Gramática: ¿Cuánto(s) y quién(es)?

Objetivos

  • Ask and answer questions with ¿cuántos y quién(es)?

¿Cuánto?

“Fusiles” = rifles; traer = “to bring.” From a famous (purported) conversation between Fidel and Raúl Castro. Described here.

You may recall using cuánto in the question “¿Cuántos años tienes?”. We use this question word before a noun when that noun may be counted or measured. ¿Cuánto/cuántos? means “how many” if the noun is countable (meaning you can count up by adding more of the items), and means “how much” if the noun is uncountable (meaning an indivisible, collective thing).

Por ejemplo:

  • ¿Cuánto cuesta? (How much does it cost?)
  • ¿Cuántos dólares tienes? (How many dollars do you have?)

¡Be careful! ¿Cuánto? must agree in number and gender with the noun it is asking about.

  • Masculine singular: ¿Cuánto tiempo tenemos? (How much time do we have?)
  • Feminine singular: ¿Cuánta luz entra por la ventana? (How much light comes in through the window?)
  • Masculine plural: ¿Cuántos perros tienes en casa? (How many dogs do you have at home?)
  • Feminine plural: ¿Cuántas hermanas tienes? (How many sisters do you have?)

¿Quién?

Haz bien y no mires a quien.
(Proverbio)

The question “Who speaks Spanish?” uses the interrogative “who” as a subject. Just like in English, the Spanish question ¿Quién habla español? uses the interrogative quién as the subject. Quién is the singular version of “who,” and is meant to represent one person. Therefore, the verb is conjugated in the él/ella form as if one person were the subject of the sentence.

  • ¿Quién vive en tu casa? (Who lives in your house? – assuming it is or might be only one person)
  • ¿Quién es tu padre? (Who is your father? – asking about one person)

Quiénes is the plural version of “who,” and is meant to represent multiple people. Here you would use the ellos/ellas form of the verb.

  • ¿Quiénes son tus padres? (Who are your parents? – asking about more than one person)
  • ¿Quiénes viven en tu casa? (Who lives in your house? – assuming or knowing that more than one person lives there)

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