Difference between dónde and donde (with and without a written accent)

There are words in Spanish which have different meanings when written with or without a written accent. Let's look at donde vs dónde.

Dónde with an accent

Dónde is an interrogative and exclamatory pronoun. It is used in both direct and indirect exclamatory and interrogative sentences. It is usually translated as where.

For example:

¿Dónde vives?
Where do you live?

Marcela me preguntó dónde estaba su coche.
Marcela asked me where her car was.

¡Dónde tienes el dinero!
Where do you keep the money!

 

Donde without an accent

Donde is a relative pronoun. It is also usually translated as where when it is used in a subordinate clause.

For example:

Trabajo en un país donde los sueldos son bastante buenos.
I work in a country where the salaries are quite good.

Es un espectáculo donde hacen saltar al caballo.
It is a show where they make the horse jump.

Note that sometimes donde can be followed by an infinitive. In this cases part of the sentence is omitted but doesn't alter the meaning.

For example:

"Necesito ir a un lugar donde relajarme."

"Necesito ir a un lugar donde [yo pueda] relajarme."

I need to go somewhere where I can relax.

The function of the word dónde/donde indicates if it does or does not require a written accent. If it helps you to remember, even though the most natural translation for both is "where", translate the phrase into English and see if you can replace "where" with "in what location"; if so then you know it is dónde with the written accent. Look at these examples:

¡Dónde tienes el dinero!
In what location/Where do you keep the money!

Trabajo en un país donde los sueldos son bastante buenos.
I work in a country in what location the salaries are quite good.

Remember:

  • Dóndewhere = "in what location" (interrogative and exclamatory pronoun).
  • Dondewhere = "in which" (relative pronoun in subordinate clauses).

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

¿Dónde vives?
Where do you live?


Trabajo en un país donde los sueldos son bastante buenos.
I work in a country in what location the salaries are quite good.


Es un espectáculo donde hacen saltar al caballo.
It is a show where they make the horse jump.


Trabajo en un país donde los sueldos son bastante buenos.
I work in a country where the salaries are quite good.


¡Dónde tienes el dinero!
In what location/Where do you keep the money!


Marcela me preguntó dónde estaba su coche.
Marcela asked me where her car was.


¡Dónde tienes el dinero!
Where do you keep the money!


Q&A

Peggy

Kwiziq community member

6 December 2018

1 reply

How is it the sentence “Dónde tienes el dinero” is translated as an exclamation instead of an interrogatory?

In English, to ask a question a compound verb is split into “do/have/are etc. -pronoun- root verb form. The use of exclamation points instead of question marks does not make sense.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

7 December 2018

7/12/18

Hi Peggy,

As far as we know it is also possible in English to use an exclamation mark in rhetorical questions. The meaning of this sentence is "I am surprised/I cannot believe where you keep the money". It is not a direct question from someone who wants to know where the money is. It is more of a situation where you know where the money is kept and you express your surprise.

I hope this clarifies it a bit.

Gracias

Inma

Devon

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2018

2 replies

I am confused by the following example sentence

Luis told me where he had gone on holiday. : Luis me dijo ___ había ido de vacaciones.

The stated answer is “dónde” (with an accent), but this usage seems to be that of a relative pronoun. What am I missing? Why is it “dónde” (with an accent)

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

25 August 2018

25/08/18

Hi Devon, 

In this case you cannot translate "dónde" into "in which", therefore it is not a relative pronoun but an indirect interrogative. There is a box at the bottom of the lesson giving you this tip:

Remember:

Dónde = where = "in what location" (interrogative and exclamatory pronoun).

Donde = where = "in which" (relative pronoun in subordinate clauses).

I hope it clarifies your doubt.

Inma

Devon

Kwiziq community member

25 August 2018

25/08/18

Thank you!
Getting that for you now.