The use of the orthographic accent on Spanish words such as qué (what), cómo (how), and cuánto/s (how much/many) usually indicates that those words are part of an interrogative or exclamatory sentence. The following examples review how to use qué, cómo, and cuánto as exclamatory words.
Qué can be used right in front of nouns, adverbs, and adjectives. It means "how" or "what a." In our newest episode of Muñeca Brava, Mili uses qué with an adjective when she talks about the Christmas party:
¿Viste todos los regalos? ¡Qué linda! -Sí, estuvo estupenda.
Did you see all the presents? How lovely! -Yes, it was great.
Caption 2, Muñeca Brava - 30 RevelacionesPlay Caption
Qué can also be combined with an adverb to express surprise about the way an action was done:
¡Qué bueno he sido pa' ti Y qué mal te estás portando!
How good I've been for you And how badly you're behaving!
Captions 17-18, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesaPlay Caption
Qué can also be placed in front of a noun:
¡Ay, qué espanto! ¡Y pensar que el hombre ese estaba en mi cama!
What a scare! And to think that man was in my bed!
Caption 4, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La ApuestaPlay Caption
Cuánto (how much) can be used in front of nouns and verbs. When used with a noun, this exclamatory word must agree in gender and number:
¡Cuántos frijoles hubiéramos hecho!
How many beans we would have produced!
Caption 28, Con ánimo de lucro - CortometrajePlay Caption
When cuánto is accompanied by a verb, we always use the masculine, singular form. If a direct object pronoun is required, we must place it between the two words:
¡Ay, no sabes cuánto lo lamento!
Oh, you don't know how much I regret it!
Caption 17, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poemaPlay Caption
Finally, the exclamatory cómo is used in front of verbs. This example requires the use of a reflexive pronoun (me), which is also placed between the two words:
¡Guau, cómo me gustan esos hobbies!
Wow, how I like those hobbies!
Caption 38, Karla e Isabel - Nuestros hobbiesPlay Caption
We hope you have enjoyed this brief review on exclamatory words.
Es una canción dura pero... pero a la vez gratificante, ¿no?
It is a tough song but... but at the same time rewarding, right?
Caption 32, David Bisbal - Haciendo Premonición LivePlay Caption
Don’t mix up this word with a veces, which means “at times,” “occasionally”, or “sometimes.” Dany, our Venezuelan chef, demonstrates perfectly:
Entonces a veces habrá que voltearla un par de veces más antes de terminarla.
So, sometimes it would be necessary to flip it a couple of times more before finishing it.
Caption 44, Dany - ArepasPlay Caption
Quieras o no, era un sueldito que de vez en cuando venía bien.
Like it or not, it was a little wage that from time to time came in handy.
Captions 55-56, Biografía - Natalia OreiroPlay Caption
Miénteme una vez
Lie to me once
Caption 13, Bárbara Muñoz - MiéntemePlay Caption
¿Por qué no te acostás de una vez y apagás la luz?
Why don't you get in bed at once and turn off the light?
Caption 35, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La ApuestaPlay Caption
No, uh, no, no, este, quiero a ver si me entendés de una vez por todas.
No, oh, no, no, um, I want to see if you understand me once and for all.
Caption 51, Yago - 2 El pumaPlay Caption
Tired? No way! In our latest installment of Muñeca Brava, we hear:
Ahora tengo los ojos como el dos de oro. No voy a poder pegar un ojo.
Now I'm wide awake. I won't be able to sleep a wink.
Captions 29-30, Muñeca Brava - 18 - La ApuestaPlay Caption
Word for word, "el dos de oro" is "the two of gold [coins]." But we didn't subtitle our new video clip with this literal translation, because it makes little sense without an explanation. So here's our explanation: In a Spanish deck of cards ("una baraja española"), the four suits include "Oros," which are depicted with gold coins. The "2" card has two round coins, which rather resemble two wide open eyes. So the image sent us to the English expression, "wide awake."
If you're wide awake while reading this, you might note that Spanish uses a definite article before "eyes" that you wouldn't hear in English. In phrases like this one, describing a part of the body, the definite article is often used when a condition is not permanent (Mili's eyes are not always wide and round like two gold coins), but dropped when the condition is permanent.
Tienes los ojos cansados. [Not permanent.]
"You have tired eyes." (Your eyes look tired.)
Tiene ojos azules. [Permanent]
"He has blue eyes."
Here's another thing you will notice when listening to native Spanish speakers: They usually do not use possessive pronouns to describe parts of the body. In cases where in English we find a possessive pronoun (e.g. my, your, his, her), a definite article is used in the Spanish equivalent.
Abre los ojos.
"Open your eyes."
Me corté el dedo.
"I cut my finger."
Le duele la pierna.
"His leg hurts."
Looking back at the dialogue from Muñeca Brava (above), note that there's another colloquial expression that deserves a closer look: pegar [un] ojo. In your dictionaries, you might find the verb pegar translated as "to stick," "to lean against" or "to hit." But no pegar ojo is best translated as "not sleeping a wink" -- i.e., not shutting those peepers at all.