Consider the following translation:

El odio arrebató la vida a la mujer que amaba.

Hatred took the life of a woman I cherished.

How would you translate the same sentence with the word "woman" taken out (albeit implied)? Look at the following sentence:

Hatred took the life of the one I cherished.

Grammar-wise, it seems to be something like this:

El odio arrebató la vida a la que que amaba.

But obviously, two que's together neither seem appropriate, nor natural. How would a native speaker handle this?

1 Answer 1


Your observation is very clever, because it corresponds to what it should be if we applied the grammatical logic. However, no native speaker sane even imagine "la que que amaba". Sounds strange and absurd.

Remember that the existence of pronouns is due to the linguistic economy. Prevents redundancy maintaining the topic in visible scope. But in that sense you have other possibilities. The best and most common is the ellipsis, not repeating information if it is obvious. If "la amaba", is obviously a woman and no need to say, even with a pronoun.

El odio arrebató la vida a la que amaba.

If you insist on using a pronoun, you can replace the second "que" for the omitted personal pronoun:

El odio arrebató la vida a la que yo amaba.

  • Thanks for the explanation, Rodrigo. Another related question if you don't mind: Why is it "a" and not "de" after "la vida"?
    – TheLearner
    Dec 21, 2014 at 14:53
  • 2
    @AmitSchandillia it could be either, with a small difference in meaning. With a, the life was taken from her with it only implied that it was hers. With de it was her life that was taken. Dec 21, 2014 at 14:59
  • 3
    @Rodrigo I don't think grammatical logic dictates a double que. When it does you use it: "Es más lógico que los usemos los dos que que no los usemos". As you point out, it's just a simple ellipsis Dec 21, 2014 at 15:16
  • @guifa: The first "que" means "the one" (aquella, la cual, quien, la que, ésta, la mujer). The second "que" means "I". By coincidence both "ques" were together. The solution is to omit or replace one of them.
    – Rodrigo
    Dec 21, 2014 at 15:36
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    @Rodrigo la que doesn't just mean the one, it means the one that and a verb is required afterwards: "Voy a poner la mesa" --> "Voy a poner la que……". The demonstratives can replace la mesa here without problem. But la cual, quien, and la que all introduce new clauses because they have a relative pronoun. Dec 21, 2014 at 15:55

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