Spanish Lessons


Combining Parts of Speech III - Cual, Cuales

Let's continue studying phrases that combine prepositions, articles and pronouns, since these are always a source of confusion for many Spanish learners. One of the main function of this type of phrase is to connect simple sentences to transform them into complex ones, and thus participate in real conversations. You can take a look at previous lessons in the series at ourcombining%20parts"> lessons site.
For this lesson, we will focus on the use of the pronoun cual (plural cuales), which should not be mixed up with the interrogative adjective cuál (plural cuáles) that modifies and accompanies a noun:

¿Pero cuál juego les gusta más?
But which attraction do you like the most?
Caption 36, Guillermina y Candelario - El parque de diversiones - Part 1

or with the interrogative pronoun cuál (plural cuáles) that takes the place of a noun. In the following example, when having a conversation about cars, someone uses it to ask:

¿Cuál te gusta a ti?
Which one do you like?
Caption 13, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 19

On the other hand, the pronoun cual/cuales (without the accent mark) is not used to ask questions. It's rather used in fixed phrases (called locusiones in Spanish) that usually involve the combination of articles, prepositions and other pronouns. In this case, the core is always a definite article + cual:  el cual, la cual, lo cual, for the singular, and los cuales, las cuales, los cuales, for the plural. Other parts of speech can then be added to that: prepositions before, pronouns after. Let's see an example using the preposition en (on, in) and the personal pronoun nos:

y el segundo tiene que ver con el lugar en el cual nos encontramos.
and the second one has to do with the place in which we are located.
Caption 35, Carlos explica - Tuteo, Ustedeo y Voseo - Conceptos básicos

Here's an example with the preposition por (for). These are the words of a Mexican politician. We have decided to transcribe a big chunk of what he says so you can see the phrase in context:

Yo sé que este país que me ha tocado conocer de cerca, palparlo de cerca, sentirlo muy, muy profundamente y por el cual tengo una enorme pasión.
I know that this country that I've had the fortune to know closely, to sense it closely, to feel it very, very deeply and for which I have an enormous passion.
Caption 3, Felipe Calderón - Publicidad - Part 1

Here's another long example using the plural feminine form las cuales and the preposition con (with):


Básicamente este era un juguete que era un amplificador, con algunas pistas, con las cuales los niños juegan a cantar, ¿no?
Basically this was a toy which was an amplifier, with some tracks, that kids sing along with, right?
Caption 63, Lo que no sabías - Arte electrónico - Part 3

Now an example using the preposition de (for) and the neutral form lo cual:

Es básicamente lo mismo que hicimos en el laboratorio pero a escala industrial, de lo cual están encargados otros colegas.
It's basically the same thing we did in the laboratory but on an industrial scale, which other colleagues are in charge of.
Caption 62, Una Historia de Café - La Catación - Part 1

There are many other combinations that you can find in our catalog of videos, with other prepositions and pronouns, or without them. Here's just one example with the preposition de (of) and the pronoun me:

De lo cual me siento muy orgulloso.
I'm very proud of that [of which I'm very proud].
Caption 41, Escuela Don Quijote - Jesús Baz - Part 1

Something important to note is that it's possible to substitute the pronoun cual with the pronoun que. This is especially true in colloquial Spanish and considered less correct in formal or written speech. Take the first example above, el lugar en el cual nos encontramos: people also say el lugar en el que nos encontramos. The same substitution can be made with all the other subsequent examples.

Combining Parts of Speech

Using Spanish articles and pronouns is not always easy, and learning to combine them is even more complicated. Let's study some interesting examples to learn more about these combinations.
The phrases la que, el que mean "the one that" or "the one who":
que es la que está con el niño atrás.
who is the one who is with the little boy back there.
Caption 14, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 3
Aligerar, hacer ritmo. -Y el que venga conmigo
To hurry up, to make it quick. -And, whoever comes with me,
Caption 81, Europa Abierta - Empuje para Pymes
As you can see, the English translations may be different, but the meaning is still the same in both examples. In the second case, a more literal translation is also possible: el que venga conmigo (the one who comes with me).

