HomeQ&AWhy the "a" with cuánto

Why the "a" with cuánto

0
votes

My Websters electronic dictionary give two examples using the word cuánto.

1) ¿a cuánto están las mazanas? - How much are the apples?
2) ¿cuánto cuesta? - how much does it cost?

As both examples are enquiring about price, my question is why is the "a" required in example number 1) or can it be omitted'

1733 views
updated MAY 14, 2009
posted by Eddy

4 Answers

0
votes

The standard way to talk about price is "[algo] cuesta [precio]", but when buying in markets, one (rather colloquial) alternative is "[algo] está a [precio]". The verb "estar" is not a synonym of "costar", so the sentence makes no sense without the preposition. Replace "estar" with "(can) be found", and you'll see:

La catedral está allí - The cathedral can be found there

Estoy cansado - I find myself tired.

Las manzanas están a $3 - Apples can be found at $3

Las manzanas están $3 '''? - Apples can be found $3 '''?

(I know the 2nd sentence is not standard English, but I could not think of anything better)

This can be understood if you check the dictionary, you'll see that, even though "estar" has nothing to do with prices, the prepositions "a" and "at" do:

**[i]a

  1. prep. Precede a la designación del precio de las cosas. A veinte reales la vara. A cincuenta la fanega.

Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados**

**at

preposition

1 used to show a price, temperature, rate, speed, etc:

© Cambridge Dictionary**

Does that help?

Hi Lazarus
As always a perfectly clear explanation but then again we have come to expect nothing less, hehe. It didn´t occur to me that the verb change brought about the necessary inclusion of the preposition "a". The English example clarified this point.
Also thanks to Robert and Aurino.

updated MAY 14, 2009
posted by Eddy
0
votes

I think the explanation/reason has to do with the typical answers to both questions:

¿a cuánto están las manzanas? - están a diez pesos
¿cuánto cuesta? - cuesta diez pesos

The first question can be better understood as "at what price are the apples'". It's not the literal translation but it shows why the preposition is necessary.

(edit: I hadn't seen Lazarus' reply before posting; he probably did a better job explaining)

updated MAY 14, 2009
posted by 00719c95
0
votes

The standard way to talk about price is "[algo] cuesta [precio]", but when buying in markets, one (rather colloquial) alternative is "[algo] está a [precio]". The verb "estar" is not a synonym of "costar", so the sentence makes no sense without the preposition. Replace "estar" with "(can) be found", and you'll see:

La catedral está allí - The cathedral can be found there
Estoy cansado - I find myself tired.
Las manzanas están a $3 - Apples can be found at $3
Las manzanas están $3 '''? - Apples can be found $3 '''?

(I know the 2nd sentence is not standard English, but I could not think of anything better)

This can be understood if you check the dictionary, you'll see that, even though "estar" has nothing to do with prices, the prepositions "a" and "at" do:

[i]a
11. prep. Precede a la designación del precio de las cosas. A veinte reales la vara. A cincuenta la fanega.
Real Academia Española © Todos los derechos reservados

at
preposition
1 used to show a price, temperature, rate, speed, etc:
© Cambridge Dictionary

Does that help'

updated MAY 14, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
votes

Eddy, I won't be able to give you a grammatical explanation. We'll have to wait for Lazarus or Heidita to do that. (Where's Heidita by the way') But I'll throw in some examples.
¿Cuanto cuestan las manzanas? Here you can skip the a.
¿Qué precio tienen las manzanas? Another way of skipping the a.

'a? I think is to ask for a specific thing; ¿A qué velocidad corre su carro', ¿A qué distancia está el supermercado?

I hope that helps a little bit.

updated MAY 14, 2009
posted by 00b83c38
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