Chapter 22   --   Who, What, This, That

Who and Whom

In Spanish, there are two words which are translated as who or whom, and those words are quién and its plural form, quienes.
The English words whoever or whomever are translated as quienquiera in singular, or quienesquiera in plural.


examples:    Who knows?                                                ¿Quién sabe?

                   To whom shall I give the book?                   ¿A quién daré el libro ?

                   We will catch him, whoever he is.                 Le cazaremos, quienquiera que sea.

                   They are lost, whoever they are.                   Están perdidos, quienesquiera que sean.

                   It is the Council who will decide.                  Es el ayuntamiento quien decidirá.



The word whose when used in a question is given by the expressions de quién es or de quienes son

example:      Whose book is this?                 ¿De quién es este libro?

                   Whose books are these?           ¿De quienes son estos libros?


The word whose when used to indicate possession is given by cuya, cuyas, cuyo, or cuyos depending on the noun which is modified.

examples:    The woman whose car is green.   La mujer cuyo carro es verde .

                   [Her car is green, so whose modifies car.]

                   The contract whose details are clear. El contracto cuyos detalles son claros .

                   [The word whose modifies the word details.]


What, Which, and That

The words what and which are used as pronouns and interrogatives.   When we say “I understand what he means” we use what as a pronoun, refering to the idea which is understood.
When we say “What is this?” we use the word what as an interrogative, that is we ask a question.

When we say “I know which car he has” we use which as a pronoun, in this case referring to the type or make of car.
When we say “Which color is it?” we use which as an interrogative, that is we ask a question.

When used as an interrogative, the distinction between what and which is the same in Spanish as in English.
Namely, what is used when the speaker must select from very large number of choices, whereas which is used to select from a list of identifiable choices.
The word what in Spanish has a single form, qué.   The word which has two forms, cual (singular) and cuales (plural).


examples:    What is that?                                     ¿Qué es eso?

                   What did he say?                               ¿Qué dijo?

                   Which book is yours?                        ¿Cuál libro es el tuyo?

                   Which car do you have?                     ¿Cuál auto tiene?

                   Which records have you?                   ¿Cuáles discos tienes?


When cual relates to something or someone, it is used with an article.   The forms are el cual, los cuales, la cual, and las cuales.   These forms are also used after many prepositions.


example:      The woman, who is ill, cannot come today.

                   La mujer, la cual está enferma, no puede venir hoy.

                   He climbed the hill, from which he saw the valley.

                   Subió a la cumbre, desde la cual vió el valle.

                   The houses, in front of which we are standing, were built in 1955.

                   Las casas, delante de las cuales estamos, se construyeron en 1955.


The word that when it links two parts of a sentence is generally translated as que (remember que means that, and qué means what).


example:      The story that he read was long.       El cuento que leyó era muy largo .

                   I said that it might rain.                    Yo dije que pudiera llover .


A common usage of que is the expression lo que, the English equivalent of which is which, or what, as the case might be.


examples:    I gave him what he asked for.                      Le dílo que me pidió .

                   What I want is silence.                                Lo que quiero es silencio.

                   He arrived late, which I did not like.            Llegó tarde, lo que no me gustó.


This, That, These, and Those

The usage of the words this, these, that, and those is the same in Spanish as in English.
The words this (plural = these) and that (plural = those) are used when the object or person is known to the speaker, and close at hand.
They are used as adjectives or pronouns.


When used as adjectives, the Spanish forms are:

                   this (singular, masculine) = este        these (plural, masculine) = estos

                   this (singular, feminine) = esta           these (plural, feminine) = estas

                   that (singular, masculine) = ese          those (plural, masculine) = esos

                   that (singular, feminine) = esa           those (plural, feminine) = esas

examples:    I want to buy this book.                     Quiero comprar este libro.

                   That ship is enormous.                      Ese barco es enorme.

                   Those houses are small.                     Esas casas son pequeñas.


When used as pronouns, the Spanish forms are:

                   this (singular, masculine) = éste        these (plural, masculine) = éstos

                   this (singular, feminine) = ésta           these (plural, feminine) = étas

                   that (singular, masculine) = ése          those (plural, masculine) = ésos

                   that (singular, feminine) = ésa           those (plural, feminine) = ésas


examples:    These are lovely flowers.                  Éstas son flores lindas.

                   Those are tall trees.                          Éstos son árboles altos.



In Spanish, another set of words is used to mean that and those if the objects or people are unknown to the speaker, or at a distance from the speaker.

                   that (singular, masculine) = aquello   those (plural, masculine) = aquellos

                   that (singular, feminine)    = aquella   those (plural, feminine) = aquellas


example:      Those were the days.                         Aquéllos fueron los días

                   ( Here, those is a prounoun.)

                   Do you remember those days?           ¿Recuerdas aquellos días?

                   (Here, those is an adjective, modifying days.)

Note:            A distinguishing characteristic of the two forms is the accent mark, which is used when the words are pronouns, but is absent when the words are adjectives.

There is no difference in the sound; the presence of the accent mark is an indication of the function.



This book is available from under item number 3352644. Books purchased from Lulu are accompanied by a complete list of irregular verbs and all of their forms.

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