Using Qué poco/s + verb/noun to express surprise about a small quantity or infrequency

In Spanish we can make exclamatory sentences expressing surprise about a small quantity, the lack of something or how infrequently something happens:

 Look at these sentences with the exclamatory words ¡qué poco <verb>!

¡Qué poco come este niño!
How little this boy eats! (This boy eats so little!)

¡Qué poco habla tu marido!
How little your husband talks! (Your husband talks very little!)

¡Qué poco salimos últimamente!
How little we've been going out lately! (We have hardly gone out lately!)

In the examples above, qué poco is used in front of a verb to express surprise at how infrequently the action happens. Notice that when there is a subject, it is placed at the end of the sentence, after the verb.

To express infrequency we use only the masculine singular form of poco (not poca/os/as).

It would be incorrect to say:

¡Qué pocas habla tu marido! 

¡Qué pocos come este niño!

Now look at these sentences with the exclamatory words ¡qué poco/-a/-os/-as <noun>!

¡Qué poco dinero tiene Luisa en el banco!
How little money Luisa has in the bank! (Luisa has so little money in the bank!)

¡Qué poca luz hay en esta habitación!
How little light there is in this room!

¡Qué pocas clases nos quedan para terminar!
How very few classes there are left to finish!

¡Qué pocos amigos tiene mi hijo!
How very few friends my son has!

The examples above are expressing surprise about the small amount of something. Notice how when using the singular form (poco/-a) we are talking about uncountable nouns (luz, dinero, etc.) and when using the plural forms (pocos/-as) we are talking about countable nouns (amigos, clases, etc.). However in all the cases above, poco needs to agree in number and gender with the noun it is referring to. Qué, however, is always invariable and  always has a written accent [´].

Be careful not to use the words cuánto (how much) or cómo (how) instead of qué.

"¡Cuánto poco dinero tengo!"

 "!Cómo poco dinero tengo!"

To see other expressions with exclamatives, look at Using Cuánto + verb in exclamations about quantities and Forming exclamatory sentences with qué [noun] or qué [adjective] 

Examples and resources

¡Qué poca luz hay en esta habitación!
How little light there is in this room!


¡Qué poco dinero tiene Luisa en el banco!
How little money Luisa has in the bank! (Luisa has so little money in the bank!)


¡Qué poco salimos últimamente!
How little we've been going out lately! (We have hardly gone out lately!)


¡Qué pocos amigos tiene mi hijo!
How very few friends my son has!


¡Qué poco habla tu marido!
How little your husband talks! (Your husband talks very little!)


¡Qué pocas clases nos quedan para terminar!
How very few classes there are left to finish!


¡Qué poco come este niño!
How little this boy eats! (This boy eats so little!)


Q&A Forum 1 question, 1 answer

EmanuelB2Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

Qué poco vs. Cuánto ...

Am I right that I could exchage qué poco with cuánto and the sentence would be correct just with an opposite meaning?

Asked 2 months ago
InmaKwiziq team memberCorrect answer

You are absolutely right!

For example:

¡Qué poco come este niño!

How little this boy eats! (This boy eats so little!)

¡Cuánto come este niño!

This boy eats so much!

or

¡Qué pocas clases nos quedan para terminar!

How very few classes there are left to finish!

¡Cuántas clases nos quedan para terminar!

We still have so many classes left to finish!

Saludos

Inma

Qué poco vs. Cuánto ...

Am I right that I could exchage qué poco with cuánto and the sentence would be correct just with an opposite meaning?

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