Since “which” is a fundamental little word that you’re going to use often in Spanish, knowing how to use it is important.
This guide will clarify everything you need to know about how to use “which” in Spanish.
Let’s start with the definition.
What is the Spanish word for which?
The Spanish word for “which” is cuál.
This singular form kind of translates to English as “which one”.
Take note that cuál has an accent mark above if you’re writing a question.
For instance, if you wanted to ask someone which suit they were looking at in a shopping store, you would say:
¿Cuál de estos trajes estás mirando?
And in this form, the accent mark should always feature above the letter a in the word when you’re writing a question.
What is the plural form of cuál?
The plural form of cuál is cuáles.
Note that if you’re writing a question or interrogative, the plural form still retains its accent mark.
There is no feminine version of cuáles.
If you wanted to write a question in Spanish in which you wanted to ask which flowers to purchase, you would just use cuáles.
¿Cuáles de estas flores debería llevar al hospital?
When is the plural form of cuál required?
We use the plural form of cuál when asking about several things or objects.
In this instance cuáles means “which ones”.
Have a read of the example just below to see how to use cuáles when asking a question:
Deberías preguntar a tu jefe cuáles son las nuevas reglas para el proyecto.
In which situations does cual not have an accent mark?
However, there’s a specific situation when cual does not feature an accent mark, and that situation is when you’re not asking a question.
In these circumstances, cual normally means “whom” in English.
The example below will clarify this usage type:
Esa es la madre de Jaime con la cual su padre estaba casado.
So here, the sentence is not a question, and the word cual is still being used but in a different way.
In this case, the word cual means “with whom”, and is preceded by the article la.
Now, in other situations, you can use the article el, it just depends on the gender of the noun (or sustantivo) that you’re using.
How to pluralise cual when not asking a question
In situations like the above, there are a few forms that cual can take.
Since cual might refer to several objects or sustantivos, you will have to add the suffix -es to pluralise it.
He conocido unos hombres los cuales no beben alcohol.
You’ll also need to remember that since the object or person that cual refers to can be either masculine or feminine, although cual doesn’t have a feminine form, it must feature the masculine or feminine article in situations where you’re not asking a question.
Here’s another example to help you:
He conocido unas mujeres las cuales trabajan en un zoo.
Understanding the difference between qué and cuál and when to use them
English speakers often encounter other difficulties when learning how to say “which” in Spanish.
The main difficulty is knowing when cuál is required and when qué is required, and the confusion arises because in English we use the word “what” in all circumstances where we want to understand what something is.
This is different in Spanish.
In Spanish, some questions require the word cuál and others require qué.
Here, you’ll find out when qué is needed, and when cuál is required.
When should we use qué in Spanish?
The first point to remember is that we use qué when we are asking for a definition.
If you want to ask what something means, you must use the word qué. Here’s an example:
¿Qué es un otorrinolaringólogo?
But you’ll also need to use qué when asking about the characteristics of something or someone. For example, if you wanted to know what a software engineer does, you would ask:
¿Qué hace un desarrollador?
Another grammatical tip to also bear in mind is that qué is normally found before a noun.
So you might need to think about this rule if you are confused or unsure about whether qué is required or whether you need to use cuál.
Take the example below.
If you wanted to ask what computer someone prefers, you would use qué:
¿Qué ordenador prefieres?
When should we use cuál in Spanish?
On the other hand, cuál is normally used in situations where the sentence features the verb ser but not when you are asking someone to define something.
Here’s a quick example of the verb cuál being used in this circumstance:
¿Cuál es tu dirección?
But in some circumstances, there can still be an ambiguity about when to use cuál and when to use qué, so the following rule might be particularly useful.
If you have to choose between several things or objects, use cuál. For instance:
¿Cuál de estos vestidos verdes quieres?
Note that if there is no specific group to select from, and you’re asking about any green dress in the world, you would use the word qué.
Use the word cuál when practicing your Spanish language skills
The ideal way to get more accustomed to using cuál is to first learn the rules and then practice using it for complete-the-blank exercises.
This is ideal if you’re an A1 level student and are just beginning to learn the Spanish language.
If, however, you’re at the B2 level, you might have enough knowledge to start speaking with natives and listening to podcasts or audios.
This is ideal for developing your speaking skills and recognizing when to use qué and when to use cuál.
Keep practicing using cúal to perfect your Spanish skills.
Have you got any further advice for learning how to say “which” in Spanish?
Share your advice below in the comments section!