Alguien que vs a quien

Hi there,

Am getting confused about when I need to use “a quien” as opposed to “que” when referring to another person e.g liking something etc

Am about 14 hrs into level 1. Thanks for any help with this!


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Hola Rebeca,

That’s a very good question. The issue is the translation of “to like” in Spanish. Let’s take a look at this phrase:

Someone who likes this book: Alguien a quien le gusta este libro

If you think of it as “Someone to whom this book pleases”, you can see that “a quien” translates as “to whom”. Instead “que” can translate both as “what” or as “who/that”

I hope this helps,


So would you only use “a quien” when referring to a phrase such as this (ie with querer) whereas if you are talking about someone who spoke to you/showed you/ate something etc it would just be “que” as those verbs can’t be taken in the context of “to whom”…?

Apologies. I’m failing to explain myself clearly!

You use a quien when in English you could use “to whom” if you’re speaking more formally, e.g. “I have seen the man to whom you gave the dog” - he visto al hombre a quien le di el perro but if it’s just “I have seen the man who gave you the dog” (you can’t say “… to whom gave you the dog”) then it’s he visto al hombre que te dio el perro

It gets used with gustar because you say me gusta el perro “I like the dog” (the dog is pleasing to me), le gusta el perro “he likes the dog” (the dog is pleasing to him/her), so you would ask ¿a quién le gusta el perro? “who likes the dog?” (to whom is the dog pleasing?), al hombre le gusta el perro (the dog is pleasing to the man), he visto al hombre a quien le gusta el perro “I’ve seen the man who likes the dog” (I’ve seen the man to whom the dog is pleasing)

That’s correct. The grammatical explanation is that in the case of "Someone to whom this book pleases” the person is the INDIRECT object (therefore “whom”) and in the other cases, such as “Show him/ Speak to him /etc” the person is the DIRECT object.

Brilliant. Thanks so much both, think I understand now

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