Spanish Lessons

Topics

Whatever, Whenever, and More! Another Use of the Spanish Subjunctive

How do you translate expressions with words like "whatever," "whenever," and "however" to Spanish? Today, we will explore some simple manners of doing so using the Spanish subjunctive along with certain key words and/or phrases. 

banner4 PLACEHOLDER

Whatever

It is fitting that the Spanish subjunctive is employed to express the notion of "whatever" because, in contrast to the more objective indicative, this mood describes things that are subjective, vague, or unknown. That said, the third person singular of the present subjunctive form of the verb ser (to be) appears in the Spanish equivalent of "whatever," lo que sea, which literally means "what it may be." With this in mind, we can use the formula lo que plus a subjunctive verb to convey the idea of "whatever" one may do, think, etc., when what that is not specifically known by the speaker. Let's look at some examples: 

 

Tú puedes hacer lo que tú quieras porque es tu libro,

You can do whatever you want because it's your book,

Caption 2, Escribiendo un libro Algunos consejos sobre cómo comenzar - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Had this speaker said "Tú puedes hacer lo que tú quieres" ("You can do what you want"), in the indicative, he would probably be referring to something specific that this author wanted to do. However, the subjunctive form quieras makes it clear that her possibilities are endless. This is particularly interesting because the English equivalents of these Spanish sentences ("you can do what you want" vs. "whatever you want") do not necessarily make this distinction. Let's see another example:

 

haré lo que usted me diga.

I'll do whatever you tell me to.

Caption 83, Muñeca Brava 48 - Soluciones - Part 3

 Play Caption

 

Similarly, had this gentleman said, haré lo que usted me dices, the idea would be "I'll do what you're telling me (specifically) to do" rather than "I'll do absolutely any (perhaps crazy!) thing you might tell me."

 

Whenever

The idea of "whenever" in Spanish is very similar, and the words cuando (when) and siempre que ("as long as" or literally "always that") can be paired with verbs in the Spanish subjunctive to say "whenever" as in the following caption:

 

y con eso ya puedes mudarte cuando quieras.

and with that you can then move in whenever you want.

Caption 43, Ricardo La compañera de casa - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

Again, had the speaker said to his perspective tenant "puedes mudarte cuando quieres" (you can move in when you want), he would most likely be referring to a specific date, perhaps one that she had previously mentioned. However, the subjunctive form cuando quieras lets her know that whatever date she might choose will work fine. Here is one more example: 

 

Estos ejercicios los puedes realizar en la mañana, tarde o noche, siempre que necesites mover tu cuerpo.

You can do these exercises in the morning, afternoon, or night, whenever you need to move your body.

Captions 7-8, Bienestar con Elizabeth Activar las articulaciones

 Play Caption

 

Literally meaning "always that you need," siempre que necesites means "whenever you need" or "whenever you might need to move your body," rather than at any specific moment. 

banner2 PLACEHOLDER

Wherever

You might have guessed by now that the word donde (where) plus a verb in the Spanish subjunctive can mean "wherever." Let's take a look:

 

Tú dejas las cosas, donde sea, da igual. 

You leave your things, wherever, it's all the same.

Caption 5, Arume Barcelona

 Play Caption
 

Here, we can see that donde sea is a popular way of saying simply "wherever," although the literal translation would be "wherever it might be." Let's check out an example with a different verb: 

 

en el restaurante, en el punto de información o donde estés.

at the restaurant, at the information point or wherever you are.

Caption 26, Natalia de Ecuador Palabras de uso básico

 Play Caption

 

Like the other expressions we have examined in this lesson, the speaker's intention in this caption is to explain that she would like to help people with basic expressions they might use, not in any specific place, but anywhere at all.  

 

Whichever

To say "whichever," we can use formulas such as a noun plus que plus a verb in the Spanish subjunctive or a relative pronoun (e.g. el que, la que, los que, or las que, which mean "the one(s)") plus que plus a verb in the Spanish subjunctive. Let's take a look:

 

Podéis utilizar el verbo que queráis.

You can use whichever verb you want.

Caption 58, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

No pasa nada. Vamos a hacer los que tengamos,

No problem. Let's do whichever ones we have,

Caption 49, Escuela BCNLIP Clase con Javi: el futuro - Part 19

 Play Caption

 

In the first example, the teacher uses the formula to emphasize the students choice among all of the available verbs, while the second caption communicates that they can practice with any of the possible examples they might have gotten, even if they differ from student to student. 

banner PLACEHOLDER

However

By "however," we don't mean sin embargo as in the conjunctive adverb, but rather "in whichever way" as in English expressions like "Do it however you see fit." For this purpose, Let's look at some examples in Spanish:

 

El destino hay que aceptarlo como venga. -¿Qué?

