HomeQ&A¿Qué tan rápido puedo llegar al final de la calle? How fast can I get to the bottom?

¿Qué tan rápido puedo llegar al final de la calle? How fast can I get to the bottom?


I was interested to see this sentence posted as a caption on one of the pictures of the day (hope you don't mind me using it to ask a question Fatchochobo smile) and wondered if someone could please explain why it's put together the way it is?

For one thing why 'qué rapido' instead of 'cómo' - is it because you can translate it as 'what speed' instead of 'how fast' - although having asked that surely that can't be the case or you would use 'velocidad' for speed.

Also what's the tan in there for?

Must have been a lesson I missed along the way lol smile

All help appreciated!

updated JUL 19, 2010
posted by Kiwi-Girl

4 Answers


Here's a similar one to consider. (to discern the pattern)

¿Qué tan lejos (adverb) es...? How much farther is... ?

Alternative to ¿Cuánta distancia (noun) es...?

¿Qué tan rapido (adverb) puedo....? ¿How quickly can I....?

Alternative to ¿Cuánto tiempo (noun) dura para...?

Googling online I saw:

¿Qué tan seria (adjective) eres...?

¿Qué tan macho (adjective) eres?

¿Qué tan sanos (adjective) son...?

¿Qué tan sexy (adjective) eres?

¿Qué tan peligroso (adjective) es...?

The fact that tan is used to modify adjectives, verbs, and adverbs (rather than tanto(a) with nouns) doesn't explain the phrasing itself. I can understand why qué is used rather than cómo, because it is asking "how much?" rather than "how do you do something?".

Maybe a native can tell us more of the phrase's usage?

By the way, was your example an idiom? If not, it seems to me to say:

How quickly (fast) can you get to the end of the street?

updated JUL 19, 2010
edited by 0074b507
posted by 0074b507
Thanx that's a good start :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 19, 2010
that combination seems really common tho' 'qué tan profundo es tú amor?' etc - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 19, 2010

HI maire, this

qué tan lejos...qué tan rápido...

Sounds perfectly wrong to mewink In Spain you would never use that, but it does exist, I found that out some time ago, sounds absolutely off to meraspberry

Cómo de lejos, cómo de cerca...this is used over here, might sound weird to others, jeje

Era normal en el español medieval y clásico, y hoy pervive en amplias zonas de América

I don¡t know about very old writings, trust me , I had never seen this before. But it is used on America.

updated JUL 19, 2010
posted by 00494d19
in - 00494d19, JUL 19, 2010
ok good to know, thanx Heidita :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 19, 2010

Ok well apparently:

qué tan

> qué tan + adjectivo = how + adjective

qué tan(to) Locución adverbial equivalente, según los casos, a cuán(to) o a cómo de, que puede aparecer en oraciones interrogativas o exclamativas, tanto directas como indirectas. Era normal en el español medieval y clásico, y hoy pervive en amplias zonas de América: «¿Qué tanto podrá desarrollarse el mercado bursátil en los próximos cinco años?»; «¿Qué tan sofisticado es el equipamiento técnico que usted utiliza en sus presentaciones?»; «Era mi costumbre [...] la de deshojar margaritas para saber qué tanto me amaba Estefanía»; «Depende de qué tan madrugador sea usted».

updated JUL 19, 2010
posted by Kiwi-Girl
if a native speaker is passing through and could confirm this that'd be gr8 :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 19, 2010
Well, if you could find your own answer, why did you ask? :-) :-) - 0074b507, JUL 19, 2010
Trust the Force, María. Er.. I mean, trust your intuition and research capacity. You got in on your own, and you got it fine. :-) - Gekkosan, JUL 19, 2010
Thanx Gekkosan - what is it they say - 'He helps those who help themselves' :) Sorry Q - I was waiting for you, perhaps you could step things up a little next time lol - just jokes, sorry can't help myself when it comes to research :) - Kiwi-Girl, JUL 19, 2010

This link has quite good info on tan, tanto etc but it doesn't help with why it's used in this situation: :( I'll put it up though incase it helps someone.

Tan vs Tanto

  1. When "tan"is used as an adverb modifying another adverb or an adjective, it means "so". Ella es tan metódica. = She is so methodical. Es tan grande que no me lo puedo imaginar. = It is so big I can't fathom it. Sucedió tan rápidamente... = It happened so quickly...
  2. Sentences using tan often can be translated using the word such in English. Tiene una barba tan grande. = He has such a big beard. Está tan lejos. = It's such a long way away (It's so far away).
  3. Tanto (and tantos, tanta, tantas). These are adjectives, used to modify nouns, and are ususlly translated "so much" or "so many". Tanto must agree in number and gender with the noun it modifies, so in many cases it must change to tantos, tanta or tantas. ¡Tengo tanto trabajo! = I have so much work. Traigo tantos libros que no aguanto mi mochila. = I'm bringing so many books I can hardly carry my backpack. He visto tanta televisión que me duele la cabeza. = I've watched so much TV that my head hurts. ¡Tengo tantas ganas de ir! = I want to go so much!
  4. Comparisons (tan x como y = as x as y). El no es tan viejo como yo. = He is not as old as I am. No tengo tanto dinero como ella. = I don't have as much money as she does. Vi tantos coches como tú. = I saw as many cars as you did. Tomo tanta agua como tú. = I drink as much water as you. Tengo tantas canicas como tú. = I have as many marbles as you.

With these comparisons, what's the difference between tan and tanto/tantos/tanta/tantas? It's simply this: If the word you're modifying is an adverb or adjective, you need to use tan. If the word you're modifying is a noun, use tanto, and make sure it agrees in number and gender with the noun (tanto/tantos/tanta/tantas). Look at the above examples. Viejo is an adjective, while dinero, coches, agua and canicas are nouns. __

updated JUL 19, 2010
edited by Kiwi-Girl
posted by Kiwi-Girl
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