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Todo sobre los cumpleaños (All About Birthdays) in Spanish

Let's talk about cumpleaños (birthdays) in Spanish!

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Talking about Age in Spanish

To kick off our lesson on birthdays in Spanish, let's first recall that the way to say that you are a certain edad (age) in Spanish is tener años (literally "to have years"). So, if you wanted to ask someone how old they were in Spanish, you could say:

 

¿Cuántos años tienes?

How old are you?

Caption 11, El Aula Azul Los tutti frutti

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(or ¿Cuántos años tiene? when addressing someone as the more formal usted). And if someone asks you how old you are, you could say tengo (insert a number) años, as we see here:

 

Tengo dieciséis años.

I'm sixteen years old.

Caption 7, Cleer Entrevista a Lila

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Like in English, if you wanted to say just "I'm sixteen" without the "years old," you could omit the word años and say simply, "Tengo dieciséis." And, as you could say, "What's your age?" in English, in Spanish, you could say: 

 

¿Tú qué edad tienes? ¿Yo? Veinticuatro.

How old are you? Me? Twenty-four.

Captions 6-7, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 8

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(This question could be translated as "How old are you?" as well). If you need a refresher on the numbers in Spanish, we invite you to read this lesson on The Numbers from One to One Hundred in Spanish.

 

Finally, if you wish to speak more generally about age in Spanish, you might use adjectives like jóven (young), viejo/a (old),

adolescente (teenage/adolescent), de edad media (middle-aged), or anciano/a (elderly), although you shouldn't forget that la edad es solo un número (age is just a number)!

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How Do You Ask "When's Your Birthday?" in Spanish?

The Spanish word for birthday, (el) cumpleaños, comes from the verb cumplir años, which means "to have a birthday." Its literal meaning is something like "to complete" or "accomplish years," which makes sense since getting to the next age sometimes feels like an accomplishment! So, to ask someone when his or her birthday is, you might say: 

 

¿Cuándo cumple(s) (años)?

When's your birthday?

 

Cumple is, of course, the usted (formal "you") form, while cumples is the less formal version with . And the word años (years) is in parentheses because including it is optional, as you will see in the following clip that includes both versions (notice that the second instance of cumplir is conjugated with vos, or the informal "you" in certain regions):

 

¡No lo puedo creer! -¡Yo cumplo mañana! ¿Mañana cumplís años? -¡Sí, mañana! -¡Llegué pa' la fiesta!

I can't believe it! -My birthday is tomorrow! Tomorrow is your birthday? -Yes, tomorrow! -I arrived [just in time] for the party!

Captions 89-90, Muñeca Brava 3 Nueva Casa - Part 8

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We also see the first person conjugation with yo (I), which will come in handy when you want to tell someone when your birthday is:

 

Cumplo el dos de abril

My birthday is April second. 

 

Note that when this verb is used with a certain number, it means "to turn (a certain number of) years old."

 

Yo hoy cumplo treinta y seis años;

Today I turn thirty-six;

Caption 46, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1

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And to say you "just turned" a certain age, you might say:

 

Tengo nueve años recién cumplidos. [Paula y Ester]

I just turned nine years old. [Paula and Ester]

Caption 3, Paula y Ester Los objetos de Paula

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Alternative ways to say this include "Acabo de cumplir nueve añosand "Recién cumplí nueve años.

 

To conclude this section, let's take a look at slightly more literal options for asking someone when his or her birthday is and saying when yours is, noting that tu and su are the less and more formal ways to say "your," respectively:

 

¿Cuándo es tu/su cumpleaños? -Mi cumpleaños es el dos de abril

When is your birthday? -My birthday is April second. 

 

Or, you could use the more colloquial, abbreviated form and say merely: "¿Cuándo es tu/su cumple?"

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Formal Birthday Terms

Another, more formal way to ask someone when they "were born" is with the verb nacer, with a question like:  "¿Cuándo naciste (tú)?" or "¿Cuándo nació (usted)?" Now, let's see how to say "I was born":

 

Nací el catorce de enero de mil novecientos ochenta y siete.

