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Using preposition a and de + el que, la que, los que, las que = to/of/from/about which/who (relative pronouns)

Relative pronouns can be combined with prepositions de and a.

With a

Have a look and listen to the following sentences using preposition a:

El partido al que fui el sábado fue interesantísimo.
The match I went to on Saturday was very interesting. [lit: to which I went]

La fiesta a la que asistieron fue organizada por el colegio.
The party they went to was organised by the school. [lit: to which they went]

Los cantantes a los que los fans adulaban se sintieron muy orgullosos.
The singers who the fans were flattering felt very proud. [lit: to whom the fans were flattering]

Las sillas a las que se referían estaban ocupadas.
The seats they were referring to were taken. [lit: to which they were referring to]

Notice how in the first example, when referring to something masculine and singular (el partido) the preposition a and the article el become "al". When referring to feminine singular or plural and masculine plural, there is no contraction.

With de

Now have a look at the following examples with preposition de:

El proyecto del que te hablé se ha cancelado.
The project I talked to you about has been cancelled. [lit: about which]

La bolsa de la que cogiste el dinero era de Laura.
The bag you took the money from was Laura's. [lit: from which]

Los alumnos de los que nos quejamos fueron expulsados inmediatamente.
The pupils we complained about were expelled immediately. [lit: about which]

Las cortinas de las que se hicieron la falda estaban descoloridas.
The curtains which they made the skirt from were faded. [lit: from which]

Notice how in the first example, when referring to something masculine singular (el proyecto), preposition de and article el become del. When referring to feminine singular or plural and masculine plural, there is no contraction.

 

Remember that, unlike in English, the prepositions are placed in front and not at the end.

El gato al que curaron tenía dueño. 
El gato que curaron al tenía dueño.
The cat who was cured had an owner.  

Using cual

We can substititute el que/la que/los que/las que with:

  • el cual/la cual/los cuales/las cuales 

and the meaning won't change.

Have a look:

El proyecto del cual te hablé se ha cancelado.
The project I talked to you about has been cancelled.

La fiesta a la cual asistieron fue organizada por el colegio.
The party they went to was organised by the school. 

Los alumnos de los cuales nos quejamos fueron expulsados inmediatamente.
The pupils we complained about were expelled immediately.

Las sillas a las cuales se referían estaban ocupadas.
The seats they were referring to were taken.

See how de + el contract again (del) in the first example, when referring to a singular masculine case.

Using quien/quienes

There is another possible substitution with quien/quienes, but only when the referent is a person/people.

Have a look:

Los alumnos de quienes nos quejamos fueron expulsados.
The pupils we complained about were expelled.

Ya no me gusta tanto la chica de quien te hablé.
I don't like the girl I talked to you about as much now.

However:

Las sillas a quienes se referían estaban ocupadas.
(sillas is an object)

Remember that quien/quienes are not preceded by the articles el/la/los/las.

Bear in mind that quien/quienes and el cual/la cual/los cuales/las cuales are used more formally than el que/la que/los que/las que.

Note that, while in English the relative pronoun "who" is often used to refer to pets, in Spain it is not generally used.

"Mi gato, del que tengo muchas fotos, es adorable."

"My cat, who I have lots of pictures of, is adorable"

To learn about other prepositions used with relative pronouns see also Using preposition [except a and de] + el que, la que, los que, las que = with/for/on which (relative pronouns) and Contracted masculine singular articles: al and del

See also basic lesson Contracted masculine singular articles: al and del

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

El proyecto del que te hablé se ha cancelado.
The project I talked to you about has been cancelled. [lit: about which]


Las cortinas de las que se hicieron la falda estaban descoloridas.
The curtains which they made the skirt from were faded. [lit: from which]


La fiesta a la cual asistieron fue organizada por el colegio.
The party they went to was organised by the school. 


Los alumnos de quienes nos quejamos fueron expulsados.
The pupils we complained about were expelled.


La fiesta a la que asistieron fue organizada por el colegio.
The party they went to was organised by the school. [lit: to which they went]


Las sillas a las que se referían estaban ocupadas.
The seats they were referring to were taken. [lit: to which they were referring to]


El proyecto del cual te hablé se ha cancelado.
The project I talked to you about has been cancelled.


Los alumnos de los que nos quejamos fueron expulsados inmediatamente.
The pupils we complained about were expelled immediately. [lit: about which]


El partido al que fui el sábado fue interesantísimo.
The match I went to on Saturday was very interesting. [lit: to which I went]


Ya no me gusta tanto la chica de quien te hablé.
I don't like the girl I talked to you about as much now.


El proyecto del cual te hablé se ha cancelado.
The project I talked to you about has been cancelled.


Los cantantes a los que los fans adulaban se sintieron muy orgullosos.
The singers who the fans were flattering felt very proud. [lit: to whom the fans were flattering]


Las sillas a las cuales se referían estaban ocupadas.
The seats they were referring to were taken.


El proyecto del cual te hablé se ha cancelado.
The project I talked to you about has been cancelled.


La bolsa de la que cogiste el dinero era de Laura.
The bag you took the money from was Laura's. [lit: from which]


Los alumnos de los cuales nos quejamos fueron expulsados inmediatamente.
The pupils we complained about were expelled immediately.


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