Relative pronouns

Relative pronouns such as que, quien, cual (that, who, which) replace people, animals and things to avoid repetition.

Le compré un regalo a Teo. Voy a mostrarte el regalo
→ Voy a mostrarte el regalo que le compré a Teo (que = el regalo).

I bought Teo a present. I'm going to show you the present
→ I'm going to show you the present that I bought Teo (that = the present).

To replace people only:

  • Quien / Quienes (who, whom)

Betty es quien te llamó (quien = Betty).

Betty is the one who called you (who = Betty).

Ellos son quienes vinieron a la reunión (quienes = ellos).

They are the ones who came to the meeting (who = they).

To replace people, animals or things:

  • Que (that)

El libro que me regalaste es muy aburrido (que = el libro).

The book that you gave me is very boring (that = the book).

  • Definite article + que (that)

Ellas son mis primas, las que me caen mal (las que = mis primas)

They are my cousins, the ones that I dislike (the ones that = my cousins).

  • Definite article + cual/cuales (which)

Este es el libro del cual te hablé (el cual = el libro).

This is the book I spoke to you about – literally “…of which I spoke” (which = the book).

Te contaré las razones por las cuales vine a Madrid (las cuales = las razones).

I will tell you the reasons why I came to Madrid – literally “…for which I came to Madrid”  (which = the reasons).


  • The definite article that goes before que/cual has the same gender and number as the noun it replaces.

Ella es la chica de la que / de la cual te hablé.

She is the girl I spoke to you about – literally “…of whom/which I spoke to you”.

  • El/La que and el/la cual are generally interchangeable, but cual is more formal.

La casa en la que /la cual vivo queda en las afueras de la ciudad.

The house in which I live is on the outskirts of the city.

  • We use the same relative pronouns, but with an accent, in questions and exclamations.

¿Quién es esa señora?

Who is that lady?

¡Qué linda casa!

What a beautiful house!

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