HomeQ&A"al que" - relative pronoun

"al que" - relative pronoun

1
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In the Reference section article on relative pronouns, this example is given under Point 3. El Que/El Cual.

Saludé a mi amiga Yesica, al que vi ayer. (I said hello to my friend Yesica, who I saw yesterday.)

  1. Should it not be "... a la que vi ayer", if you're going to use that pronoun, since the antecedent is feminine?

  2. Would it not be better to say, "... a quien vi ayer", since we're referring to a person?

  3. Is it not "Yésica"?

  4. Why are examples not given showing the gender and number variations for these pronouns (la que/cual, las que/cuales, los que/cuales)? They are not even listed anywhere.

5623 views
updated ABR 25, 2010
posted by hhmdirocco

10 Answers

0
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I was asking if it is "better" to use the pronoun quien to refer to people, meaning more polite or more proper. I take it from your answer that it can be quite the opposite ("too formal"). Could you please expound upon this and talk about those restrictions?

"Que" is perfect for people. "Quien" cannot be used in restrictive clauses when it is the subject of the subordinate. For example, the sentence

Esa es la persona quien vino ayer

is COMPLETELY WRONG! "Quien" is the subject of "quien vino ayer", derived from "Una persona vino ayer", so "que" must be used here instead of "quien":

Esa es la persona que vino ayer

For other functions, "quien" is OK:

Esa es la persona para quien trabajo
Esa es la persona para la que trabajo

Here, the clause is derived from "(yo) trabajo para una persona", and since "persona" is part of a "complemento circunstancial", and it is not the subject, "quien" is fine, although "la que" is much more common, especially in spoken Spanish.

A degreed Spanish instructor told me that that "el que", etc., were relative pronouns, treated as a unit, and as such, el, la, etc., were not articles. I saw no reason to doubt him since Spanishdict.com's Reference article lists "que", "el que/el cual", and "lo que/lo cual" as separate entries, as if they were different pronouns, like it does with "quien" and "cuyo". Could this be a difference in opinion among grammar authorities, as exists in large fashion in English? I have English grammar books from my elementary school days that are directly reversed by that publisher's elementary grammars published 20 years later, and they attribute it to the "evolution" of the language. To what degree does this exist in the world of Spanish?

If it was a unit, it wouldn't be possible to omit the article, right? And yet, it is possible in certain cases:

Le dio la raqueta con que solía jugar.
Le dio la raqueta con la que solía jugar.

"Lo cual", on the other hand, always functions as a unit. Having said that, to some grammarians, "el que" is not a relative, but to others it is. I belong to the first group, but I am not going to give a full account here of the reasons why I see it this way.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
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That's very clear. And helpful. Thank you, Lazarus, for taking the time to educate us on this.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by hhmdirocco
0
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Even in English we say '... my friend that I saw yesterday,? but we use 'who(m)? to refer to proper nouns: 'a gift from Jessica, whom I saw yesterday.?

Just to elaborate a little bit we can use who(m) or that with defining relative clauses and only who(m) with non-defining relative clauses.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by Robert-Austin
0
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Okay...got it. Thank you.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
0
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Could you give us a few examples showing where "quien" is the better choice?

It is not a matter of being better, but being used more and being practically avoided in spoken Spanish. "Quien" sounds more formal most of the time.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
0
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(I said hello to my friend Yesica, **who **I saw yesterday.)

and why not whom?

Don't attribute that one to ME! I was just quoting the Spanishdict.com example. See my post above. I know the difference between the subjective case and the objective case.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by hhmdirocco
0
votes

Thank you for your answers, Lazarus.

  1. Would it not be better to say, "... a quien vi ayer", since we're referring to a person?

This is a typical problem for those who speak English, where "who" must be used for people and "what" for objects: "que" is used for objects and people alike, and actually, it is used for people much more frequently than "quien", which has many restrictions of use, and it sounds a bit too formal in some situations. Here, I would have chosen "a la que" over "quien" too, although the sentence sounds a bit strange anyway. I would simply say: Ayer vi a mi amiga Yésica y la saludé", which sounds simpler and more natural.

