5 ways to use que in Spanish correctly

Are you using QUE correctly in Spanish (Tricky)? Here is how!

CARLA
¡Qué fastidio! Me quedé sin planes para el sábado.
(What a bummer! I lost my plans for Saturday.)

MAURA
¿Qué ibas a hacer?
(What were you going to do?)

CARLA
Nada que importe ahora.
(Nothing that matters now.)

In that little dialogue you already have three different “que”. Que in Spanish could easily be one or the most used words. So, of course I had to talk about it. Let’s go over 5 different ways to use “que” like a native.

¡Empecemos!

1. ¡Qué locura! (How crazy!): use “que” for exclamations

CARLA
¡Qué locura la cantidad de conciertos que hay este verano!
(What a crazy amount of concerts there are this summer!)

MAURA
¿Verdad? Qué intensidad tienen todos por recuperar los años de pandemia.
(Right? How intense everyone is to make up for the pandemic years.)

CARLA
Total. Y en el medio nosotras que queremos ir a todos, pero es imposible.
(Totally. And in the middle it’s us who want to go to all of them, but it is impossible.)

MAURA
Tal cual. Nunca había visto tantos conciertos juntos a los que de verdad quiera ir.
(Exactly. I’ve never seen so many concerts together that I really want to go to.)

It is very easy, and very natural to use “qué” with an accent mark, at the beginning of an exclamation. This literally happens hundreds of times on a daily basis. For example:

  • ¡Qué calor! Qué miedo que ya esté tan alta la temperatura. (How hot! How scary that the temperature is already so high.)
  • ¡Qué restaurante tan bueno! Me encantó la comida. (What a great restaurant! I loved the food.)
  • ¡Qué horror! No quiero saber nada sobre las arañas. Ni me cuentes. (What a horror! I don’t want to know anything about spiders. Don’t even tell me.)

Now, I’m going to ask you 2 things.

One: leave an exclamation in the comments. Whatever you want, about whatever you want.) Just start with “qué”.

And two: download our free Essential Spanish Chunking kit through that link here. That way you’ll have the basics covered with the chunks you’ll find in there!

✔️ Cheat Sheet with 54 essential Spanish Chunks you’ll hear and use yourself in ANY Spanish conversation (and example sentences). Taken from our YouTube Teacher’s most popular videos!

✔️ 2 Bonus Cheat Sheets with Travel Chunks and Dating/Relationship Chunks

✔️ A Spanish Chunking Tutorial showing you the 1 technique that’ll help you make 100% of the Spanish from our videos roll off the tongue in just 5 minutes a day (you’re probably only using 50% of our lessons’ potential right now…)

2. ¡¿Qué?!: use “qué” for questions

CARLA
¿Qué quieres pedir?
(What would you like to order?)

MAURA
¿Qué?
(What?)

CARLA
¿Que qué quieres pedir?
(That what would you like to order?)

MAURA
¿Para qué?
(For what?)

CARLA
Para cenar. ¿Para qué más?
(For dinner. For what else?)

MAURA
¡Ah! Jaja. Es que no sabía que íbamos a pedir. Déjame revisar.
(Ah! Haha. I didn’t know we were ordering. Let me check.)

We can ask so many things with the help of “que”. Let’s check those chunks, shall we?

  • ¿Qué quierespedir? (What would you like to order?): this is absolutely basic. And by “basic” I mean essential, foundational a most-know. Use this question “¿que quieres?” (what do you want?) by itself or add a verb after it, like:
    • ¿Qué quieres hacer? (What do you want to do?)
    • ¿Qué quieres ver? (What do you want to watch?)
    • ¿Qué quieres comer? (What do you want to eat?)

The other question you heard in that dialogue was:

  • ¿Qué? (What?): using this when you didn’t understand something might be rude in some Latin American countries. I can tell you that in places like Colombia, México and Venezuela not everybody likes this “¿qué?”. I use it all the time, though. When in doubt, just say it softly. Don’t shout it. You can also watch Paulisima’s video for alternatives to this “¿qué?”.
  • ¿Para qué? (For what?): I’m sure you know “¿por qué?” (why?) which is the ultimate question chunk in Spanish. But, “¿para qué?” is, many times, more accurate and/or a good alternative. Especially if what you’re asking is the purpose of something, like:
    • ¿Para qué compraste más pan? (What did you buy more bread for?)
    • ¿Para qué les contaste? (What did you tell them for?)
  • ¿Para qué más? (For what else?): this is a very good and very common adaptation of the previous “¿para qué?”. It is usually said ironically, like in the dialogue.

