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Relative pronouns - Uses of the relative pronouns



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation

Introduction

Relative pronouns are words used to connect two or more ideas that could be expressed in independent clauses.

Here is a list of the Spanish relative pronouns:

1.- QUE
2.- QUIEN, QUIENES
3.- EL/LA/LOS/LAS QUE, EL/LA CUAL, LOS/LAS CUALES
4.- CUYO, CUYA, CUYOS, CUYAS
5.- LO CUAL
6.- LO QUE
7.- DONDE
8.- CUANTO, CUANTA, CUANTOS, CUANTAS

Notice that, in contrast with interrogative pronouns, relative pronouns don't have an accent.

Interrogative pronoun - introduces a question
¿Qué quieres para comer?
What do you want for lunch?

Relative pronoun - connects two ideas
El hombre que trajo la comida era chino.
The man who brought the food was Chinese.

Uses of the relative pronouns

QUE ---> is used for people and things
La casa que está en la esquina está encantada.
The house that is on the corner is haunted.

QUIEN, QUIENES ---> are only used for people
Mis amigos, quienes se casan mañana, llevan juntos diez años.
My friends, who are getting married tomorrow, have been together for 10 years.

EL/LA/LOS/LAS QUE, EL/LA CUAL, LOS/LAS CUALES ---> substitues "que" in formal situations.
Estos son los informes los cuales hay que enviar a las oficinas centrales.
These are the reports which have to be sent to the headquarters.

CUYO, CUYA, CUYOS, CUYAS ---> indicate possession
Mi jefe, cuyo despacho está al final del pasillo, está casado y tiene dos hijos.
My boss,whose office is at the end of the corridor, is married and has two kids.

LO CUAL, LO QUE ---> is used to talk about aforementioned ideas
Te voy a decir lo que me dijo Juan el otro día.
I'm going to tell you what Juan told me the other day.

DONDE ---> is used for places or locations
Este es el parque donde robaron a mi primo.
This is the park where my cousin got robbed.

CUANTO, CUANTA, CUANTOS, CUANTAS ---> are not used in spoken Spanish nowadays. They are replaced instead with TODO/A/OS/AS LO QUE
Te prestaré cuanto (todo lo que) necesites.
I'll lend you as much as you need.