Using que at the beginning of a question to express disbelief (without a written accent)

One way to express disbelief about something that is happening, has happened or will happen in Spanish is by forming a question introduced by "que".

It is important to note that this "que" does not have an accent despite being a question.

Have a look and listen to the following examples:

¿Que te vas a casar con Javier? No lo puedo creer.
Are you really marrying Javier? I can't believe it.

¿Que escalásteis el Kilimanjaro? Increible.
I can't believe you climbed Kilimanjaro! Incredible!

¿Que tu hija va a salir en la tele?
Your daughter is going to be on TV?

Que without an accent

In this case "que" is a conjunction, although in this specific usage it is as though part of the sentence is omitted.

Let's look at the following example to understand how the word "que" works in this sort of sentence to express surprise and disbelief about something you have been told or have heard generally:

¿Que te ha tocado la lotería?
You've really won the lottery?

We could easily have said the same in a exclamatory sentence:

¡No puedo creer que te haya tocado la lotería!
I can't believe that you won the lottery!

or

¡Me han dicho que te ha tocado la lotería!
I've been told that you won the lottery!

But with the shortened "que" version, the initial phrase that expresses surprise/disbelief is omitted.

Important note about using the subjunctive

Bear in mind that this structure does not admit the subjunctive if the initial sentence is in the indicative.

For example, if you imagine that someone says: "Tengo mucho frío", you could reply: "¿Que tienes mucho frío?" but not "¿Que tengas mucho frío?"

However, look at this example where the initial sentence is in the subjunctive already to express disbelief:

"Me pidió que le diera dinero." (subjunctive)

then the reply would be:

"¿Que le dieras dinero?" (subjunctive)

You can review the other uses of "qué" with and "que" without a written accent here: Difference between qué and que (with and without an accent)

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

¿Que te vas a casar con Javier? No lo puedo creer.
Are you really marrying Javier? I can't believe it.


¿Que tu hija va a salir en la tele?
Your daughter is going to be on TV?


¿Que te ha tocado la lotería?
You've really won the lottery?


¿Que escalásteis el Kilimanjaro? Increible.
I can't believe you climbed Kilimanjaro! Incredible!


Q&A Forum 2 questions, 5 answers

Why didn't you use "te hayas" in the example " ¡No puedo creer que te haya tocado la lotería!"

Asked 4 months ago
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hola Gail

"Tocar la lotería [a alguien]" means "someone winning the lottery, but in Spanish this verbs works differently to English. It works the same way as "gustar". The subject of the sentence is always going to be "la lotería", so the verb will agree with la lotería, and whoever wins it will be an Indirect object (me, te, le...) So, here are some sentences:

"A Juan le tocó la lotería ayer" (Juan won the lottery yesterday.)

"A mí nunca me ha tocado un premio" (I´ve never won a prize.)

Now, look at his sentence with gustar:

"A mi me encanta Shakira" (I love Shakira) 

Can you see the same pattern?

Hope it helps

Inma

Brilliant!  I knew there must be a good reason.  Thanks for the clarification.  It does make me wonder how many more verbs function this way that I am currently unaware of though.  Sigh . . 

Why didn't you use "te hayas" in the example " ¡No puedo creer que te haya tocado la lotería!"

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Que to express disbelief

I think it would be helpful to point out explicitly that the subjunctive mood is NOT used with this construction, as well as giving the examples.
Asked 10 months ago
SilviaKwiziq language super star

¡Hola Alan!

Thanks for your contribution, we will add that information to the lesson soon to make it clearer and avoid confusion.

Regards,

Silvia.

¡Muchas gracias! Saludos, Alan.
InmaKwiziq language super star

Hi Alan,

there is an extra note now that has been added to the lesson (at the end) explaining this. Bear in mind though that sometimes it does admit the subjunctive. Here is the lesson to have a look at that note:

[competency id= "6186"]

Que to express disbelief

I think it would be helpful to point out explicitly that the subjunctive mood is NOT used with this construction, as well as giving the examples.

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