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 notice that this "que" does not have an accent despite being in 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 the 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)

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

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


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


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


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


Q&A

Alan

Kwiziq community member

10 September 2018

3 replies

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.

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

12 September 2018

12/09/18

¡Hola Alan!

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

Regards,

Silvia.

Alan

Kwiziq community member

12 September 2018

12/09/18

¡Muchas gracias! Saludos, Alan.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

18 September 2018

18/09/18

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:

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

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