One has to accept destiny however it comes. -What?

Caption 56, Club 10 Capítulo 2 - Part 5

 Play Caption

 

Of course, we never know "how" destiny will unfold, so it is apt to use the subjunctive to talk about it! Another possible translation for this sentence could be "however it may come." Let's see one more example of this formula:

 

lo que tienen que hacer es aguantar como puedan las... los golpes de los de la red,

what they have to do is to withstand however they can, the... the hits from the ones by the net,

Caption 46, Escuela de Pádel Albacete Hablamos con José Luis

 Play Caption

 

Once again, as the ways they might withstand the hits from the players by the net are innumerable, the Spanish subjunctive comes into play. 

 

Whoever/Whomever

We bet you're getting the hang of this by now, but we'd better show you some examples of how to say "whoever" and "whomever" in Spanish:

 

No sé, pero quien sea la tiene difícil

I don't know, but whoever it is has got it rough

Captions 7-8, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 8 - Part 2

 Play Caption

 

An alternative translation could be "whoever it may be." 

 

Nosotras les hacemos la sugerencia a las personas que escuchen el programa

We make the suggestion to whomever listens to the program

Caption 19, Protección ambiental Ni una bolsa más

 Play Caption

 

These examples demonstrate that the formulas quien(es) or la(s) persona(s) plus que plus a subjunctive verb are the Spanish equivalents of expressions with "whoever" and/or "whomever," which are frequently confused in English ("whoever" is a subject pronoun, while "whomever" is an object pronoun). That said, the manner in which those formulas are translated will depend upon which function they fulfill within the grammatical context. 

 

Popular Expressions with "However," etc. in Spanish

Sometimes, repetition of the Spanish subjunctive verb is used to emphasize this idea of non-specificity, which we can see in many popular Spanish expressions. You will note that the repetition is not translated, and that another possible translation for such cases is "no matter":

 

pase lo que pase, yo siempre voy a estar contigo,

no matter what happens, I'm always going to be with you,

Captions 30-31, Confidencial: Asesino al Volante Capítulo 1 - Part 13

 Play Caption

 

An alternative translation here could be: "Whatever happens, I'm always going to be with you."

 

Haga lo que haga este tipo, este delincuente, aquí en el país es responsabilidad mía...

Whatever this guy might do, this criminal, here in the country it's my responsibility...

Captions 26-27, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 10

 Play Caption

 

Here, one might also say "No matter what this guy does." Let's conclude today's lesson with an excerpt from a song by our friend Luis Guitarra, which includes a plethora of similar cases: 

 

Vivan como vivan Hagan lo que hagan Sueñen con quien sueñen Sean como sean Vayan donde vayan Cuenten o no cuenten Digan lo que digan Salgan con quien salgan Piensen como piensen

No matter how they live No matter what they do No matter who they dream of No matter how they are No matter where they go No matter whether they tell No matter what they say No matter who they go out with No matter how they think

Captions 63-71, Luis Guitarra Somos transparentes

 Play Caption

 

We hope you've enjoyed this lesson on how to say things like "whatever," "however," "whichever," etc. in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

banner4 PLACEHOLDER

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email



Caption 71, 70, 69, 68, 67, 66, 65, 64, 63, 45, 44, 43, 46
Intermediate

The Essential Spanish Question Words

How many question words in Spanish are you familiar with? Do you know how to write a question in Spanish? Asking questions is one of the most important skills you need to master in the language you are learning. In this lesson, we will learn the most important interrogative words in Spanish. However, before we explore those words, let's discuss a couple of things about asking questions in Spanish. 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

How do you say the word 'question' in Spanish?

'Pregunta' is how you say the word 'question' in Spanish. 'Pregunta' is a feminine noun and its plural form is 'preguntas'. Let's practice the pronunciation of this term:

 

Kevin, la pregunta es:

Kevin, the question is:

Caption 13, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 1

 Play Caption

 

Los voy a dejar con cuatro preguntas.

I am going to leave you with four questions.

