Where, when, how, and how much? Let’s learn how to ask some common questions in Spanish, as well as the adverbs you can use to answer them!
When? Where? How? Let’s learn a few more fun adverbs.
Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.
Today we’re going to learn several new adverbs. Adverbs are fun because they can just be stuck into a sentence either before or after the verb structure to change or add to the meaning, but without having to do too much with the grammar. So as a simple example, the word solo means “only”. This can be used in all kinds of ways. So here's one example.
I'm only going to do this.
Solo voy a hacer esto.
But we could change this to:
I'm going to do only this.
Voy a hacer solo esto.
This word is very versatile and quite easy to use, just like we use “only” or “just” in English. Just remember not to break up a verb structure with this word the way that we do in English. So for example, let’s say you want to say:
They have only gone that day.
In Spanish, the verbs “have gone” have to stay together. So we'll put the solo before that.
Solo han ido ese día.
So solo is pretty easy to use. But a tricky adverb to learn is the word tan, spelled t-a-n. This word roughly means “so”. But not exactly. It’s specifically used right before another descriptive word, kind of like muy is. So compare the following examples:
La casa es muy buena.
La casa es tan buena que…
OK so that second one isn’t a complete sentence; we left you hanging there. But basically the first one means “the house is very good”, but the second one means “the house is so good that…” So that’s how tan is used: Most of the time it’s translated into English as “so”.
But here’s what’s confusing: Sometimes it’s translated as “as”.
So in English we say as good as that one. But whenever this is translated into Spanish, you instead literally say so good as that one. Here’s another example. See if you can tell what’s being said.
Ella estaba tan bien como él.
This is “she was as well as he.”
So basically, tan is used in sort of a comparative way. Let’s practice this a bit, and we’ll start with an incomplete example.
This was so good that…
Esto era tan bueno que…
They have done it so badly!
¡Lo han hecho tan mal!
I was so unwell that I left.
Estaba tan mal que me fui.
The rest of the adverbs that we learn in this episode are going to be a bit simpler. Each one is going to ask or answer one of the following questions.
So let’s start by learning how you ask these questions in Spanish.
The word cuánto means “how much?” You might think of the English word “quantity”. This is spelled c-u-a-n-t-o, with an accent mark on the letter A. ¿Cuánto? Here’s an example of how you might use this.
How much are you going to do that?
¿Cuánto vas a hacer eso?
The very similar word cuándo is how you ask “when”. Now, we already learned a version of this word as a conjunction, for example, “I'm going to do it when he's here.” But this new version has an accent mark over the letter A, and it’s used for questions. For example:
When are you going to do that?
¿Cuándo vas a hacer eso?
Our next word is dónde, which is how you ask “where”. It’s spelled d-o-n-d-e, with an accent mark over the O. For example:
Where are you going to do that?
¿Dónde vas a hacer eso?
And our last question is cómo, which is how you ask “how”. It’s a lot like the word como that we learned earlier, to say “as” or “like”, but this one has an accent mark on the stressed O. For example:
How are you going to do that?
¿Cómo vas a hacer eso?
Let’s practice asking questions using all four of these adverbs.
Good evening! How are you?
¡Buenas noches! ¿Cómo estás?
How much has he done it this afternoon?
¿Cuánto lo ha hecho esta tarde?
That is the truth, but where are they?
Esa es la verdad, pero ¿dónde están?
In the next one, note that in some questions with this type of adverb, the subject noun actually often goes at the very end of the sentence. So see if you can phrase this one with the word señor at the very end.
When will the gentleman be here?
¿Cuándo estará aquí el señor?
Now let’s talk about some of the ways you might answer these questions.
If someone asks you a question using ¿cuánto?, or “how much?”, you already know how to say “more”. Here’s a basic exchange:
¿Cuánto lo has hecho?
Lo he hecho más que él.
But of course, there are many other ways you could answer this question. Instead of just saying that you’ve done it “more”, you could say, for example, that you’ve done it “a lot”. That would be mucho.
Lo he hecho mucho.
So try to predict the Spanish for this one:
Do you go a lot to that place?
¿Vas mucho a ese lugar?
