Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

15.11: Los pronombres relativos

  • Page ID
    50030
  • Objetivos

    • Recognize and understand the relative pronouns “que”, “donde” and “quien”

    Little by little you have started to write longer sentences in the present and past tenses. You learned quite some time ago how to use question words such as “¿qué?”, “¿dónde?” and “¿quién?” or “¿quiénes?” and you know how to formulate many questions. Now you will learn how to use a form of those same words, but not to ask questions—instead you will use these words to combine two ideas into a longer sentence: you will turn question words into relative pronouns.

    It is important to notice that all question words have an accent mark, and that accent mark is omitted when they are relative pronouns. Here are the three relative pronouns that you will be learning in this chapter:

    • Play Audioque (that, who, which)
    • Play Audiodonde (where)
    • Play Audioquien / Play Audioquienes (who, whom)

    A. que

    Here is a simple question:

    • Play Audio¿Cuál es el desierto de sal más grande del mundo? → Es el desierto de Bolivia.

    We can use the word “que” to combine the answer with the question in various ways, creating complex sentences:

    • Play AudioBolivia es el país que tiene el desierto de sal más grande del mundo. (Bolivia is the country that has the largest salt desert in the world.)
    • Play AudioEl desierto de sal que está en Bolivia es el más grande del mundo. (The salt desert that is in Bolivia is the biggest in the world.)

    B. donde

    The same can be done when the sentence talks about where something is:

    • Play Audio¿Dónde está el desierto de sal más grande del mundo?
      Play AudioBolivia es el país donde está el desierto de sal más grande del mundo. (Bolivia is the country where the world’s largest salt desert is.)

    C. quien / quienes

    You should remember that the question word in Spanish for “who” has a singular and a plural; this is also true of the relative pronoun in Spanish for “who” or “whom”. As in English, these words can only be used to talk about human beings.

    Here are some questions that involve people:

    • Play Audio¿Dónde conociste a los profesores? → Play Audioen una conferencia
    • Play Audio¿Quiénes visitaron Bolivia? → Play Audiolos estudiantes de español y ciencias políticas
    • Play Audio¿Qué vieron los estudiantes en Bolivia? → Play Audioel desierto de sal
    • Play Audio¿Quién llevó a los estudiantes a Bolivia? → Play Audiouna profesora de español y uno de ciencias políticas

    Now some complex sentences that combine the information:

    • Play AudioLos profesores, a quienes conocí en una conferencia, visitaron Bolivia con sus estudiantes. (The professors, whom I met at a conference, visited Bolivia with their students.)
    • Play AudioLos estudiantes de español y ciencias políticas, quienes visitaron Bolivia, vieron el desierto de sal más grande del mundo. (The Spanish and Political Science students, who visited Bolivia, saw the largest salt desert in the world.)
    • Play AudioLa profesora, quien llevó a los estudiantes a Bolivia, enseña español. (The female professor, who brought the students to Bolivia, teaches Spanish.)
    • Play AudioEl profesor, quien enseña ciencias políticas, llevó a los estudiantes a Bolivia con una profesora de español. (The male professor, who teaches Political Science, brought the students to Bolivia with a Spanish professor.)

    It is possible to use multiple relative pronouns in a single sentence: Spanish has a much higher tolerance for long sentences than English does! For example:

    • Play AudioEl profesor, quien enseña ciencias políticas, llevó a los estudiantes a Bolivia, donde hay un desierto de sal que es realmente impresionante. (The professor, who teaches political sciences, brought the students to Bolivia, where there is a salt desert that is really impressive.)
    CC licensed content, Original
    • Gramu00e1tica: Los pronombres relativos. Authored by: SUNY Oneonta with Lumen Learning. License: CC BY: Attribution
    • Was this article helpful?