I was born on January fourteenth, nineteen eighty-seven.

Caption 18, Raquel Poner una denuncia

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As this question might evoke a more detailed response involving your birth month/year, if you need to review how to say these things in Spanish, check out these lessons on How to Write and Say the Months in Spanish and Saying Years in Spanish. And remember that, like in English, Spanish has a different word for "birthdate" (as opposed to "birthday"), which is fecha de nacimiento

 

Birthday Party Vocabulary

Now that you know how to talk about age and birthdays in Spanish, let's learn some vocabulary to festejar or celebrar (both mean "to celebrate") a feliz cumpleaños (happy birthday). 

 

Perhaps you want to plan a fiesta de cumpleaños (birthday party). The verbs for having, or throwing a party in Spanish include hacer (to make/do), preparar (to prepare), or organizar (to organize) una fiesta (a party):

 

Karla, sabes, me gustaría hacer una fiesta

Karla, you know, I'd like to have a party

Caption 10, Karla e Isabel Preparar una fiesta

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First, you'd better send out some invitaciones (invitations) to the lista de invitados (guest list). 

 

Ya he enviado las invitaciones a todos mis amigos

I have already sent the invitations to all my friends

Caption 3, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

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When the guests arrive, they just might come bearing regalos (gifts). The verb for giving a gift is regalar. They might also give you a tarjeta de cumpleaños, which can also be called a tarjeta de felicitación (literally a "congratulations card"). In fact, in addition to telling you "Feliz cumpleaños" on your birthday, Spanish speakers might say "Felicitaciones" (Congratulations) or "Te/le felicito" (I congratulate you).  

 

In terms of the decoraciones (decorations), you've got to have balloons! While globo is probably the most common word for "balloon" in Spanish, different countries have different words like balónvejiga (which also means bladder!), chimbombaor just bomba.

 

O una bomba de papel metalizado.

Or a silver paper balloon.

Caption 1, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 10 - Part 6

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And don't forget the cake! Words for "cake," which also vary from country to country, include la tarta, el pastel, la torta, and el bizcocho. Let's hear a couple of these in action:

 

Mirad, aquí está la tarta. Cumplo treinta y seis.

Look, here's the cake. I'm turning thirty-six.

Caption 11, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1

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Un rol protagónico lo tiene el pastel de la quinceañera

The birthday girl's cake plays a leading role

Caption 33, Venezuela La tradición de los quince años

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In the second example, quinceañera refers to the birthday girl at a special, coming-of-age celebration for girls' fifteenth birthday that is celebrated in many Latin American countries (this word can also refer to the party itself). The video La tradición de los quince elaborates on this custom. 

 

And finally, let's talk about las velas (candles) that go on a birthday cake. The verb for "blowing" them (out) is soplar, during which the cumpleañero/a (birthday boy/girl) should pedir deseos (make wishes):

 

Y yo que soy la cumpleañera, pido un deseo y soplo las velas.

And I, as I'm the birthday girl, make a wish and blow out the candles.

Captions 13-14, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

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The Happy Birthday Song in Spanish

And we mustn't forget the "Happy Birthday" song, which shares the same tune in English and Spanish. Let's listen to a couple of different versions in Spanish:

 

Cumpleaños feliz Cumpleaños feliz Cumpleaños felices Te deseamos a ti

Happy Birthday Happy Birthday Happy Birthdays We wish to you

Captions 6-9, Curso de guitarra Para los que empiezan desde cero - Part 3

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Que los cumplas feliz.

Happy birthday to you.

Caption 10, Marta Vocabulario de Cumpleaños

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That's all for today. To hear many of these Spanish birthday vocabulary words in action and learn some more, you might watch Marta- Vocabulario de cumpleaños. In the meantime, we hope you've enjoyed this lesson, and... don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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Vocabulary

Las 10 resoluciones de Año Nuevo más comunes (Top 10 New Year's Resolutions)

Have you thought about your resoluciones de Año Nuevo (New Year's resolutions) yet? Let's go over ten of the most common propósitos de Año Nuevo (another Spanish term for "New Year's resolutions") and find out how to talk about them in Spanish. 