Yes, I thought that sentence sounded awkwardly invented to include a relative pronoun.

Also, I am aware that "que" many times refers to people. Even in English we say "... my friend that I saw yesterday," but we use "who(m)" to refer to proper nouns: "a gift from Jessica, whom I saw yesterday." I guess I should have taken the time to formulate my question well. I was asking if it is "better" to use the pronoun quien to refer to people, meaning more polite or more proper. I take it from your answer that it can be quite the opposite ("too formal"). Could you please expound upon this and talk about those restrictions?

  1. Is it not "Yésica"?

In theory, yes, but in practice people like the "glamour" of using the English spelling. This choice of name and spelling, in my city at least, is common among people with low education and/or taste; especially if they can't write properly and have never read a book in their lives.

But if they want the English spelling, then why don't they use it (Jessica), instead of just removing the accent?

I have found your observation to be true here, as well, and have even been "corrected" for using accents when writing a Hispanic person's name. "Héctor" tells me that the "e" in his name does not have an accent. El "Sr. Vázquez" pronounces his surname with the stress on the first syllabale, but insists that there is no accent over the "a".

  1. Why are examples not given showing the gender and number variations for these pronouns (la que/cual, las que/cuales, los que/cuales)? They are not even listed anywhere.

That pronoun never changes (it is always "que"). The only thing that changes is the article in front of it, which is not part of the pronoun.

I apologize. A degreed Spanish instructor told me that that "el que", etc., were relative pronouns, treated as a unit, and as such, el, la, etc., were not articles. I saw no reason to doubt him since Spanishdict.com's Reference article lists "que", "el que/el cual", and "lo que/lo cual" as separate entries, as if they were different pronouns, like it does with "quien" and "cuyo". Could this be a difference in opinion among grammar authorities, as exists in large fashion in English? I have English grammar books from my elementary school days that are directly reversed by that publisher's elementary grammars published 20 years later, and they attribute it to the "evolution" of the language. To what degree does this exist in the world of Spanish'

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by hhmdirocco
0
votes

This is a typical problem for those who speak English, where "who" must be used for people and "what" for objects...

I was doing this, too, until it was pointed out that "que" is used much more often.

.... "quien", which has many restrictions of use, and it sounds a bit too formal in some situations.

Could you give us a few examples showing where "quien" is the better choice'

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by --Mariana--
0
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(I said hello to my friend Yesica, **who **I saw yesterday.)

and why not whom'

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by 0074b507
0
votes
  1. Should it not be "... a la que vi ayer", if you're going to use that pronoun, since the antecedent is "amiga"?

Of course! "Al que" here is wrong.

  1. Would it not be better to say, "... a quien vi ayer", since we're referring to a person?

This is a typical problem for those who speak English, where "who" must be used for people and "what" for objects: "que" is used for objects and people alike, and actually, it is used for people much more frequently than "quien", which has many restrictions of use, and it sounds a bit too formal in some situations. Here, I would have chosen "a la que" over "quien" too, although the sentence sounds a bit strange anyway. I would simply say: Ayer vi a mi amiga Yésica y la saludé", which sounds simpler and more natural.

  1. Is it not "Yésica"?

In theory, yes, but in practice people like the "glamour" of using the English spelling. This choice of name and spelling, in my city at least, is common among people with low education and/or taste; especially if they can't write properly and have never read a book in their lives.

  1. Why are examples not given showing the gender and number variations for these pronouns (la que/cual, las que/cuales, los que/cuales)? They are not even listed anywhere.

That pronoun never changes (it is always "que"). The only thing that changes is the article in front of it, which is not part of the pronoun.

updated JUL 9, 2009
posted by lazarus1907
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