Using qué tan/cuán + adjective/adverb to ask about the degree or extent of a specific quality

In Spanish, when we ask about the degree or extent of a specific quality of something/someone, we often use:

¿Qué tan + adjective/adverb + verb...?

or

¿Cuán + adjective/adverb + verb...?

The most common and colloquial way is qué tan, but cuán is also used frequently although it remains slightly more formal.

Both structures can be used in direct and indirect interrogative sentences.

Have a look at these examples:

- Alfredo, ¿qué tan grande es tu casa? - Supergrande, tiene 8 dormitorios.- Alfredo, how big is your house? - Super big, it has 8 bedrooms.

Siempre dices que tu marido está muy gordo, pero ¿qué tan gordo está?You are always saying your husband is very fat, but [just] how fat is he?

Dime qué tan tostado quieres el pan. Sé que te gusta poco tostado, ¿sí?Tell me how toasted you want your bread. I know you don't like it too toasted, right?

Carlos, muéstrale a Valentina qué tan bien bailas merengue.Carlos, show Valentina how well you can dance merengue.

- ¿Qué tan largo es el documental? - Dura unas dos horas.- How long is the documentary? - It's about two hours long.

¿Qué tan pesadas son esas maletas?How heavy are those suitcases?

Remember that when using this structure with an adjective, the adjective must agree with the subject. Qué tan and Cuán are invariable and they always have a written accent when used with this meaning. 

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Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

Me sorprendió cuán rápidamente acudió la ambulancia.I was surprised about how fast the ambulance came.
Siempre dices que tu marido está muy gordo, pero ¿qué tan gordo está?You are always saying your husband is very fat, but [just] how fat is he?
¿Qué tan pesadas son esas maletas?How heavy are those suitcases?
Dime qué tan tostado quieres el pan. Sé que te gusta poco tostado, ¿sí?Tell me how toasted you want your bread. I know you don't like it too toasted, right?
- ¿Qué tan largo es el documental? - Dura unas dos horas.- How long is the documentary? - It's about two hours long.
Imagino cuán preocupada estuvo usted con el problema de su hija.I imagine how worried you were about your daughter's problem.
Carlos, muéstrale a Valentina qué tan bien bailas merengue.Carlos, show Valentina how well you can dance merengue.
¿Cuán profesional y serio es el abogado?How professional and serious is the lawyer?
- Alfredo, ¿qué tan grande es tu casa? - Supergrande, tiene 8 dormitorios.- Alfredo, how big is your house? - Super big, it has 8 bedrooms.
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