Caption 48, Carlos explica - Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo: Ustedes y vosotros

 Play Caption

 

Spanish question structure

Do you know how to write a question in Spanish? Let's take a look at the basic structure of a question in Spanish.

 

Punctuation and question marks

To begin with, you need to stick to the rules of Spanish punctuation. Because of that, when you write a question in Spanish you need to remember that question marks are always double-sided. In other words, you need to start the question with an opening question mark (¿) and end it with a closing one (?):

 

¿Cómo es Japón?

What's Japan like?

¿Qué te gusta de Japón?

What do you like about Japan?

Captions 69-70, Clase Aula Azul - Pedir deseos

 Play Caption

 

Yes/No questions

Let's start with simple questions. Believe it or not, for these kinds of questions your intonation is what matters the most. You basically make Yes/No questions by transforming a statement into a question. The Spanish question structure for these kinds of questions is the following:

 

¿ + (subject) + conjugated verb + (additional information) + ?

 

Please note that the terms in parenthesis are optional. Let's see a couple of examples:

 

A Pedro le gusta comer pizza. (Pedro likes to eat pizza.)

¿A Pedro le gusta comer pizza? (Does Pedro like to eat pizza?)

 

For negative questions, you just need to place a "no" before the conjugated verb.

 

No quieres estudiar. (You don't want to study.)

¿No quieres estudiar? (Don't you want to study?)

 

Go ahead and play the following clips so you can hear the intonation of the following Yes/No questions. Notice how the pitch of the speaker's voice gets higher at the end of the sentence when asking questions in Spanish:

 

Mmm... ¿Quieres ir al cine?

Mmm... Do you want to go to the movies?

-Sí, ¡buena idea!

-Yes, good idea!

Captions 45-46, Conversaciones en el parque - Cap. 5: Me gusta mucho este parque.

 Play Caption

 

¿Necesitas ayuda?

Do you need help?

-Mmm... Sí.

-Mmm... Yes.

Captions 9-10, Español para principiantes - La hora

 Play Caption

 

¿No conoces Manhattan?

You don't know Manhattan?

Caption 37, Yago - 2 El puma

 Play Caption

 

As you can see, it is very common to start Yes/No questions with a conjugated verb.

 

Questions that ask for specific information

The following is the Spanish question structure you need to keep mind when your question is aimed at getting some sort of information:

 

¿ + (preposition) + question word + conjugated verb + (additional information) + ?

 

Please note that the terms in parenthesis are optional. Let's see a couple of examples:

 

¡Oh! ¿Dónde está el cajero automático?

Oh! Where's the ATM?

Caption 36, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

 Play Caption

 

In the example above, we have the following structure: 

¿ + question word (dónde) + conjugated verb (está) + additional information (el cajero automático) + ?

 

Let's listen to another clip:

 

¿Desde cuándo tienes este piso?

Since when have you had this apartment?

Caption 35, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

 Play Caption

 

In this last example, the Spanish question structure is the following: 

¿ + preposition (desde) + question word (cuándo) + conjugated verb (tienes) + additional information (este piso) + ?

 

Now that we have seen the structure of a question, let's take a look at some Spanish question words in sentences.

 

Top Spanish question words

It's time to review the most important interrogative words in Spanish. If you are thinking about WH questions, you are right. Let's find out what the Spanish question words are for 'what', 'which', 'when', 'where', 'who', 'why' and 'how'.

 

Top question words in Spanish

For your reference, here's a list of the top question words in Spanish.

 

What / Which (Qué / Cuál)

When (Cuándo)

Where (Dónde)

Who (Quién)

Why (Por qué)

How (Cómo)

 

Now, let's see each one of these question words in action with a list of some of the most basic Spanish questions you can ask.

 

Basic questions to ask in Spanish using WH questions

And now, let's dive into our list.

 

What / Which (Qué / Cuál)

 

Diremos, "¿Qué hora es?"

We'll say, "What time is it?"

Caption 49, Español para principiantes - La hora

 Play Caption

 

O, ¿A qué te dedicas?

Or, What do you do? [with "tú"].

Caption 17, Karla e Isabel - Tú y Usted

 Play Caption

 

Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?

Hey, and what do you do [for a living]?

Caption 82, Ricardo - La compañera de casa

 Play Caption

 

Por supuesto; ¿cuál es su dirección de correo?

Of course; what is your e-mail address?

Caption 69, Negocios - Empezar en un nuevo trabajo

 Play Caption

 

¿Recuerdas cuál era la copa para servir vino?

