Grammar - Asking a Question

This Spanish Easy Review grammar quiz takes a look at asking a question. How do people learn anything? They simply ask questions - lots and lots of questions. In English when we ask a question we use the question mark (?) to show that the sentence is a question. Spanish also uses the question mark (?) only it uses two question marks when writing. The first question mark comes at the very beginning of the sentence that will ask the question. This alerts the reader that a question is coming. However, the question mark that comes before the sentence is reversed and upside down as follows: ¿ The second question mark comes at the end of the sentence just as it does in English.

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When writing Spanish, if you do not include both question marks in a sentence that is asking a question, the sentence structure itself will be wrong. For example, let’s look at 'cómo está'. This is asking, 'How are you?'. In Spanish when written it should look as follows:

¿Cómo está?

If it were written as simply 'Cómo está?' (missing the first question mark), the sentence structure would be incorrect. For this quiz, however, we will just be looking at the question words themselves and not in the context of a sentence. You should be aware, however, of the correct usage of question words in a sentence. Therefore, in separate quizzes, showing the use of the Spanish question marks in simple sentences will demonstrate the punctuation mark's usage. For now, let's look at some question words.

English Spanish Pronounced (Phonetically) As:
who quién key-ěn
what qué kāy
how cómo cō-mō (As the first 'o' has an accent mark, its sounds is stronger than the second 'o'.)
where dónde don-day
when cuándo kwan-dō
why por qué poor kāy
which cuál kwal
how many cuántos kwan-tōs

Below are ten questions. From the list of answers, see if you can determine which one is the correct Spanish word for the capitalized question word.

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  1. WHY didn’t you ask me for some help?
    The Spanish question word for why is por qué. Notice that is is made up of two words that would literally translate as: for what?
  2. WHEN do you think you will be ready?
    The Spanish question word for when is cuándo.
  3. WHAT time to we have to be at the theater?
    The Spanish question word for what is qué.
  4. WHERE did I put my sewing needles?
    The Spanish question word for where is dónde.
  5. HOW am I ever going to get finished in time?
    The Spanish question word for how is cómo.
  6. WHO are you going to the prom with?
    The Spanish question word for who is quién.
  7. WHICH plant should I buy for my window?
    The Spanish question word for which is cuál.
  8. HOW MANY candy bars have you eaten?
    The Spanish question word for how many is cuántos.
  9. The Spanish question word DÓNDE means ____.
    The Spanish word dónde means where.
  10. The Spanish question word POR QUÉ means ____.
    The Spanish question word porqué means why.

Author: Christine G. Broome

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