How Much in Spanish: Using the Spanish Interrogatives Cuánto, Cuánta, Cuántas, and Cuántos
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When it comes time to ask or express phrases like “how many” or “how much” in Spanish, the words cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, and cuántas will get the job done.
These four words can be used either as interrogatives (question words), whether for quantities or for prices, or to express astonishment as exclamations. We’ll go into each of these uses of the Spanish words cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, or cuántas in the next sections of this post:
- expressing quantity or number and asking how much or how many.
- asking for the price of something.
- reinforcing feelings or opinions about the intensity of action or a quantity.
Note that in this post our focus is specifically on these interrogative words in Spanish, which are the versions of cuánto with the tilde (accent mark) on the á. Without the tilde these are considered different words with a different set of uses, even though they’re similar in that they’re still used to discuss quantity. For details on choosing cuánto vs cuanto, please take a look at our next post where we cover the different uses of cuanto without the accent.
In the current post you’ll learn how to say “how much” in Spanish, as well as all the details you need to know to create questions, answers, and sentences to discuss the concepts we mentioned above. Let’s get started!
Asking for Quantity
To ask about or share information about both countable and uncountable nouns, we use cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, or cuántas.
To use these words, you will need to think about whether the word you are asking about is countable or uncountable. For uncountable nouns (examples: water, time, weight, hunger), we use cuánto or cuánta. For countable nouns (examples: drinks, minutes, pounds, cakes), we use cuántos or cuántas.
Fortunately, this is the same rule you use in English, so if it’s easier, think of it this way: cuánto and cuánta mean how much in Spanish, while cuántos and cuántas mean how many in Spanish.
Along with thinking of how much or how many, remember to consider the gender of the noun as well, as that will determine whether you use the masculine or feminine form of the question word.
|Uncountable: How Much?
|Countable: How Many?
- ¿Cuánto dinero traes en la billetera? – How much money do you have in your wallet?
- ¿Cuánto tiempo tienes para terminar el informe? – How much time do you have to finish the report?
- ¿Cuánta agua trajiste para la caminata? – How much water did you bring for the hike?
- ¿Cuánta hambre tienes? – How hungry are you? – How much hunger do you have?
- ¿Cuántos años tiene tu amigo? – How old is your friend? – How many years does your friend have?
- ¿Cuántos estudiantes tienes en tu clase? – How many students do you have in your class?
- ¿Cuántas personas vienen a la fiesta? – How many people are coming to the party?
- ¿Cuántas galletas preparaste? – How many cookies did you make?
Using cuánto without the noun
In some situations we omit the nouns in the sentence, which means you’ll need to use context clues to determine the gender and number that cuánto is referring to.
Consider the following example:
- ¿Cuánto pesas? – How much do you weigh?
Though it’s not written, we can assume that the speaker wants to know the recipient’s weight, or peso, which is our (invisible) noun. So, we’ll choose the version of cuánto that matches it in gender and number. Because peso is uncountable and masculine, we use cuánto.
This is the same concept used in English when you say “How much do you weigh?” (how much is used for uncountable nouns) not “How many do you weigh?” (how many is used for countable nouns). This implied noun sounds much more natural than if we were to include it in our sentence:
- ¿Cuánto peso pesas? – How much weight do you weigh?
The same thing happens if we say:
- Solamente queda una galleta, ¿cuántas comiste? – There’s only one cookie left. How many did you eat?
Although we didn’t state the noun in the question, it’s clear from context that we’re asking “How many [cookies] did you eat?” Thus, the proper word would be cuántas because it matches with galletas in both gender and number.
Asking for Prices
There are a couple of different ways to ask “how much does it cost?” in Spanish. Luckily, all of them use the word cuánto. This is because the Spanish words for price, money, and cost (precio, dinero, and costo) are all masculine and uncountable.
- ¿Cuánto [dinero] cuesta esa ensalada? – How much [money] does that salad cost?
- ¿Cuánto cuestan los zapatos negros? – How much do the black shoes cost?
- ¿Cuánto vale el tiquete de avión? – How much is the plane ticket worth?
- ¿Cuánto valen los aretes de oro? – How much are the gold earrings worth?
Likewise, to ask about the total price of something, you can simply ask…
- ¿Cuánto es? – How much is it?
As an Exclamation
Another way to use cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, and cuántas is to reinforce a feeling of surprise, excitement, concern, happiness, etc., when describing different situations where the surprising element has a quantity. This is similar to when we use qué to exclaim something, such as “¡qué calor!” meaning essentially, “it’s so hot!”
- ¡Cuánto tiempo sin verte! ¡Estás muy alta! – How long it’s been since I’ve seen you! You’re so tall! – It’s been so long since I’ve seen you! You’re so tall!
In this scenario, the word cuánto can be best understood in English as an expression of the idea it creates rather than a direct translation. The phrase “it’s been so long” rather than “how long it’s been” is a more accurate, natural way to express this same idea in English.
Still, practicing with a direct, literal translation makes it easier to understand how we can use words like cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, and cuántas as an exclamation.
- ¡Cuánta basura en esta calle! No se puede ni caminar. – There’s so much garbage on this street! You can’t even walk.
- ¡Samuel, cuántos zapatos! Compraste toda la tienda. – Samuel, so many shoes! You bought the whole store.
- ¡Cuántas sorpresas! Ha sido un cumpleaños maravilloso. – So many surprises! It’s been a wonderful birthday.
We see this expression and many others in our related post on Spanish interjections and exclamations.
Cuánto, cuánta, cuántos, and cuántas are all words we can use to talk about how many or how much in Spanish. These question words, known as Spanish interrogatives, always have accents. Their unaccented counterparts have different uses, which we discuss in our next post on cuanto without an accent.
In this post, we started off with our focus on the Spanish interrogatives. We saw how cuánto and cuánta are used with uncountable nouns to ask how much in Spanish, while the plural forms cuántos and cuántas are used with countable nouns to ask how many. We saw how to use these words for asking prices in Spanish, with phrases like ¿cuánto cuesta…?, ¿cuánto vale…?, or simply ¿cuánto es?.
With these accented forms of the four cuánto words, we finished up looking at how we use them to form exclamations along the lines of “¡Cuántos usos tienen estas palabras! – These words have so many uses!”
Using the different cuántos words correctly is only a matter of matching gender and number, choosing the correct version for the context, and, of course, some practice. We hope this breakdown has been helpful and makes using cuánto a breeze!