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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 adjective is a word that describes a noun (e.g. the big dog).
1. (in questions)
a. qué
what sort do you want?¿qué tipo quieres?
tell me what books you wantdime qué libros quieres
what color/size is it?¿de qué color/talla or
what good is that?¿de qué sirve eso?
2. (in relative constructions)
he took what little I had leftcogió lo poco que me quedaba
I'll give you what money I havete daré todo el dinero que tengo
A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun (e.g. she).
3. (in questions)
a. qué
what do you want?¿qué quieres?
what are you doing here?¿qué haces aquí?
what's that?¿qué es eso?
what's that to you?¿a ti qué te importa?
what's to be done about this problem?¿qué podríamos hacer para resolver este problema?
what did I tell you?¿qué te dije?
what will people say?¿qué va a decir la gente?
what's the Spanish for “dog”?¿cómo se dice “dog” en español?
what's he/she/it like?¿cómo es?
what about the money I lent you?¿y el dinero que te presté?
what about a game of bridge?¿te apetece, te provoca, se te antoja, querés echar una partida de bridge?
what about me?¿y yo qué?
if that doesn't work, what then?y si eso no funciona, ¿qué?
4. (colloquial)
so what?, what of it?¿y qué?
5. (colloquial)
d'you think I'm mad or what?¿te crees que estoy loco o qué?
6. (colloquial)
paper, pens, pencils, and what not or what have youpapel, bolígrafos, lápices y toda la pesca
7. (relative)
a. qué
I don't know what has happenedno sé qué ha pasado
what is most remarkable is that…lo más sorprendente es que…
what I like is a good detective storylo que más me gusta son las novelas policíacas
8. (colloquial)
he knows what's whattiene la cabeza sobre los hombros, bien puesta
9. (colloquial)
to give somebody what fordarle a alguien para el pelo
what for?¿para qué?
what's that for?¿para qué es eso?
what did he do that for?¿por qué hizo eso?
tell me what you're crying fordime por qué lloras
10. (in exclamations)
what an idea!¡menuda idea!
what a fool he is!¡qué tonto es!
what a lot of people!¡cuánta gente!
An interjection is a short utterance that expresses emotion, hesitation, or protest (e.g. Wow!).
11. (general)
what? you didn't check the dates?¿qué? ¿que no comprobaste las fechas?
what next (I ask myself)!¡(me pregunto) con qué saldrán ahora!
Copyright © 2006 Harrap Publishers Limited
what [wɒt]
1 (in direct questions)
In direct questions, [what] can generally be translated by [qué] with an accent:
what do you want now? ¿qué quieres ahora?; what's in here? ¿qué hay aquí dentro?; what is it now? y ahora ¿qué?
what does he owe his success to? to what does he owe his success? ¿a qué debe su éxito?
what's a tractor, Daddy? ¿qué es un tractor, papá?; what are capers? ¿qué son las alcaparras?
Only use [¿qué es...?]/[¿qué son...?] to translate [what is]/[are] when asking for a [definition]. In other contexts use [¿cuál es?]/[¿cuáles son?]:
what's the capital of Finland? ¿cuál es la capital de Finlandia?; what's her telephone number? ¿cuál es su número de teléfono?
what were the reasons behind her decision?
what were the greatest problems? ¿cuáles eran los mayores problemas?
However, not all expressions with [what] should be translated literally. Some require [qué] used adjectivally:
what is the difference? ¿qué diferencia hay?; what are your plans? ¿qué planes tienes?
what were the causes? what are the advantages? what are the commonest mistakes students make?
what's the Spanish for "pen"? ¿cómo se dice "pen" en español?; what's your name? ¿cómo te llamas?
that pub, what's its name?
(how much) cuánto
what will it cost? ¿cuánto va a costar?; what does it weigh? ¿cuánto pesa?; what's nine times five? ¿cuánto es nueve por cinco?
