So much trouble understanding when "Que" is used


Is "Que" used as some sort of a generic term? Such as: want,that,have,when. It seems as when it is used, it's left up to the person listening/reading to figure out how to use it. It is not like English where we have specific words for: want, that, have,when.

updated MAR 8, 2011
posted by dyrkacz

5 Answers


Que is the most common word in Spanish, according to one study I read. It's most often used as a conjunction and/or relative pronoun, then (with tilde) as interrogative "What" (Qué).

updated MAR 8, 2011
posted by pesta
Great response :)

Hola, dyrka,

Que is a marvelous word, so useful to the language that it would be hard to write more than a few sentences without it. (And, please, this is not a challenge to anyone determined to prove me wrong! I'm just making a point)

It has many uses, and like a chameleon, can change its meaning to suit the context of the sentence.

Just check out the dictionary on this site to see a few of its many variations! (not to mention that when an accent is added, qué, the possibilities expand even further . . .)

Que es una palabra maravillosa, tan útil por la lengua que sería difícil escribir más de unas pocas oraciones sin ella.

Que tiene muchos usos, y como un camaleón, puede cambiar el significado para sentar bien al contexto de la oración.

Sólo averigua el diccionario en este sitio para ver algunas de sus numerosas variantes.

Y, con qué ¡las posibilidades amplia aún más!

updated MAR 8, 2011
edited by NancyGrace
posted by NancyGrace
Excellent response Nancy :) Your Spanish is very good :)
¡Muchas gracias, Feliz!
Some suggestions: más *de* unas pocas..sin ella (referring to una palabra), ..muchos usos.., ..consulta el diccionario.. (averiguar = just "to check")
thanks for your helpful comments, Dean . . . I thought to keep averiguar because it can also mean "inquire" and "investigate"!-
Not simply "inquire/investigate" but with the intention of verifying something.

I know what you mean but there are a few guide lines I discovered to help.

In english we often leave out the word that... example: I Know you are sick. We should say "I know that you are sick. It is never left out in spanish. Se que estas enfermo.

also whenever you see the word "what" in english not used as a sentence you put "lo que" (or la que depending on the gender) example. I love what you have done. Me encanta lo que hiciste.

There are lots of verbs that take que after them automatically like tener +que+ infinitive

Tengo que comer - I have to eat

hope this helps a bit.

updated MAR 8, 2011
posted by dewclaw
Dew just to help you: sé que... = I know that sé should have an accent (tilde) on the e! lo que = that which :)
You would never say in English: that what but that which (=lo que)

In English the "that" (relative pronoun) can be left out if it is the object of a relative Clause.


Did you like the present (that) I gave you? - can be left out. (object)

I'll lend you the book that changed my life. - can not be left out. (subject)

It is always correct to leave it in however.

When or if all the que que que s can be left out I have no idea.


updated MAR 8, 2011
posted by ian-hill
I can't edit this for some reason
Can also be a subordinitating conjunction e.g. "I hope that ..." (and, as such, can be ommitted).
In a Non defining relative clause the "that" or any other relative pronoun can not be omiitted.

A use that confused me for a long time is in phrases such as "Que tengas un buen día." In English we'd just say, "Have a nice day."

updated MAR 8, 2011
posted by LaBurra
Indirect command or you can look at it as [Espero] que tengas un buen día. Have a nice day in English is also an abbreviated sentence.
I hope "that" you have a nice day.