Quick answer
"What" is a pronoun which is often translated as "qué", and "how" is an adverb which is often translated as "cómo". Learn more about the difference between "what" and "how" below.
A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun (e.g. she).
1. (in questions)
a. qué
What do you want me to do?¿Qué quieres que haga?
b. cuál
What was the reason for Jim's departure?¿Cuál fue la razón por la que se fuera Jim?
c. cómo
What's the weather like where you are?¿Cómo está el tiempo donde estás tú?
What's their house like?¿Cómo es su casa?
2. (in relative clauses)
a. lo que
He smoked what he had left in the pipe.Se fumó lo que le quedaba en la pipa.
An adjective is a word that describes a noun (e.g. the big dog).
3. (in questions)
a. qué
What movie did you want to see?¿Qué película querías ver?
4. (in exclamations)
a. qué
What a nice day!¡Qué bonito día!
An interjection is a short utterance that expresses emotion, hesitation, or protest (e.g. Wow!).
5. (used to express surprise)
a. qué
What? That can't be true!¿Qué? ¡No puede ser verdad!
6. (not understanding)
a. qué
What? Speak louder, please.¿Qué? Hable más alto, por favor.
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An adverb is a word that describes a verb, an adjective, or other adverbs (e.g. to run quickly, very tired).
1. (manner)
a. cómo
How did you get here so quickly?¿Cómo llegaste tan rápido?
I don't know how to do this.No sé cómo hacer esto.
b. de qué manera
How did you put together the machine?¿De qué manera armaste la máquina?
2. (degree)
a. cuán
How tall is he?¿Cuán alto es?
It doesn't matter how talented you are; you must practice.No importa cuán talentoso seas; tienes que practicar.
b. qué tan
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
How sick is he?¿Qué tan enfermo está?
I don't know how tall he is.No sé qué tan alto es.
3. (state)
a. cómo
How is your grandmother today?¿Cómo está tu abuela hoy?
b. qué tal
How's the water?¿Qué tal el agua?
4. (in exclamations)
a. qué
How impressive!¡Qué impresionante!
A conjunction is a word that connects words, phrases, clauses, or sentences (e.g. The cat and the dog slept.).
5. (the way)
a. como
You can make the lasagna how you like. I trust you. I know you're a very good cook.Puedes hacer la lasaña como quieras. Confío en ti. Sé que eres muy buen cocinero.
A noun is a word referring to a person, animal, place, thing, feeling or idea (e.g. man, dog, house).
6. (way)
a. el cómo
(m) means that a noun is masculine. Spanish nouns have a gender, which is either feminine (like la mujer or la luna) or masculine (like el hombre or el sol).
If you don't know why, the how doesn't matter.Si no sabes por qué, el cómo no importa.
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