Do you remember which cup was the one for serving wine?

Caption 36, Ana Carolina - El comedor

 Play Caption

 

When (Cuándo)

 

¿Y cuándo hizo el "check-in"?

And when did he check-in?

Caption 13, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa - Capítulo 3

 Play Caption

 

¿Cuándo terminas de estudiar?

When do you finish studying?

Caption 72, Carlos explica - Tuteo, ustedeo y voseo: Conjugación

 Play Caption

 

Where (Dónde)

 

¿De dónde eres?

Where are you from?

Caption 36, Curso de español - ¿De dónde eres?

 Play Caption

 

Y ¿en dónde vives?

And where do you live?

Caption 8, Cleer - Entrevista a Lila

 Play Caption

 

Let's see a couple of clips from Raquel to see the kind of questions you ask when you want to find out where something is located:

 

¿Me podrías decir dónde está el baño?

Could you tell me where the bathroom is?

Caption 7, Raquel - Expresiones para un festival de música.

 Play Caption

 

¿Sabes dónde hay alguna farmacia?

Do you know where there's a pharmacy?

Caption 24, Raquel - Expresiones para un festival de música.

 Play Caption

 

Who (Quién)

We use 'who' when we want to find out someone's identity. Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Mi jugador favorito juega en el Real Madrid.

My favorite player plays for Real Madrid.

¿Quién es?

Who is it?

Captions 19-20, El Aula Azul - Las Profesiones

 Play Caption

 

¿Usted quién es?

Who are you?

Roberto. Un amigo.

Roberto. A friend.

Captions 24-25, Yago - 9 Recuperación

 Play Caption

 

Why (Por qué)

 

¿Por qué dices eso? -No...

Why are you saying that? -No...

Caption 14, Cortometraje - Beta

 Play Caption

 

How (Cómo)

 

Para saludar, podemos decir: "Hola. ¿Cómo estás? ¿Todo bien?"

To greet (people), we can say: "Hello. How are you? (Is) everything good?"

Caption 7, Español en las calles - Varias expresiones

 Play Caption

 

Keep in mind that the word 'cómo' is not always translated as the English word 'how'. In fact, one of the most basic Spanish questions you can ask is a good example of that:

 

Buenos días, ¿cómo te llamas?

Good morning, what's your name?

Caption 8, La rutina diaria - La mañana

 Play Caption

 

When we want to find out someone's age or the price of an object, we combine 'how' with other words such as 'old' or 'much'. When we want to get that kind of information, we use other interrogative words in Spanish. Let's take a look:

 

Ah, lindo.

Oh, nice.

¿Cuánto cuesta?

How much does it cost?

Captions 33-34, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

 Play Caption

 

¿Cuántos años tienes?

How old are you?

Caption 6, Cleer - Entrevista a Lila

 Play Caption

 

Ah, vale. ¿Cuántos hijos tienes?

Oh, OK. How many sons do you have?

Caption 39, Clase Aula Azul - El verbo parecer

 Play Caption

 

¿Y cuántas botellas de agua hay aquí?

And how many bottles of water are there here?

Caption 78, Español para principiantes - Los números del 1 al 100

 Play Caption

 

And that's it for now. We hope you use this review of the most important Spanish question words as the perfect excuse to start asking questions in Spanish. Are you ready? We encourage you to do that and don't forget to send us your questions and comments.

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email



Idiomatic Expressions with The Verb Tener

In this lesson, we will review some very useful idioms and expressions with the verb tener (to have).
 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Very often, we use idiomatic expressions with tener in the present so let’s review the conjugation of this verb in the present tense:
 
Yo tengo | I have
Tú tienes | You have
Él/Ella tiene | He/She has
Nosotros tenemos | We have
Vosotros tenéis | You have
Ellos tienen | They have
 
There are many idiomatic expressions with the verb tener that Spanish speakers use to express physical sensations. These include expressions like tener frío/calor (to be cold/hot), tener hambre (to be hungry) and tener sueño (to be sleepy):

 

Bueno, pero tengo frío.

Well, but I'm cold.

Caption 31, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

 Play Caption

 

Y más que tenemos hambre ya a esta hora.

And plus, we're already hungry at this hour.

Caption 106, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa

 Play Caption

 

Tenemos sueño.

We are sleepy.

