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Cual vs Que

GrandmaK

GrandmaK

¡Hola!

I'm just starting to learn Spanish and this relates to lesson 1.5.

 

When do you use cuál instead of qué?

For example

¿Cuál es tu profesión? vs ¿Qué ​haces?

 

I expected the first sentence to start with qué (eg, ¿Qué es tu profesion?) but it begins with cuál, which essentially translate to ‘which.’

 

Why is this the case?  Thanks!

ricardo-rich

ricardo-rich

Hola Grandmak,

 

 ¿Qué haces?  Is asking: What do you do? Your work.  ¿Cuál es tu profesión is asking: What is your profession in the sense of the numerous professions  there are are. ¿ Qué es tu nombre? My name is a word people use when they call  to me.  ¿Cuál es tu nombre? From the world of names: Mi nombre es Ricardo. Cuál is asking for an answer from  a large pool of answers  and qué is is aking for a definitive answer. I hope this helps and perhaps Liss our tutor will reply.

 

Saludos,

 

Ricardo

GrandmaK

GrandmaK

Gracias, Ricardo. The nuance is not obvious to me but I will have to learn to recoginize it. Mucha que aprender!

 

Grandma K

ricardo-rich

ricardo-rich

De nada amigo, ¿amiga?

 

It will come in time if you keep at it. Te prometo.

 

Saludos,

 

Ricardo

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

Liss-Rocket-Languages-Tutor

¡Hola GrandmaK y ricardo-rich!

Qué vs. cuál is such a meaty question that we actually have an entire lesson devoted to it in Level 2! (Lesson 12.7: “Asking ‘What’ and ‘Which’: QUÉ vs. CUÁL”)

Ricardo-rich has already given an excellent answer, but I'll present it a little differently in case that helps you to see this more clearly, GrandmaK.


The main difference between these question words is that cuál is normally used to ask “what” when you're asking someone to pull their answer from a set number of possible responses, while qué is used to ask “what” when you're asking someone to pull their answer from anywhere or to give a definition. 

So we say ¿Cuál es tu profesión? “What is your profession?” because there are only so many things that are considered professions in the world - you have to choose your answer from that list. (For example: Soy ingeniera “(I) am (an) engineer,” Soy abogado “(I) am (a) lawyer,” etc.) But we say ¿Qué ​haces? “What do (you) do? / What are (you) doing?" because the possible answers are limitless - you could really say anything that you could think of. (For example: Trabajo con niños “(I) work with kids,” Escribo libros “(I) write books,” etc.)

This is all explained in much more detail in the Level 2 lesson, complete with handy formulas and plenty of examples for clarification. But this is a much more advanced lesson! If you're still quite new to Spanish, it's best to just start by getting familiar with questions that use each of these words for now, and to leave the more complex details as to why they're used for later on. 

I hope that this is helpful!

Saludos,

Liss

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