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I remember learning the rule for when to use cualquier, cualquiera, and cualesquiera, but was always confused about the exact differences. When should each be used, and what role do number, gender, and word placement play? Specifically, what should the translation be in the phrase "any of us," and why is that the proper choice?

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"Cualquiera" can work as an determinative adjective (used with a noun) or as a pronoun.

In this site it is explained its use as a determinative:

Cualquier

It is the singular form and it appears before the noun, which can be both masculine and feminine:

Coje cualquier libro
Lee cualquier página

Cualquiera

It is the singular form and it appears after the noun, which can be both masculine and feminine:

Coje un libro cualquiera
Lee una página cualquiera

So, use cualquier or cualquiera when you any to say "any", one single thing. "Cualquier" is the shorted form, and "cualquiera" is the full form. Just pick any of them and be careful with the placement.

Cualesquiera

It is the plural form and it appears after the noun, which can be both masculine and feminine:

Coje dos libros cualesquiera
Lee dos páginas cualesquiera

However, it is quite spread the use of "cualquiera" in plural nouns, but this is not correct:

Coje dos libros cualquiera*


About its use as pronoun, in this site we read:

In its pronominal function, it's always "cualquiera".
Esto lo sabe cualquiera.

It can also take a complement preceded by "de".
Cualquiera de estas llaves abre la puerta.


So, having said that, let's translate "any of us". "Of us" translates as "de nosotros", that is, a complement preceded by "de". So, it must be "cualquiera", as it is in the pronominal form:

Cualquiera de nosotros.

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Very helpful, thanks! What about plural before the noun (e.g. "Read any five pages")? –  jrdioko Jul 3 '12 at 17:55
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Nope, you can't, see: "Cualesquiera: it is the plural form and it appears after the noun". It is a must, "lee cualesquiera cinco páginas" it's wrong; it's "lee cinco páginas cualesquiera". –  JoulSauron Jul 3 '12 at 20:04
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Cualesquiera is the real word.

Cualquier and Cualquiera are short forms.

You can use Cualquier with any word if it's masculine and before the noun.

You must use Cualquiera if is feminine.

A common error is use "cualquier" in a feminine case, it's really common in oral language, but it's wrong.

The same happens with first (primero)

El primer día (OK)
El día primero (OK)
La primera semana (OK)
La primer semana (WRONG!)

Cualquier día (OK)
Cualquier semana (it's sounds good but it's wrong)
Cualquiera semana. (OK it's sound wrong but is the real way)
Un día cualquiera (OK)
Un día cualquier (WRONG)
Una semana cualquier (WRONG)
Una semana cualquiera (OK)
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Cualquier semana is completely correct. here RAE explains the use of cualquiera: lema.rae.es/dpd/?key=cualquiera&origen=RAE You can read that before nouns it should be used cualquier instead of cualquiera, though it is also accepted the cualquiera but it's something very unusual except if you're from Chile. –  Juanillo Jun 29 '12 at 19:03
    
And that's the way I don't like RAE, because instead of educate on the grammar, accept the vulgarism as official. –  Leandro Jun 29 '12 at 19:08
    
you have said it sounds good... I don't really understand why you think it's not going to be the accepted way. –  Juanillo Jun 29 '12 at 19:10
    
well, "Antes que sea tarde" sounds great but it's wrong ;) –  Leandro Jun 29 '12 at 19:28
2  
What's wrong about "antes que sea tarde"? It's perfectly correct, even though to many people "antes de que sea tarde" sounds better. In fact, "antes que" predates "antes de que". source –  MikMik Jul 2 '12 at 13:19
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