Note that this is how mucho is most often used, right after the verb. So in English we often say “do you go to that place a lot”, but in Spanish it’s more often ¿Vas mucho a ese lugar?
Now suppose someone instead asks you:
Where have you been?
¿Dónde has estado?
You can of course answer with several prepositional phrases, such as en ese lugar or en tu casa. But you also have the adverb for “here”, which is aquí. There are many, many other adverbs that can answer location questions, and one is the word ahí, spelled a-h-i, with an accent mark over the I; this roughly means “there”. For example:
I haven’t gone there.
No he ido ahí.
Note that there are actually a couple of other ways to translate “there” into Spanish, and we’ll learn them soon, along with some of the nuances for choosing between them. But for the moment, you now have two adverbs you can use to answer a dónde question: aquí, meaning “here”, and ahí, roughly meaning “there”.
Next let’s imagine someone asks you cuándo, or “when”. One of the most common ways to answer that is with the word ahora, or “now”. But you might also want to say “always” or “never”. “Always” is siempre, spelled s-i-e-m-p-r-e, and “never” is nunca, spelled n-u-n-c-a. Note that nunca often uses double negatives, and sometimes it’s used where we would actually say “ever”, but in a negative way; for example, “she isn’t ever at home” is ella no está en casa nunca.
Let’s practice using these new adverbs.
The man isn’t ever here.
El hombre no está aquí nunca.
Good morning! Are you always here?
¡Buenos días! ¿Estás siempre aquí?
I don’t go there a lot.
No voy mucho ahí.
Actually, there’s never anyone here.
En verdad, nunca hay nadie aquí.
Now how about if someone asks you, “How have you done it?” or ¿Cómo lo has hecho? We already have a few adverbs for answering this: you can say “like this” using the word así. You can say “well” or “badly”, using bien or mal. And you can provide more description using the adverb como, followed by a noun or an entire phrase.
Another way to describe how you do something is with the word mejor, which means “better”. This is spelled m-e-j-o-r, and you can use it either by itself or with a que comparison after it. For example:
I have done it better than him.
Yo lo he hecho mejor que él.
Notice in that last example that in English, we say “than him”, but in Spanish, we say que él, literally “than he”. As you might have noticed, in Spanish, we always use subject pronouns after que in comparisons; you never say “than her” or “than us”. You instead say “than she” or “than we”.
As one last note before today’s quiz, you’ll see this term once or twice: a tiempo, which literally means “to time”, but it’s the most typical way to say “on time” in Spanish. For example:
We are going to go on time.
Vamos a ir a tiempo.
All right, let’s practice all of this with today’s final quiz.
How much do you love life?
¿Cuánto do you love la vida?
¿Cuánto amas la vida?
Hi! It’s good to see you, but I’m leaving now.
¡Hola! Es bueno to see you, pero me voy ahora.
¡Hola! Es bueno verte, pero me voy ahora.
You’re welcome! But, where is he?
¡De nada! Pero, ¿dónde está?
The young lady dances better than him.
La señorita dances mejor que él.
La señorita baila mejor que él.
We are leaving from there.
Nos vamos de ahí.
The truth is that the woman did it in case it was necessary.
La verdad es que la mujer lo did por si era necessary.
La verdad es que la mujer lo hizo por si era necesario.
Good afternoon! I’m only here to be with the Mrs.
¡Buenas tardes! Solo estoy aquí para estar con la señora.
I don’t have much time, the night is about to end.
No I have much tiempo, la noche está por to end.
No tengo mucho tiempo, la noche está por terminar.
How do you know if there will be enough?
¿Cómo do you know si habrá enough?
¿Cómo sabes si habrá suficiente?
You never leave on time.
Nunca te vas a tiempo.
Good evening! Was there a lady here?
¡Buenas noches! ¿Había una señora aquí?
Good morning and thank you for being here!
¡Buen día y gracias por estar aquí!
Really, there is going to be someone there.
De verdad, va a haber alguien ahí.
This year they are looking at themselves.
Este año se están looking.
Este año se están mirando.
She is always about to do something so interesting.
Siempre está por hacer algo tan interesting.
Siempre está por hacer algo tan interesante.
For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/49.
This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was provided by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.