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The Top 10 New Year's Resolutions 

 

1. Bajar de peso (Lose weight)

After a season of comer de más (overeating), a lot of us feel we have put on a few libras (pounds) or kilos (kilograms, since much of the Spanish-speaking world uses the metric system) and wish to adelgazar (lose weight) in the New Year. 

 

Entonces, en un sentido es, quiero bajar de peso,

So, in one sense it's, I want to lose weight,

Caption 22, Cuentas claras Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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Another way to say "to lose weight" in Spanish is perder peso.

 

2. Hacer más ejercicio (Exercise more)

Related to losing weight and ponerse en forma (getting in shape) or volver a estar en forma (getting back in shape) is exercising. Let's see how to say this in Spanish: 

 

quiero hacer ejercicio

I want to exercise,

Caption 23, Cuentas claras Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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3. Empezar algún hobby nuevo (Start a new hobby)

One way to get in more physical activity might be to take up some new exercise-related hobby like el yoga (yoga), la natación (swimming), or pole dancing, to name a few, and, in fact, empezar un pasatiempo nuevo (starting a new hobby) is another common New Year's resolution.

 

Claro. Es muy importante romper con la rutina diaria y hacer cosas diferentes. Te hará sentirte mejor y desconectar del estrés.

Of course. It's very important to break the daily routine and do different things. It will make you feel better and disconnect from stress.

Captions 14-18, Karla e Isabel Nuestros hobbies

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Of course, hobbies range from physical activities to more cerebral pursuits, and for a plethora of hobby ideas and how to say them in Spanish, check out this lesson on Yabla's Top 40 Hobbies in Spanish.

 

4. Dejar de fumar/tomar alcohol (Stop smoking/drinking)

Also related to such fitness/health metas (goals) are quitting smoking and drinking (either permanently or for a while): 

 

Dejar de fumar, dejar de tomar alcohol. Por eso voy a dejar de tomar.

Give up smoking, give up drinking alcohol. That's why I am going to stop drinking.

Captions 52-53, Los médicos explican La hipertensión

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5. Ahorrar dinero (Save money)

Another common resolution is to get in shape financieramente (fiscally) rather than físicamente (physically):

 

y en el lado financiero, quiero salir de deudas, quiero comenzar a ahorrar, quiero hacer un presupuesto.

and on the financial side, I want to get out of debt, I want to start to save, I want to create a budget.

Captions 25-26, Cuentas claras Sobreviviendo enero - Part 1

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6. Pasar más tiempo con amigos y familia (Spend more time with family and friends)

Pasar tiempo (spending time) with our seres queridos (loved ones) might not seem like something we have to vow to do more of, but we all too often neglect it due to being ocupados (busy), estresados (stressed), or enfocados en nuestro trabajo (focused on our jobs). And, the pandemic has definitely made us value our ability to spend time with people more than ever before. 

 

Eh... Tengo muchísimas ganas porque hace mucho tiempo que no veo a la familia y a los amigos.

Um... I really want to because it's been a long time since I've seen my family and friends.

Captions 8-9, El Aula Azul Conversación: Planes de fin de semana

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7. Viajar más (Travel more)

Having taken away our ability to travel for a time, the pandemic has also made many of us long to do so even more. A travel-related resolution might be hacer más viajes (to take more trips) generally or perhaps to finally take that special trip one has long been planning:

 

Quiero viajar a Japón este año.

I want to travel to Japan this year.

Caption 63, Clase Aula Azul Pedir deseos - Part 1

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8. Leer más (Read more) 

Carlos puts it very simply:

 

Lea más libros.

"Lea más libros" [Read more books].

