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Quick answer
"Qué" is a pronoun which is often translated as "what", and "por qué" is a phrase which is often translated as "why". Learn more about the difference between "qué" and "por qué" below.
A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun (e.g. she).
1. (interrogative)
a. what
¿Qué estás haciendo?What are you doing?
2. (exclamatory)
a. what
¿Sabías que Tina y Héctor se dejaron? - ¡Qué va!Did you know that Tina and Hector broke up? - Wait, what!
An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
3. (exclamatory)
a. how
¿Puedes creer qué genial es esta serie?Can you believe how amazing this series is?
An adjective is a word that describes a noun (e.g. the big dog).
4. (interrogative)
a. what
¿Qué hora es?What time is it?
5. (exclamatory)
a. what
¡Qué piernas tan largas tienes!What long legs you have!
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por qué(
A phrase is a group of words commonly used together (e.g once upon a time).
1. (in direct interrogative clauses)
a. why (adverb)
¿Por qué no te gustan las guayabas?Why don't you like guavas?
2. (in indirect interrogative clauses)
a. why (adverb)
Me gustaría saber por qué los gatos ronronean.I would like to know why cats purr.
3. (in exclamations)
a. what (pronoun)
¡Por qué cascadas más hermosas pasó la lancha!What beautiful waterfalls the skiff passed through!
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