¿Cuántos? – ¿Cuántas?
CUÁNTO, CUÁNTOS, CUÁNTA, CUÁNTAS are used when we want to know HOW MANY or HOW MUCH of something there is. These interrogatives (question words) are used for counting or measuring something.
But why are there four forms of this question word?
It depends on the word (normally a noun) that comes after it and whether it is singular or plural, as well as if it is masculine or feminine. The interrogative needs to agree in gender and quantity with the noun that follows it.
- ¿Cuánto? + singular masculine noun
- ¿Cuántos? + plural masculine noun
- ¿Cuánta? + singular feminine noun
- ¿Cuántas? + plural feminine noun
- ¿Cuántos niños hay? = How many boys are there?
- ¿Cuántas niñas hay? = How many girls are there?
- ¿Cuánto dinero necesito? = How much money do I need?
- ¿Cuántos libros hay? = How many books are there?
- ¿Cuánta ropa tienes? = How much clothes do you have?
- ¿Cuántas horas trabajaste ayer? = How many hours did you work yesterday?
Just like other question words in Spanish, one of the vowels has an accent mark (tilde) over it, in this case the first letter A.
These interrogatives can also appear alone (without a noun after it) though they still refer to a noun.
If you are talking about apples (manzanas) and you are asked How many? … you know they are asking about How many apples, even though the word apples is not added to the question. The same happens in Spanish. The person may just say ¿Cuántas? without the word manzanas after it. Note how that interrogative ends in -AS (cuántAS) because we are talking about manzanAS (plural feminine noun). (We don’t say the noun again to avoid repetition)
Let’s look at examples of each one…
Cuánto is normally followed by a masculine noun in singular form (or with uncountable nouns). It means How much?
- ¿Cuánto dinero necesitas? – (How much money do you need?)
- ¿Cuánto chocolate comes? – (How much chocolate do you eat?)
Cuánto can also be followed by a verb.
- ¿Cuánto vale? – (How much is it?)
- ¿Cuánto cuesta la bicicleta? – (How much does the bike cost?)
- ¿Cuánto estudias? – (How much do you study?)
- ¿Cuánto pesas? – (How much do you weigh?)
- ¿Cuánto pagaste por tu pelota? – (How much did you pay for your ball?)
When cuanto is used with tiempo or the verb durar, it refers to HOW LONG (duration of time) something is.
- ¿Cuánto tiempo estuviste en Chile? – (How long were you in Chile?)
- ¿Cuánto tiempo necesitas? – (How long do you need?)
- ¿Cuánto durará la prueba? – (How long will the test be?)
More examples of questions using Cuánto
- ¿Cuánto dinero tienes? – (How much money do you have?)
- ¿Cuánto dura la película? – (How long does the movie last?)
Cuántos is normally followed by a masculine noun in plural form. It means How many?
Examples of questions using Cuántos
- ¿Cuántos libros necesito? – (How many books do I need?)
- ¿Cuántos hijos tienes? – (How many children do you have?)
- ¿Cuántos cuartos hay en tu casa? – (How many rooms are there in your house?)
When Cuántos is followed by años, it means How old…?
(In Spanish you use tener instead of to be when giving an age.)
- ¿Cuántos años tienes? – (How old are you?)
Cuánta is normally followed by a feminine noun in singular form. It means How much?
Examples of questions using Cuánta
- ¿Cuánta paciencia tiene la profesora? – (How much patience does the teacher have?)
- ¿Cuánta leche quieres? – (How much milk do you want?)
- ¿Cuánta comida tienes? – (How much food do you have?)
- ¿Cuánta nieve hay? – (How much snow is there?)
- ¿Cuánta harina necesitas? – (How much flour do you need?)
Cuántas is normally followed by a feminine noun in plural form. It means How many?
Examples of questions using Cuántas
- ¿Cuántas manzanas hay? – (How many apples are there?)
- ¿Cuántas personas ves? – (How many people do you see?)
- ¿Cuántas personas vienen? – (How many people are coming?)
- ¿Cuántas familias hay? – (How many families are there?)
- ¿Cuántas horas trabajas cada día? – (How many hours do you work every day?)
Irregular Nouns with Cuántos
You need to be careful with irregular nouns that end in an -O but are feminine or end in an -A but are masculine.
- mano ends in an O though is a feminine word (LA mano).
- mapa ends in an A though is a masculine word (EL mapa).
For these types of nouns, the Interrogative needs to coincide not with the ending of the noun, but whether it is masculine/feminine or not.
- ¿Cuántos problemas tienes? – (How many problems do you have?)
- ¿Cuántas manos? – (How many hands?)
- ¿Cuántos mapas necesitas? – (How many maps do you need?)
- ¿Cuántos días hay en febrero? – (How many days are there in February?)
Cuánto with prepositions
Sometimes Cuánto appears with a preposition before it in Questions.
- ¿A cuánto están las manzanas? – (How much are the apples?)
- ¿Por cuánto me vendes tu libro? – (How much will you sell your book for?)
More about Cuándo with prepositions will be seen in another lesson.
So, how do you say HOW MUCH or HOW MANY in Spanish? … ¿Cuánto? ¿Cuántos? ¿Cuánta? or ¿Cuántas?