Caption 42, Carlos explica El modo imperativo 2: Irregulares, Usted + plurales

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Although the aforementioned stressors might make us feel like we don't have time for la lectura (reading), many set this as a resolution because they know it can enrich their vocabulary and/or language abilities while simultaneously providing a valuable escape. 

 

9. Organizarse (Get organized)

Organizarse (getting organized) might entail cleaning up our clutter or picking up after ourselves more regularly:

 

Ahora sí, mi dormitorio está en orden.

At last, my bedroom is organized.

Caption 43, Ana Carolina Arreglando el dormitorio

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Another aspect of organization might be writing things down to avoid forgetting them or overbooking:

 

Pues yo, Montse, me lo apunto en la agenda, ¿eh?

Well, I, Montse, am writing it down in my planner, huh?

Caption 78, Amaya Teatro romano

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10. Vivir la vida a lo máximo (Live life to the fullest)

This is a more general resolution that could include having el coraje (the courage) to tackle some or many of the previous resolutions we have mentioned, as well as simply learning to vivir y valorar el momento (live and appreciate the moment). It is the notion of making the most out of each day and doing things to work towards inner paz (peace), alegría (happiness), and equilibrio (balance), while not perder oportunidades (missing out on opportunities), the specifics of which are, of course, different for each person. Let's take a look at some clips that reflect this sentiment:

 

y que vivan una experiencia, que vivan realmente el momento,

and that they live an experience, that they really live the moment

Captions 25-26, Melany de Guatemala Su Método de Actuación

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No tengas miedo. Debes ser fuerte y arriesgarte.

Don't be afraid. You should be strong and take risks.

Captions 44-45, De consumidor a persona Short Film - Part 1

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Entonces, vale la pena aprovechar la oportunidad.

So, it is worth it to take advantage of the opportunity.

Caption 29, Outward Bound Fabrizio

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Cumplir con los propósitos de Año Nuevo

Now that we have established them, ¿cómo cumplir con los propósitos de Año Nuevo (how do we keep our New Year's resolutions)? With a lot of enfoque (focus), disciplina (discipline), and determinación (determination), and by setting objetivos realistas (realistic goals) and working on them poco a poco (bit by bit). That said, les deseamos mucha suerte (we wish you a lot of luck) following through with your New Year's resolutions a largo plazo (in the long term)... and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments!

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Vocabulary

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. 

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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¿Necesitas ayuda?

Do you need help?

-Mmm... Sí.

-Mmm... Yes.

Captions 9-10, Español para principiantes - La hora

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¿No conoces Manhattan?

You don't know Manhattan?

Caption 37, Yago - 2 El puma

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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

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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

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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

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O, ¿A qué te dedicas?

Or, What do you do? [with "tú"].

Caption 17, Karla e Isabel - Tú y Usted

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Oye, y ¿en qué trabajas?

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

Caption 82, Ricardo - La compañera de casa

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Por supuesto; ¿cuál es su dirección de correo?

Of course; what is your e-mail address?

Caption 69, Negocios - Empezar en un nuevo trabajo

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¿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

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When (Cuándo)

 

¿Y cuándo hizo el "check-in"?

And when did he check-in?

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

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¿Cuándo terminas de estudiar?

When do you finish studying?

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

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Where (Dónde)

 

¿De dónde eres?

Where are you from?

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

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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.

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¿Sabes dónde hay alguna farmacia?

Do you know where there's a pharmacy?

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

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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

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¿Usted quién es?

Who are you?

Roberto. Un amigo.

Roberto. A friend.

Captions 24-25, Yago - 9 Recuperación

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Why (Por qué)

 

¿Por qué dices eso? -No...

Why are you saying that? -No...

Caption 14, Cortometraje - Beta

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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

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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

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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

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¿Cuántos años tienes?

How old are you?

Caption 6, Cleer - Entrevista a Lila

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Ah, vale. ¿Cuántos hijos tienes?

Oh, OK. How many sons do you have?

Caption 39, Clase Aula Azul - El verbo parecer

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¿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

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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.

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