It's important to always have in mind the variations of gender and number: los que and las que ("the ones that" or "the ones who"):

los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo,
the ones that can be picked by hand from below
Caption 51, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

Now, in Spanish it's also possible to combine these expression with prepositions. For example, you can add the preposition and form a los quea las quea la que, and al que (remember that a + el + que al que).
These phrases could mean, literally, "to/for the one(s) that" or "to/for the one(s) who":
Al que llegó sin avisar
To the one who arrived without warning
Caption 21, Calle 13 - Pa'l norte
Depending on the context, the English equivalent of these phrases is different, though. For example, check out the following caption including an extra pronoun (a reflexive one): nos (to us).
Ah, a los que nos gusta surfear,
Ah, for those of us who like surfing,
Caption 9, Antonio Vargas - Artista - ilustración - Part 1

Also, depending on the context, and since the preposition a has many different meanings, the literal meaning of these phrases could also be "to the ones that" or "to the ones who" =  "whom" or "to which."  
Al que llamaban Speedy Gonzales.
whom they called Speedy Gonzales.
Caption 4, A. B. Quintanilla - Speedy Gonzalez
a la que pertenecieron sus primeros moradores.
to which its first inhabitants belonged.
Caption 17, Club de las ideas - Mi entorno - Part 1
Check out this example, also with an extra reflexive pronoun: se (to it, to him, to her, to them)
El principal problema al que se enfrentan la mayoría de las PYMEs europeas
The main problem that most of the European SMEs face
Caption 17, Club de las ideas - Mi entorno - Part 1
Tricky, right? The English translation is simply "that," but you can think of a literal one just to see how Spanish works: "the main problem to the one (to which) most of the European SMEs face."
You can also combine these phrases with a different preposition, for example the preposition con (with). Then you have con la que, con el que, con los que, con las que (with whom or with which). But let's save that for a future lesson. 

Caption 17

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email

Combining Parts of Speech II

Let's continue reviewing examples of phrases that combine prepositions, articles and pronouns. In the previous lesson we talked about combining the preposition con (with) with the indefinite articles (el, la, los, las) and the pronoun que (that, which): con la que, con el que, con los que, con las que (with whom or with which). Let's see the examples, because in real context these phrases can be quite tricky. 

Les preguntaron cómo debería ser la escuela con la que ellos sueñan.
They were asked the question of what the school that they dream of should be like.
Caption 7, Club de las ideas - La escuela que queremos

We can try a more literal translation just to see how Spanish works:  "what the school of/with which they dream should be like." Here's another example:

no me parecía el tipo de gente con el que yo me quería involucrar.
they didn't seem to be the kind of people I wanted to get involved with.
Caption 81, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 2

Do you want a literal translation? Here it is: "they didn't seem to be the kind of people with which I wanted to get involved."

It seems that Spanish and English are more parallel when using the plural forms:

Estos espacios recrean un capítulo histórico con los que el coriano convive a diario.
These spaces recreate a historic chapter with which the Corian resident coexists daily.
Caption 34, Ciudades - Coro Colonial - Part 1

y para beneficiar las comunidades con las que trabajamos.
and to benefit those communities with whom we work.
Caption 48, De consumidor a persona - Short Film - Part 5

Now let's see how to combine el que, la que, los que, las que with two similar prepositions: por and para. Understanding the difference between these two is a constant challenge, even for advanced learners, so you can never study them too much!

...aquí están las puertas abiertas para el que quiera trabajar. the doors are open for whomever wants to work.
Caption 38, Circo Infantil de Nicaragua - Learning the Trade - Part 1

por el que transitan trece millones de clientes al año.
through which thirteen million customers pass per year.
Caption 14, Reporteros - Crecen los robos en tiendas - Part 2

Esa es buena para la que fuma el puro,
That one is good for the one who smokes cigars,
Caption 44, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 7
Y ésta es la razón por la que cuando se piensa en un nombre que contribuya a...
And this is the reason why (literally, "because of which") when one thinks of a name that contributes to... 
Caption 22, El Instituto Cervantes - Director del Instituto - Part 1

Existe el metro y el autobús para los que tienes que comprar billetes.
There is the subway and the bus for which you have to buy tickets.
Caption 70, Blanca - Cómo moverse en Barcelona
De las etapas por las que pasan los conjuntos...
Of the stages that groups go through...
Caption 74, Arturo Vega - Entrevista - Part 3

Caption 34
Caption 44
Caption 74

Signup to get Free Spanish Lessons sent by email

You May Also Like