CHUNK ALERT!

I find “es que…” (it’s just that…) super useful and necessary for us to cover. English could use “it’s just that…” in the same way but, it doesn’t use it nearly as much as Spanish does. This “es que…” serves to solve anything you want to say with a bit of an explanation tone. It comes up, all the time.

Check the following examples:

OFF CAMERA
Maura, ¿estás lista?
(Maura, are you ready?)

MAURA
No, es que todavía estoy grabado.
(No, it’s just that I’m still recording.)

OFF CAMERA
Maura, ¿quieres comer pizza?
(Maura, do you want to eat pizza?)

MAURA
No, gracias, es que no estoy comiendo trigo.
(No, thanks, it’s just that I’m not eating wheat.)

OFF CAMERA
Maura, voy a mover tus cosas del sofá.
(Maura, I’m going to move your stuff off the couch.)

MAURA
Ay, sí, lo siento. Es que llegué corriendo y dejé todo tirado.
(Oh, yes, I’m sorry. It’s just that I rushed in and left everything lying around.)

We don’t really need for anyone to ask anything. Nor it’s mandatory that you have a powerful need to explain yourself. It’s just very natural to express yourself in this way in Spanish.

3. Mi español es mejor que antes (My Spanish is better than before): use  que in Spanish for comparisons.

In college we had entire classes dedicated to typical mistakes native Spanish speakers make. Using “de que” instead of just “que” or vice versa is a big one. I’ll give you an easy trick at the end of this video so it never happens to you!

CARLA
¿Tú crees que esta chaqueta me queda mejor que la otra?
(Do you think this jacket fits me better than the other one?)

MAURA
¿La negra? No sé. O sea, no sé si te queda mejor que la negra. Pero sí combina más.
(The black one? I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if it looks better on you than the black one. But it does match more.)

CARLA
Es que siento que me queda grande.
(I just feel like it’s too big on me.)

MAURA
En comparación sí, porque es como más holgada, pero no se te ve grande.
(In comparison, yes, because it’s a little looser, but it doesn’t look big on you.)

Por favor, tell me you got that “es que” (it’s just that) in this dialogue. I didn’t even try to remind you of our chunk alert. It just happened and I want you to embrace it so, let’s go over that part again.

Ahora, using “que” is the only way to make comparisons in Spanish. If you come from English you would find “what, that, than” when Spanish only uses “que”. See where I’m coming from with this crazy word?

More examples of comparison please:

  • Mi amor por los animales es más grande que el tuyo. (My love for animals is greater than yours.)
  • Los margariteños amamos nuestra isla más que cualquier otro lugar en el mundo. (We Margaritans love our island more than any other place in the world.) Margariteños is the ethnicity of people from Margarita. Which is the island where I’m from.
  • Los cirujanos tienen un trabajo mucho más difícil que el mío. (Surgeons have a much more difficult job than mine.)

What do you do for a living? Care to tell me in the video’s comments? I’d love to know who does what in this community.

4. When to use “que” and when “de que”

MAURA
¿Y qué te dijo?
(And what did he say?)

CARLA
Me dijo de que quería que nos viéramos más.
(He told me that he wanted us to see more of each other.)

MAURA
Bueno, pero esto está bien. Por cierto, estoy segura de que es un error usar el “de” en esa oración.
(Okay, but that’s fine. By the way, I’m sure it’s a mistake to use the “de” in that sentence.)

CARLA
Tienes razón. Lo correcto es “me dijo que”. Se me fue.
(You’re right. The right thing is “he told me that”. I lost it.)

The trick to never make the same mistake as Carla is to substitute “de que” with “esto” (this). If the substitution works and the sentence still makes sense, then you do not need a “de”, only “que”.

So, you could say:

  • ¿Te asombra que yo lo diga? (Does it surprise you that I say so?): we know this sentence is correct and we do not need “de que” because, we could substitute “que” for “esto” and the sentence still makes sense.
    • ¿Te asombra esto? (Does this surprise you?). Since that makes sense, this makes sense: ¿Te asombra que yo lo diga? (Does it surprise you that I say so?). No “de que” needed.

Here’s a backwards example:

  • Tu mamá se alegra de que hayamos venido. (Your mother is glad that we have come.): if you substitute “de que” for “esto” in this sentence it doesn’t work. That’s how you know we needed a “de que” and not only a “que”.

There’s two little words that I swear by when it comes to taking your Spanish game to the next level. One is “que” but the other one is “y”. That’s why I also made a video about “y” which I think you should go watch right now. Click here and I’ll see you there!

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