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It looks like this sentence can be formed without the "De" so what is it for?

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The De is mandatory in the question –  Emilio Gort Feb 2 at 2:39
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@EmilioGort But why? –  0x499602D2 Feb 2 at 2:44
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5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In Spanish the complete answer is:

La camisa es de color azul.

You can not make it a word by word translation into English. This is simply how it is in Spanish: when you're talking about the color property of a thing it is always constructed as "<thing> is of <such> colour".

Of course the answer is usually (but not always) shortened as:

La camisa es azul.

which relates better to the English way "<thing> is <colour name>".

Knowing which the complete answer is, now we can figure out how the correct question is, which turns to be:

¿De qué color es la camisa?

"Which colour is <thing> of?"

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You broke it down very well. +1 and accepted. –  0x499602D2 Feb 2 at 23:32
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Bueno, pues no comento porque necesito más reputación, así que lo pongo como "respuesta". Esa pregunta se puede responder de dos maneras:

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es azul.

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es de color azul.

La primera respuesta es sólo una manera abreviada de decir la segunda.


Well, as I can't comment because I need more reputation, I will put it as a "reply". That question can be answered in two ways:

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es azul.

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es de color azul.

The first answer is only an abbreviated way to say the second.

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Can you translate this to English please? –  0x499602D2 Feb 2 at 3:14
    
It won't be a word for word translation, so it would be pointless. –  Jose Feb 2 at 3:54
    
But I don't know what your answer is saying... –  0x499602D2 Feb 2 at 4:48
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A translation of the previous answer:

"Bueno, pues no comento porque necesito más reputación, así que lo pongo como "respuesta". Esa pregunta se puede responder de dos maneras:

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es azul.

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es de color azul.

La primera respuesta es sólo una manera abreviada de decir la segunda."

Broadly... "Well, as I can't comment because I need more reputation, I will put it as a "reply". [the same goes for me!] That question can be answered in two ways:

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es azul.

¿De qué color es la camisa? - Es de color azul.

The first answer is only an abbreviated way to say the second."

My way of understanding is that "de" is used in the question because the answer is selected from a list (the list of colours) - "Of what colour is the shirt"

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If you really don't want the initial "de", I guess you might say:

¿ Qué color es el color de la camisa ?

However, that would mean you see the color but can't name it.

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"¿De qué color es la camisa?" literally translates into: "OF what color is the shirt?" That just happens to the Spanish construction. We don't need the "of" in English, but we do in Spanish.

"¿De qué color es la camisa?" se traduce literalmente en: "OF what color is the shirt?" Ese es la construccion española. No necessitamos "of" en ingles, pero lo necesitamos en español.

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