Grammar Guide
What Does "¿Qué pasa?" Mean?

What Does "¿Qué pasa?" Mean?

Quick Answer

¿Qué pasa?  = What's up?, What's going on? or What's the matter?

What Does ¿Qué pasa? Mean in English?

Even if you are a beginner at Spanish, you may have already encountered the phrase ¿Qué pasa? . The verb pasar  means to happen, so this phrase literally translates as What happens?, though in English you would typically say What's up? or What's going on? to greet someone you know. ¡Ojo!  (Watch out!) This phrase is very colloquial, so it is rarely appropriate to use in formal settings. Check out the examples below to see ¿Qué pasa? in action!

¡Hola! ¿Qué pasa, amigo?
Hi! What's up, buddy?
¿Qué pasa, tío? - No mucho. ¿Qué pasa contigo?
What's up, dude? - Not much. What's up with you?

Just as many English speakers embellish the question What's up? with What's up, buttercup?, many Spanish speakers use the playful rhyme, ¿Qué pasa, calabaza?  (Literally, What's up, pumpkin?).

Other Uses of ¿Qué pasa?

In addition to What's up?, ¿Qué pasa? can also mean What's wrong? or What's the matter?, depending on the context. Take a look at the following examples:

Parece que estás depre. ¿Qué pasa?
It seems like you're depressed. What's wrong?
¿Qué pasa? ¿No te gusta el regalo?
What's wrong? You don't like the gift?

¿Qué pasa? vs. ¿Qué pasó?

¡Cuidado  (Careful!) The expression ¿Qué pasó  looks very similar to ¿Qué pasa?, but it means something slightly different. Pasó  is the preterite form of the verb pasar, so this phrase actually translates as What happened?

Now that you've learned more about the question Qué pasa?, check out this article to learn more about how to respond!

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