Caption 38, El Aula Azul - Estados de ánimo

 Play Caption


Apart from physical sensations, we can also use the verb tener to express other more psychological states such as tener miedo (to be afraid), tener ganas (to want/to desire), tener prisa (to be in a hurry) and tener vergüenza (to be ashamed):

 

¡Tengo miedo, tengo miedo, tengo miedo!

I'm afraid, I'm afraid, I'm afraid!

Caption 42, Muñeca Brava - 43 La reunión

 Play Caption

 

Siento que te cansaste y tienes ganas

I feel that you got tired and you want

Caption 4, Circo - Velocidades luz

 Play Caption

 

La gente parece que siempre tiene prisa...

People seem to always be in a hurry...

Caption 38, Maestra en Madrid - Nuria y amigo

 Play Caption

 

En este momento duda porque tiene vergüenza de ir a la escuela.

At this moment she hesitates because she's ashamed to go to school.

Caption 49, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje

 Play Caption

 
And finally, don’t forget that you also need to use an idiomatic expression with the verb tener when you talk about age:
 

Tengo veintiún años y soy estudiante de negocios internacionales.

I'm twenty-one years old and I'm a student of international business.

Caption 2, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

 Play Caption

 

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

That's all for now. We challenge you to try finding more idiomatic expressions with the verb tener in our catalog of videos! And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Banking Vocabulary

Have you ever found yourself in a foreign country and needing to do some banking other than just using an ATM? Here's a useful list of Spanish banking vocabulary.
 
The Spanish word for "bank" is banco. Occasionally, you may hear people using the expressions institución bancaria (banking institution) or entidad bancaria (banking entity) as well, but these two are more commonly used in written documents:
 

Las condiciones, mm... no se las acepta, eh... o no se las concede la entidad bancaria.

The conditions, mm... are not accepted, um... or are not granted by the banking entity.

Captions 56-57, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 12

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

Note that in Spanish el banco (the bank) is not the same as la banca (banking), a feminine noun you can hear or read quite often if you follow Spanish-speaking world news. Here’s an example:
 
El candidato a la presidencia de México afirmó que "la banca es uno de los mejores negocios del país".
The candidate for the presidency of Mexico affirmed that "banking is one of the best businesses in the country."
 
In Spanish the acronym ATM is rarely used. Instead, Spanish speakers use the expression cajero automático (automatic cashier), which is frequently shortened to cajero.
 

¡Oh! ¿Dónde está el cajero automático?

Oh! Where's the ATM?

Caption 36, Natalia de Ecuador - Palabras de uso básico

 Play Caption

 
As in English, the word cajero or cajera (cashier) is also used to refer to the person who handles the caja (cash register, literally "box"). This word can be used anywhere a financial transaction takes place—at stores, banks, entertainment venues, and even zoquitos clubs:
 

Hay días que la caja tiene más zoquitos que euros? -No.

Are there days when the register has more zoquitos than euros? -No.

Caption 70, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 5

 Play Caption

Finalmente, debes ir a la caja y pagar lo que quieras comprar.

Finally, you should go to the cash register and pay for whatever you want to buy.

Captions 40-41, Raquel Haciendo compras

 Play Caption


In Spanish as in English, if a cash register is located behind a glass wall or a small window, you may call it ventanilla (window); hence the use of expressions such as pague en ventanilla (pay at the window) or pase a ventanilla 8 (go to window 8). In movie theaters, for example, you may hear people say ventanilla instead of taquilla (box office) quite often. Of course, sometimes a ventanilla is just a window:
 

¿Y quiere asiento de ventanilla o de pasillo?

And do you want a window or aisle seat?

Caption 36, Raquel - La Compra de un Billete de Tren

 Play Caption


The word depósito means "deposit," and depositar means "to make a deposit." Some useful expressions are: quiero hacer un depósito or quiero depositar (I want to make a deposit, I want to deposit). And the same formula applies for transferencia (transfer), giro (wire), and retiro (withdrawal).
 
The word for "currency" is moneda (which also means "coin"):
 

"Zoquitos" es una... una red de moneda local.

"Zoquitos" is a... a network of local currency.

Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 2

 Play Caption

BANNER PLACEHOLDER

The word divisa means "foreign currency." To ask for a currency conversion, you can say quiero hacer un cambio de divisas (I want to make a currency exchange). However, for a more colloquial touch, use something like quiero cambiar dólares a pesos (I want to exchange dollars for pesos).
 
To learn more about financial terms, try our series Cuentas claras.

Vocabulary

You May Also Like