Key characteristics of Spanish interrogative words

Key characteristics of Spanish interrogative words

Updated November 24, 2023

It is known that interrogative words are used to make “open questions” which demand detailed information. Even though English question words are quite similar to Spanish. There are a few differences that we must pay attention to.

Stress and question marks

There are two aspects to point out when making questions in Spanish. Firstly, all question words have a  stress mark called “tilde” = ( ´ ). Secondly, Spanish question words are preceded by an inverted question mark “¿” at the beginning of the interrogative sentence and ended with a typical question mark “?”.

“¿Qué hace?” > What does he do?

“¿En qué piensa?” > What does she think about it?

“¿Cuál es la lengua oficial de su país?” > What is the official language in your country?


When words are combined in speech, the resulting rise and fall of the speaker’s voice is known as “intonation” and it changes depending on whether the sentence is a statement, a question or an exclamation. The highness or lowness of the tone of voice is called “pitch” while intonation is how the pitch varies. In Spanish, the pitch is more musical. It usually rises at the beginning then, falls and rises again at the end of the question.

“¿Cómo te llamas?”

“¿Cuántos años tienes?”

Singular and plural

Question words such as: “¿Cuál?” – “¿Cuáles?” > “Which?” and “¿Quién?” – “¿Quiénes?” > “Who?” can be used in singular and plural. However, the other interrogative words like “¿Qué?”,  “¿Cómo?” and “¿Cuándo?” remain the same. That is to say, they don’t have a plural form.

“¿Quién es esa chica?”  Who’s that girl?“¿Quiénes son esas chicas?” Who are those girls?
“¿Cuál es su libro favorito?” Which/What is your favorite book?“¿Cuáles son sus libros favoritos?”  Which/ What are your favorite books?

To sum up, although interrogative words are similar to English, there are some differences to take into account. If you really want to upgrade your level of Spanish, you can rely on Bright Lingua, which offers dynamic lessons within an enjoyable learning method and overall the best native teachers.

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