Ways To Say What In Spanish

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Written By Jessica Knight

Founder of Linguatics. Passionate multilinguist.

Are you looking to expand your Spanish vocabulary and express yourself more effectively? In this article, we will guide you through the various ways to say ‘what’ in Spanish. By learning different phrases and expressions, you will be able to confidently communicate and understand others in a variety of situations.

Whether you’re a beginner or advanced learner, we have you covered. We will cover both formal and informal ways to say ‘what,’ as well as alternative words and regional variations. Additionally, we will explore idioms, slang, and common expressions that incorporate ‘what’ in Spanish.

With our helpful tips and guidance, you will be able to practice and master these phrases, enhancing your language skills and fluency. Get ready to take your Spanish to the next level as we dive into the diverse ways to say ‘what’ in Spanish.

How to Ask ‘What’ in Spanish

When you want to ask ‘What’ in Spanish, you can simply say ‘Qué.’

This versatile word can be used in various contexts to inquire about something or seek clarification.

Whether you’re asking about a person, an object, or an action, ‘Qué’ is the go-to phrase.

It’s important to note that the pronunciation of the ‘Q’ is similar to the English ‘K’ sound.

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So next time you’re curious, just say ‘Qué’ and get the information you need.

Basic Phrases for ‘What’ in Spanish

Imagine yourself in a bustling market in a vibrant Spanish-speaking country, and you’re trying to ask someone what something is called. To communicate effectively, you need to know some basic phrases for ‘what’ in Spanish.

One common phrase is ‘¿Cómo se llama esto?’ which means ‘What is this called?’

Another useful phrase is ‘¿Qué es esto?’ which means ‘What is this?’

These phrases will help you navigate the market and engage in meaningful conversations with locals.

Formal and Informal Ways to Say ‘What’

Walking through the vibrant market, you’ll encounter various ways to ask ‘what’ in Spanish, both formally and informally, allowing you to immerse yourself in engaging conversations with the locals.

When speaking formally, you can use ‘¿Qué?’ or ‘¿Qué es?’.

On the other hand, when speaking informally, you can use ‘¿Qué pasa?’, ‘¿Qué tal?’, or ‘¿Qué onda?’.

These phrases will help you navigate different social contexts and connect with native speakers in a meaningful way.

Common Expressions for ‘What’ in Spanish

To fully immerse yourself in engaging conversations with the locals, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the common expressions for ‘what’ in Spanish. These expressions include:

  • ‘¿qué?’ which is the most common and versatile way to say ‘what’
  • ‘¿cómo?’ which means ‘how’
  • ‘¿cuál?’ which is used to ask for a specific choice or option

Remember to use these expressions appropriately to enhance your Spanish-speaking skills and make your conversations more natural and fluid.

Alternative Words for ‘What’ in Spanish

There are various alternative expressions in Spanish to convey the meaning of ‘what’, such as ‘qué cosa’, ‘cuánto’, and ‘cómo es’.

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These expressions can be used in different contexts to ask for clarification or information.

‘Qué cosa’ is used to ask for the identity of an object or person.

‘Cuánto’ is used to ask for the quantity or price of something.

‘Cómo es’ is used to ask for a description or characteristics of something or someone.

Understanding Context in Using ‘What’ in Spanish

Familiarizing yourself with the appropriate context for using ‘what’ in Spanish can greatly enhance your ability to effectively communicate and connect with native speakers.

In Spanish, there are different ways to express ‘what’ depending on the situation. For example, ‘qué’ is used to ask for information or clarification, while ‘cuál’ is used to inquire about choices or preferences.

Understanding these nuances will help you navigate conversations with confidence and accuracy.

Regional Variations in Saying ‘What’ in Spanish

Regional variations in saying ‘what’ in Spanish can be seen through the different ways ‘what’ is expressed depending on the specific region or country.

In Spain, the common word for ‘what’ is ‘qué,’ while in Latin America, ‘qué’ is also used, but ‘cómo’ or ‘cuál’ may be used as well.

Additionally, some regions in Latin America may use specific regional slang or expressions to convey the meaning of ‘what.’

It’s fascinating to see how language can vary within a single language.

Using ‘What’ in Different Situations

In different situations, using ‘what’ can be a game-changer for understanding Spanish conversation.

When asking for clarification, you can use ‘¿Qué?’ which means ‘what?’ This is useful when you didn’t catch what someone said or when you want them to repeat something.

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Another way to say ‘what’ is ‘¿Cómo?’ which means ‘how?’ This is used when asking about the way something is done or the method to achieve a certain outcome.

Idioms and Slang for ‘What’ in Spanish

Discover the fascinating world of idioms and slang used to express ‘what’ in Spanish, and be amazed by the richness and creativity of the language.

From the common phrase ‘¿Qué tal?’ meaning ‘What’s up?’ to the playful ‘¿Qué onda?’ which translates to ‘What wave?’, Spanish offers a multitude of colorful expressions.

Whether it’s ‘¿Qué pasó?’ for ‘What happened?’ or ‘¿Qué te cuentas?’ for ‘What’s new with you?’, these idioms and slang add a dynamic and vibrant flair to everyday conversations.

Tips for Practicing and Mastering ‘What’ in Spanish

Get ready to level up your Spanish skills with these helpful tips on how to practice and master expressing ‘what’ in Spanish.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can improve and confidently use these expressions in everyday conversations.

To start, immerse yourself in Spanish-speaking environments, such as watching movies or listening to music in Spanish.

Additionally, practice with native speakers or language exchange partners to refine your pronunciation and understanding of different contexts.

Keep practicing and soon you’ll be fluent!


In conclusion, understanding how to say ‘what’ in Spanish is essential for effective communication. By learning the basic phrases, formal and informal ways, common expressions, alternative words, regional variations, and idioms for ‘what,’ you can navigate various situations confidently.

Practicing and mastering these different uses of ‘what’ will greatly enhance your Spanish language skills. So, keep practicing and soon you’ll be able to effortlessly express yourself and understand others when using the word ‘what’ in Spanish.