(what did you say) cómo; qué
what? I didn't catch that ¿cómo? or ¿qué?, no he entendido eso; what did you say? ¿cómo or qué dices?; ¿qué has dicho?; ¿qué dijiste?; (LAm)
(Britain) (as question tag) verdad
it's getting late, what? se está haciendo tarde ¿no? or ¿verdad?
2 (in indirect questions)
In most cases, translate the pronoun [what] using either [qué] with an accent or [lo que] without an accent:
qué; lo que
he asked her what she thought of it le preguntó qué or lo que pensaba de ello
I asked him what DNA was le pregunté qué or lo que era el ADN
Use [cuál era]/[cuáles son] etc instead of [lo que era]/[lo que son] etc if [what was]/[are] etc does not relate to a definition:
she asked me what my hobbies were me preguntó cuáles eran mis hobbys
please explain what you saw por favor, explique qué or lo que vio
can you explain what's happening? ¿me puedes explicar (qué es) lo que está pasando?
will you explain what's happening? he explained what he'd said
he explained what it was explicó qué era or lo que era
did you hear what he said? I can't hear what he's saying please can you [find out] what's happening
do you know what's happening? ¿sabes qué or lo que está pasando?
I don't know what's happening no sé qué está pasando; no sé (qué es) lo que está pasando
tell me what happened cuéntame qué or lo que ocurrió
do you understand what he's saying? I [wonder] what will happen I wonder what they think he asked me what she said tell us what you're thinking about I wonder what they need I wonder what they are expecting I don't know who's doing what
(how much) cuánto
he asked her what she had paid for it le preguntó cuánto había pagado por ello
3 (before an infinitive) qué
I don't know what to do no sé qué hacer
4 (relative use) lo que
what I want is a cup of tea lo que quiero es una taza de té
that's not what I asked for
it wasn't what I was expecting no era lo que yo me esperaba; do what you like haz lo que quieras; business isn't what it was los negocios ya no son lo que eran; I've no clothes except what I'm wearing no tengo ropa, aparte de lo que llevo puesto; I saw what happened vi lo que pasó; she told him what she thought of it le dijo lo que pensaba de ello
I didn't [understand] what he said
5 (in exclamations)
what it is to be rich and famous! ¡lo que es ser rico y famoso!
what's done is done lo hecho hecho está
6 (in set expressions)
and what have you or what not y qué sé yo qué más; y qué sé yo cuántas cosas más
the cupboard was full of empty boxes, old toys and what have you
to give sb what for regañar a algn
know what
it was full of cream, jam, chocolate and I don't know what estaba lleno de nata, mermelada, chocolate y no sé cuántas cosas más; you know what? I think he's drunk creo que está borracho, ¿sabes?; I know what, let's ring her up se me ocurre una idea, vamos a llamarla por teléfono
to know what's what saber cuántas son cinco (informal)
he knows what's [what] sabe cuántas son cinco
or what?
do you want it or what? ¿lo quieres o qué?; are you coming or what? entonces ¿vienes o no?; I mean, is this sick, or what? vamos, que es de verdadero mal gusto, ¿o no?; is this luxury or what? esto sí que es lujo, ¿eh?
say what you like, ... digas lo que digas, ...; se diga lo que se diga, ....
say what you like, he's still the best footballer we've ever had in this country say what he will
so what? ¿y qué?
so what if it does rain? ¿y qué, si llueve?; so what if he is gay? ¿y qué (pasa) si es gay?; ¿y qué importa que sea gay?
