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Lesson
Quiz 1
Quiz 2

Relative pronouns - Que, Quien and Quienes



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

QUE

The relative pronoun que is used in sentences in which the antecedent is a person or a thing. The sentence introduced by the relative pronoun que helps to clarify or specify the idea expressed on the main sentence.

El niño tiene problemas de salud.
The kid has health issues.

El niño que tiene sobrepeso tiene problemas de salud.
The kid who is overweight has health issues.

The sentence is more specific with the relative clause introduced by the relative pronoun because now we know what specific kid we are talking about.

QUIEN, QUIENES

The relative pronouns quien, quienes are used in sentences in which the antecedent is a person, but the sentence has to be a explanatory sentence, a sentence that explains something about the antecedent. The sentence introduced by the relative pronoun quien or quienes also helps to clarify or specify the idea expressed on the main sentence, but this relative clause has to be separated by commas.

La secretaría, quien acaba de entrar a trabajar en la empresa, es muy eficiente.
The secreatry, who recently started working in the company, is very efficient.

Mis abuelos, quienes tienen mucho dinero, han comprado una casa en el Tirol austríaco.
My grandparents, who have a lot of money, have bought a house in the Austrian Tyrol.

In all these examples, "quien" and "quienes" can be substituted for "que".

We can only use "quien, quienes" and not "que" when the relative clause is preceded by a preposition.

La chica con que estabas bailando es muy guapa. - INCORRECT
La chica con quien estabas bailando es muy guapa. -CORRECT
The girl you were dancing with / with whom you were dancing is very pretty.

As we'll see in the following lessons, it is possible to use "el, la, los, las que/cual" instead of "quien, quienes" when the relative clause is preceded by a preposition.

La chica con la que/cual estabas bailando es muy guapa.