The Ultimate Spanish Grammar Guide to Using ‘Quien’
Who are you? Who am I? If you’re learning Spanish, it’s essential to be able to communicate with regard to yourself and others.
This post is all about using the word for “who” and “whom” in Spanish: quien.
As with any foreign language, some aspects of Spanish grammar may seem intimidating before you have learned them. Luckily, the rules regarding quien are relatively straightforward and simple. Who’s with me?
Spanish Grammar Rules: Quien as a Relative Pronoun
A relative pronoun is simply a word that refers back to a noun. Common relative pronouns In English include that, which, who(m), and whose; in Spanish that list would contain que, el que, quien, cuyo, and others. Here are 4 basic guidelines to remember for using quien:
1. Quien means who (or whom) and can only refer to a person, not an animal, nor a place, idea, or thing.
2. Quien needs to match its antecedent (the “who” it refers to) in number. If the antecedent is singular, you use quien; if it is plural, you use quienes.
3. Quien and quienes are often used after prepositions like a, para, and con.
4. The relative pronoun quien is spelled the same as the interrogative word quién, minus the accent over the e.
Beware that if you use quien exactly like “who,” you could end up making Spanish grammar mistakes like these:
- El hombre quien amo no me conoce. – The man I love doesn’t know me.
- Estos son los hermanos quienes vinieron ayer. – These are the brothers who came yesterday.
- No conozco a nadie quien sepa hablar ruso. – I don’t know anyone who can speak Russian.
These sentences seem fine, but they are actually incorrect! The rule of thumb is to always use que, even with people, unless you have a preposition. Use quien when you have a one-word preposition or para before the relative pronoun.
Such as: El hombre de quien hablas es mi tío. – The man you are talking about is my uncle.
(De is the preposition that tips us off to use quien.)
Remember, the antecedent must be a person.
Here are some more grammatically correct examples:
- Las mujeres con quienes está Laura han llegado. – The women Laura is with have arrived.
- Las chicas a quienes regalé libros son amiga. – The girls I gave books to are friends.
- A quien pueda interesar, / A quien corresponda: – To whom it may concern, as used in formal letters
- El que fue ayer fue quien lo hizo. – He who went yesterday (was the one who) did it.
- Las mujeres de quienes hablo son guatemaltecas. – The women of whom I speak about are Guatemalan.
- ¿Dónde están los niños a quienes les conté el cuento? – Where are the children to whom I told the story?
- Mi tía, quien es enfermera, me va a visitar. – My aunt, who is a nurse, is going to visit me.
Spanish Grammar Rules: Quien as a Question Word
Quien is also an interrogative pronoun, which is a fancy way of saying “question word.” Here are some ways to ask about who someone is and what they have done.
¿Quién eres? – Who are you? (singular)
¿Quiénes son ustedes? – Who are you? (plural)
¿Quién habla? – Who is speaking?
¿Quién llamó a la vecina? – Who called the neighbor?
Using Quien After a Preposition
¿A quién viene a ver? – Whom are you here to see?
¿A quiénes pediste un favor? – Whom did you ask a favor of?
¿De quién es el lápiz? – Whose pencil is this?
¿De quiénes son estos papeles? – Whose papers are these?
¿Alguien conoce a Julia, de quien está enamorado Rafa? – Does anyone know Julia, whom Rafa is in love with?
Dichos con Quién
A dicho is defined as a constructed phrase that contains a maxim, observation or piece of common sense advice. Take a look at these 7 Spanish sayings that include the word quien.
1. Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres. – Tell me who you hang out with, and I’ll tell you who you are.
2. Haz el bien sin mirar a quién. – Do good no matter who is watching.
3. Quien no te conozca que te compre. – If someone doesn’t know you he/she can buy you.
4. Quien mucho abarca poco aprieta. – Don’t bite off more than you can chew./Don’t spread yourself too thin. (Literally: “One who covers a lot squeezes out very little.”)
5. A quien madruga Dios lo ayuda. – The early bird gets the worm. (Literally: “God helps those who wake early.”)
6. Quien canta sus males espanta. – S/he who sings drives her/his worries away.
7. Quien siembra vientos, cosecha tempestades. – You reap what you sow. (Literally: “He who sows wind reaps storms.”)
¿Quien Quiere Aprender Español?
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