Exclamations

Exclamations are expressions of surprise or amazement that usually start with a question word but are not questions (such as, “How beautiful!” or, “What a nice guy!”). The specific question word used in a Spanish exclamation depends on the part of speech of the word that follows it. Notice in all the examples below that the question words still carry accents even though they are no longer asking questions.

Qué

Qué is used in front of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs to mean “how” or “what a”:

  • ¡Qué interesantes son ellos! (adjective)
  • How interesting they are!
  • ¡Qué rápidamente pasa la vida! (adverb)
  • How quickly life passes!
  • ¡Qué atleta es mi sobrina! (noun)
  • What an athlete my niece is!

Cuánto

If the noun is quantifiable, an adapted form of the word cuánto may precede it to express surprise at the amount:

  • ¡Cuánto dinero gasté durante mi vacación!
  • How much money I spent during my vacation!
  • ¡Cuántos problemas tenemos!
  • How many problems we have!

Cuánto may also be used in front of a verb to express surprise at how much someone is doing that verb. When followed by a verb, cuánto must end in ‐o:

  • ¡Cuánto bailaste anoche!
  • How much you danced last night!

Cómo

Cómo may also precede a verb to express surprise at the manner in which the verb was done:

  • ¡Cómo celebramos durante la fiesta!
  • How we celebrated during the party!
  • ¡Cómo canta el pájaro!
  • How the bird sings!