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Published on: Grammar Bites

Learn the difference between ‘cualquiera’ & ‘cualesquiera’

Cualquier, cualquiera and cualesquiera are words that we use to refer to a non-specific person or thing. These words can act as adjectives or pronouns.

Note that these words won’t always have a perfect equivalent in English: 

Cualquiera:

1. It’s an adjective that can follow a singular, masculine or feminine noun:

  • Pásame un libro CUALQUIERA. Hand me over any book. (It doesn’t matter which book you hand me over.)
  • Ustedes tienen que elegir una fecha CUALQUIERA para el examen. You have to choose a date for the exam. (Any date will be fine).

2. If ‘cualquiera’ goes in front of a singular, masculine or feminine noun, we use the short form ‘cualquier’. In this case, ‘cualquier’ is also acting as an adjective:

  • Pásame CUALQUIER libro. Hand me over any book.
  • Ustedes tienen que elegir CUALQUIER fecha para el examen. You have to choose a date for the exam.

3. We use ‘cualquiera’ as a singular pronoun when it’s replacing both the adjective and the noun:

  • – ¿Cuál de estas blusas quieres que te preste? Which of these blouses do you want to borrow?
  • – Por favor, préstame CUALQUIERA porque todas parecen bonitas. Please let me borrow any of them; they all look nice.
  • – ¿Cuál color me queda bien con este pantalón negro? Which color do you think works best with these black pants?
  • – Te queda bien CUALQUIERA porque son colores frescos. Any of these colors will work because they’re all cool colors.

4. We can use use ‘cualquiera’ as a synonym of the phrase TODO EL MUNDO (everybody/everyone):

  • CUALQUIERA puede usar una computadora. Any one can use a computer.
  • TODO EL MUNDO puede usar una computadora. Everyone can use a computer.

5. On occasion, we can use UN / UNA CUALQUIERA to indicate that something or someone is not important. We have to be careful with this use because it has a negative connotation; ie, it’s not polite.

Cualesquiera:

It’s a plural pronoun. Although we don’t use this pronoun often in conversation, you can find it regularly in texts:

  • ¿Qué asientos debemos escoger en el cine? Which seats should we get at the movies?
  • CUALESQUIERA que escojan, está bien para mí. (En este caso, se refiere a los asientos). Whatever seats you choose are fine by me.

As we said, we don’t use ‘cualesquiera’ in conversation frequently, so the most common answer would be:

  • CUALQUIERA que escojan, está bien para mí. (Esto es más común que la forma plural). Any seat you choose is fine by me.
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