Some interrogative pronouns in Spanish (qué (what), cómo (how), cuánto/a (how much), cuántos/as (how many), quién (who)) can be used in non-interrogative sentences, with exclamation marks (¡!), to express emotions (surprise, fear, pain, joy, anger, etc.), to indicate the large size or the high intensity of something, and to express the high amount or the high number of things:
|¡Qué + noun, adjective, or adverb!||¡Qué sorpresa!||What a surprise!|
|¡Qué interesante!||How interesting!|
|¡Qué bien!||How awesome!|
|¡Cómo + de + adjective!||¡Cómo de grande está tu hijo!||Your son has grown up so much!|
|¡Cómo + verb!||¡Cómo corren!||How they run!|
|¡Cuánto + verb or cuánto/a + noun!||¡Cuánto lo siento!||I am so sorry!|
|¡Cuánta luz!||So much light!|
|¡Cuántos/as + noun!||¡Cuántos gatos!||So many cats!|
|¡Quién + verb!||¡Quién tuviera tiempo!||If only I could have time!|
Are you ready to know more? Keep on reading.
Table of Contents
For a review of grammar terms used in the post, make sure to check out the Unpacking the grammar section at the end.
How to form exclamative sentences in Spanish?
Exclamative sentences use exclamative pronouns (qué (what), cómo (how), cuánto/a (how much), cuántos/as (how many), quién (who)), which need an accent to differentiate them from the Spanish relative pronouns. They also need exclamation points, both at the beginning and at the end of the sentence (¡!) to differentiate them from questions. Exclamative pronouns are typically placed at the beginning of a sentence or clause. Often times these expressions don’t have an explicit subject:
¡Qué raro! How odd!
However, when they do, the subject is placed after the verb:
¡Qué simpática es tu hermana! Your sister is so nice!
¡Cómo corren los niños! The kids run so much!
Need a refresher on how to place accents in Spanish? Click the link for more information!
Now, let’s explore how each of the pronouns is used.
‘¡Qué’ + noun/adjective/adverb!
¡Qué! (what) can be used with nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. It usually indicates the large size or the high intensity of something:
What a disaster!
Notice how, contrary to English, Spanish does not use an article between the pronoun (qué) and the noun.
¡Qué día! What a day!
¡Qué frío! It’s so cold!
¡Qué calor hace! It’s so hot!
¡Qué hambre tengo! I’m so hungry!
When the noun is followed by a verb, we can colloquially add a que before the verb in these expressions:
¡Qué hambre que tengo! I’m so hungry!
¡Qué rica comida!
What a delicious meal!
We can optionally insert más (more) or tan (as) to enhance the quality of the adjective that is modifying the noun. In this case, we switch the order of the words to: noun + más/tan + adjective. Tan and más can be used interchangeably.
¡Qué casa tan grande!
What a big house!
¡Qué clase más interesante!
What an interesting class!
¡Qué rápido comiste!
You ate so fast!
⤷TIP Sound like a native: Here are some useful everyday expressions with ¡qué! that you can start using in your conversations.
¡Qué padre/chido! (México) = ¡Qué chévere! (Caribbean) = ¡Qué chulo/guay! (Spain)
Awesome! or How cool!
‘¡Cómo’ + ‘de’ + adjective!
¡Cómo! (how) is used with the preposition de followed by an adjective to emphasize the quality described by the adjective:
¡Cómo de alto está tu hijo!
Your son has grown up so much! Literal: How tall is your son!
Notice how, contrary to English, Spanish does not use cómo followed by an adjective alone. As above, Spanish uses qué instead:
¡Qué grande! –
¡Cómo grande! ¡Cómo de grande!
‘¡Cómo’ + verb!
¡Cómo! is used with verbs to express the high intensity of the action described by the verb:
¡Cómo corren los caballos!
How the horses run!
How you lie!
⤷TIP Sound like a native: Here are some useful, colloquial, and frequently-used expressions with ¡cómo!
No way! (showing surprise)
Both ¡cuánto (how much) + verb! and ¡cuánto/a/s + noun! are typically used to express a high amount or a high number of things as you would use “so” in English:
- With verbs
Invariable ¡cuánto! is used with verbs:
¡Cuánto lo siento!
I am so sorry!
¡Cuánto dormiste anoche!
You slept so much last night!
- With nouns
¡Cuánto! is used with singular masculine nouns, whereas ¡cuánta! is used with singular feminine nouns:
So much love!
¡Cuánta gente hay aquí!
So many people here!
¡Cuántos! (how many) is used with plural masculine nouns, whereas we use ¡cuántas! with feminine plural nouns. Both are used to indicate a high number of things:
So many cats!
So many apples!
‘¡Quién’ + verb!
The pronoun ¡quién! (who) is used with verbs in the imperfect subjunctive. They normally express a desire:
¡Quién tuviera tiempo!
If only I could have time!
⤷TIP Sound like a native: Here’s a common expression used with ¡quién!
¡Quién como tú!
I wish I were you!
Now that you know how to use these words to show emotion, you might be interested in how to use Spanish interrogative words in questions, for that, we have a post!
Some interrogative pronouns can be used in non-interrogative exclamative sentences to express certain emotions:
- ¡Qué! is used with nouns, adjectives (and a combination of both), and adverbs. It indicates how big or intense something is.
¡Cómo! is used with both de + adjectives and with verbs. With de + adjectives, it’s used to intensify the meaning of the adjective. With verbs, it’s used to describe how intensely someone performed the action of the verb.
- ¡Cuánto! is used with verbs, whereas ¡cuánto/a! is used with masculine and feminine nouns, respectively. These expressions indicate a high amount or a high number of something.
¡Cuántos/as! are used with masculine and feminine plural nouns, respectively. We use these to indicate the high number of something.
- ¡Quién! is used with verbs to indicate the desire to achieve what the verb suggests.Ready to practice? Here’s a couple of activities with an answer key!
Ready to practice? Here’s a couple of activities with an answer key!
Nouns are words that represent people, things, animals, ideas, or actions, like “man,” “table,” “tiger,” “generosity.”
Adjectives are words that are used to describe something, including people, animals, things, places, or ideas. Adjectives are used to make many types of descriptions, such as stating the color, amount, category, appearance, or possession of something or someone.
a big tree, a delicious cake, a crowded place, an adorable child;
the school is new; He is our old teacher.
Adverbs are words that modify adjectives or verbs. In English, adverbs often have the suffix “-ly.”
- She is very clever.
- He runs quickly.
Relative pronouns are words that introduce relative clauses such as “that,” “who(m),” “which.” For example: I read a book that was interesting.
- In Spanish, they include words like: que (who/that/which), quien (who), el/la cual & los/las cuales (who/that/which). El libro que leí era interesante.