other activity that requires obtaining information. There are two different types of questions, and different ways to ask each type.

Closed Questions / Yes-No Questions / Simple Questions

Preguntas cerradas / Preguntas de sí o no

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).

Por ejemplo…

¿(Tú) tienes hambre?* Are you hungry?
¿María está aquí? Is María here?

Por ejemplo…

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?
  • ¿verdad?
  • ¿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

Preguntas abiertas / Preguntas informativas

When you ask for information about who, what, when, etc., you’re asking an open question with a question word.**

1. 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.

Por ejmplo…

¿Quién tiene hambre? Who is hungry?
¿Quién está aquí? Who is here?

2. Making a question with 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?

 * Notes

  • 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.

** The question word(s) may be any of the following:

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