Difference between qué and que (with and without an accent)

There are words in Spanish which change their meaning simply when you use a written accent. Let's look at que vs qué.

Que without an accent

Que is a conjunction or a relative pronoun, it is usually translated by that... or which/who.

For example:

Marta dice que su hermana tiene problemas.Marta is saying that her sister is having some problems.

Mis vecinos, que tienen tres hijos, son muy antipáticos.My neighbours, who have three children, are very rude.

Qué with an accent

Qué is used in both direct and indirect exclamatory and interrogative sentences, it is generally translated as what or how.

For example:

Mamá ¿qué cenamos hoy?Mum ¿What are we having for dinner today?

El niño pregunta a su madre qué van a cenar hoy.The boy is asking his mum what they are having for dinner today.

¡Qué frío hace hoy!How cold it is today!
 

Remember:

  • Que = that..., which/who
  • Qué What/How

Exception: There is a higher-level lesson on a more advanced use of "que" without a written accent, used as an interrogative sentence, here: Using que at the beginning of a question to express disbelief (without a written accent)

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Examples and resources

¡Qué frío hace hoy!How cold it is today!
El niño pregunta a su madre qué van a cenar hoy.The boy is asking his mum what they are having for dinner today.
Mis vecinos, que tienen tres hijos, son muy antipáticos.My neighbours, who have three children, are very rude.
Marta dice que su hermana tiene problemas.Marta is saying that her sister is having some problems.
Mamá ¿qué cenamos hoy?Mum ¿What are we having for dinner today?
Let me take a look at that...