Skip links
Published on: Grammar Bites

It’s all relative: how to use el que / la que and more relative pronouns

We use los pronombres relativos to add bonus information to our main idea. There are several types of pronombres relativos, so we’ll get started with the most typical one: QUE.

We use que when referring to people or things:

  • Las mujeres que están con el guía son turistas. The women who are with the guide are tourists.
  • La cámara que compraste está sobre la mesa. The camera that you bought is on the table.

If we need to use a preposition with the relative pronoun “que”, we typically need to add an article as well: el que / la que / los que / las que:

  • El libro con el que aprendí español es muy interesante. The book that I used to learn Spanish is very interesting.
  • La casa en la que crecí es muy grande. The house I grew up in is very big.

If the noun is removed to avoid repetition, we replace it with the combination of an article plus “que”: el que / la que / los que / las que:

  • ¿Quieres esta corbata de regalo? Do you want this tie as a present?
  • No, quiero la que es más cara. No, I want the one that’s more expensive.
  • ¿Estás leyendo el libro que compras ayer? Are you reading the book you bought yesterday?
  • No, todavía estoy leyendo el que me prestó mi hermana. No, I’m still reading the one my sister lent me.

If instead of talking about a person or object, the article + que is meant to replace an entire idea or situation that’s being discussed, we use the article lo:

Todavía no sabemos lo que pasó. We still don’t know what happened.
¿Qué fue lo que dijo? What did she say?

We can also use los pronombres relativos to emphasise who did something:

Juan chocó el coche —> Es Juan el que chocó el coche. Juan crashed the car –> It is Juan who crashed the car.
Sus padres fueron de vacaciones. –> Son sus padres los que fueron de vacaciones. Her parents went on vacations –> It’s her parents who went on vacations.

Here are some other useful pronombres relativos:

We use “quien” when referring only to people:

  • La persona a quien le di el regalo es mi jefa. The person to whom I gave the gift is my boss.

We use the relative pronoun “cuanto(a/s)” when referring to quantities:

  • Beban cuanta cerveza puedan. Drink as much beer as you can.
R E A D Y  T O  L E A R N ?

If you are looking to learn Spanish quickly or you want to find the best way to learn to speak Spanish, at Easy Español we can help you with the best program to learn Spanish. Whether you are a total beginner or have some previous knowledge, you will notice immediate progress with the quickest way to learn Spanish

No matter your goal, learning Spanish will be easier than ever with one of our intensive online Spanish courseswhether you want to learn Spanish in 30 days or in 3 months. You will discover a unique method of live Spanish classes online with the easiest way to learn Spanish to speak Spanish fluently once and for all.