Spanish Relative Pronouns


Relative pronouns in Spanish are words that connect clauses to give more information about previously mentioned people, things, or issues. You use them to connect ideas in one sentence and avoid repetition.

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Relative pronouns are the pronouns that are used to connect sentences, and they are used to refer back to a noun, pronoun or phrase that was talked about previously.

Relative pronouns are used to connect sentences to clarify and add information. The most common ones are Que, Quien.

Jennifer entra en la casa. La casa es mía.

Jennifer entra en la casa que es mía.

Que – Quien

Que can refer to a person, or thing and it is used when it comes as an antecedent to what it trying to clarify. Usually, it adds information about the previous statement.

La mujer que vive en esa casa, es mi hermana. The woman who lives in that house, is my sister.

Que- It can refer to a thing, person or place and means: that, which, who, or whom.

Quien- It can only refer to a person and it means who or whom.

When using Quien, it must match what its’ been said previously, the person spoken about or the (who it refers to in number). If the previous word is used in singular, you would use quien, and if it is plural, you will use quienes.

El Que and its relative forms: la que, los que, las que, are used in agreement with gender and number. El que, is usually used when there is distance between the relative the antecedent and the relative pronoun. It can also be used with prepositions such as sin, por and para, instead of just Que.

Los apartamentos, los que te compró Elizabeth, son bonitos.

The apartments, the ones Elizabeth bought, are pretty.

El Cual

El cual and its relative forms: la cual, los cuales, las cuales, must also agree in number and gender when used. They are used when there is more distance between the antecedent and the relative pronoun.

Mi hermana está poniendo la mesa, en la cual hay un jarrón encima. My sister is setting the table, in which there is a vase on top.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Specific Capabilities at this Level
I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.