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?
  • ¿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

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:

quién   who
qué   what
cuándo   when
dónde   where
por qué   why
cómo    how

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?

* 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.

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