(I'll) tell you what se me ocurre una idea; tengo una idea
tell you what, let's stay here another day tell you what, if you help me to sort out the drawer, I'll write the letter for you
what about
what about me? y yo ¿qué?; what about next week? ¿qué te parece la semana que viene?; "your car ..." — "what about it?" —tu coche ... —¿qué pasa con mi coche?; what about going to the cinema? ¿qué tal si vamos al cine?; ¿y si vamos al cine?; what about lunch, shall we go out? ¿y para comer? ¿salimos fuera? or ¿qué tal si salimos fuera?; what about people who haven't got cars? ¿y la gente que no tiene coche?
what about the danger involved?
what for? (why) ¿por qué?; (to what purpose) ¿para qué?
what are you doing that for? ¿por or para qué haces eso?; what's that button for? ¿para qué es ese botón?
what if ...? ¿y si ...?
what if this doesn't work out? ¿y si esto no funciona?; what if he says no? ¿y si dice que no?
what if it rains?
what of
but what of the political leaders? pero, ¿y qué hay de los líderes políticos?; what of it? y eso ¿qué importa?
then there's the question of your behaviour during the meeting - what of it?
what's ...
what's surprising is that we hadn't heard of this before lo sorprendente es que no nos habíamos enterado antes
what's it like? (asking for description) ¿cómo es?; (asking for evaluation) ¿qué tal es?
what's their new house like? ¿cómo es su nueva casa?; what's his first novel like? ¿qué tal es su primera novela?
what's the new headmistress like? asking for description asking for evaluation what's she like?
what will the weather be like tomorrow? ¿qué tal tiempo va a hacer mañana?
and what's more ... y, además, ...
what's that? (asking about sth) ¿qué es eso?; (what did you say?) ¿qué has dicho?
what's that? - it's a modem
mumble mumble mumble - what's that?
what's that to you? ¿eso qué tiene que ver contigo?; ¿a ti qué te importa? (informal)
I've done this job long enough to know what's what
what's worse
and what's worse ... y lo que es peor ...
what with
what with one thing and another entre una cosa y otra; what with the stress and lack of sleep, I was in a terrible state entre la tensión y la falta de sueño me encontraba fatal
what with the suitcase and his bike he could hardly ...
1 (in direct and indirect questions) qué
what dress shall I wear? ¿qué vestido me pongo?; what colour is it? ¿de qué color es?
what sort of ...?
she asked me what day she should come me preguntó qué día tenía que venir
he explained what ingredients are used explicó qué ingredientes se usan
what good would that do? ¿de qué serviría eso?
do you know what music they're going to play? ¿sabes qué música van a tocar?
did they tell you what time they'd be arriving? ¿te dijeron a qué hora llegarían?
she [told] me what colour it was
2 (relative)
what savings we had are now gone los ahorros que teníamos ya han desaparecido; I will give you what information we have te daré la información que tenemos; I gave him what money/coins I had le di todo el dinero/todas las monedas que tenía; I gave her what comfort I could la consolé en lo que pude
I gave them what advice I could
they packed what few belongings they had hicieron la maleta con las pocas pertenencias que tenían; what little I had lo poco que tenía
with what money I have buy what food you like
3 (in exclamations)
Remember to put an accent on [qué] in exclamations as well as in direct and indirect questions:
what a nuisance! ¡qué lata!; what a fool I was! ¡qué tonto fui!; what an ugly dog! ¡qué perro más or tan feo!; what a lot of people! ¡qué cantidad de gente!; what an excuse! ¡buen pretexto!; ¡vaya excusa!
what rotten luck! what a nice surprise! what a ridiculous suggestion! what a beautiful boat! what a nightmare! what lovely hair you've got!
what! you sold it! ¿qué? ¡lo has vendido!; what! you expect me to believe that! ¿qué? ¿esperas que me crea eso?; what! he can't be a spy! ¿qué? ¿cómo va a ser un espía?; you told him what? ¿que le has dicho qué?; "he's getting married" — "what!" se casa — ¿cómo dices?
you what?
"I'm going to be an actress" — "you what?" —voy a hacerme actriz —¿cómo or qué dices?; I'm going to have a baby — you what? —voy a tener un niño —¡¿que vas a tener un qué?!
it's raining — you what?
Collins Complete Spanish Electronic Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers 2011
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