Difference between adónde/adonde/dónde/donde

There is always a bit of confusion about how and when to use these words in Spanish:

  • adonde/donde
  • adónde/dónde

Type of verb

With verbs that imply movement we can use all the forms:

¿Adónde vas Manuel?Where are you going Manuel?

Yo no sé adónde lleva María esos libros.I don't know where María is taking those books.

¿Dónde vas Manuel?Where are you going Manuel?

Yo no sé dónde lleva María esos libros.I don't know where María is taking those books.

But if the verb does not imply movement you can only use donde or dónde. For example:

¿Dónde están mis gafas?Where are my glasses?

Cenaremos donde tú quieras.We will have dinner wherever you want.

This would be incorrect:

  •  ¿Adónde están mis gafas?
  • Cenaremos adonde tú quieras.

Function in the sentence

It is also important to remember that the forms that have a written accent (dónde, adónde) are the ones used in direct and indirect interrogative sentences or exclamatory sentences. For example:

- ¿Adónde os mudáis? - A Barcelona.- Where are you moving to? - To Barcelona.

¡Adónde vamos a llegar con esta crisis!Where we are going to with this crisis!

No tengo ni idea de dónde dejé mi móvil anoche.I haven't got a clue where I left my phone last night.

and the forms with no accents (dondeadonde) are relative pronouns. For example:

Voy a ir a la cafetería donde sirven churros con chocolate.I am going to go to the coffee shop where (in which) they serve churros with chocolate.

Mi hija estudia donde yo estudié de pequeña.My daughter is studying where (in the school in which) I studied when I was little.

Iremos adonde tú quieras, cariño.We will go where (to whichever restaurant) you want, darling.

IMPORTANT 

For the long forms adónde and adonde, it is also perfectly acceptable to write them as two separate words:

  • adonde = a donde
  • adóndea dónde

For example:

  • Iremos adonde/a donde tú quieras.
  • ¿Adónde/a dónde vas?

 See also Difference between dónde and donde (with and without a written accent) 

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Examples and resources

Yo no sé adónde lleva María esos libros.I don't know where María is taking those books.
Mi hija estudia donde yo estudié de pequeña.My daughter is studying where (in the school in which) I studied when I was little.
- ¿Adónde os mudáis? - A Barcelona.- Where are you moving to? - To Barcelona.
¿Adónde vas Manuel?Where are you going Manuel?
Voy a ir a la cafetería donde sirven churros con chocolate.I am going to go to the coffee shop where (in which) they serve churros with chocolate.
¿Dónde están mis gafas?Where are my glasses?
Cenaremos donde tú quieras.We will have dinner wherever you want.
Yo no sé dónde lleva María esos libros.I don't know where María is taking those books.
¡Adónde vamos a llegar con esta crisis!Where we are going to with this crisis!
¿Dónde vas Manuel?Where are you going Manuel?
Iremos adonde tú quieras, cariño.We will go where (to whichever restaurant) you want, darling.
No tengo ni idea de dónde dejé mi móvil anoche.I haven't got a clue where I left my phone last night.
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