I entered this into Google translate:

the pope eats spuds*; is he a cannibal?

...and got:

el Papa come papas; es que un caníbal?

Is this right, "que"? Should it be, "es el un caníbal?" o algo distinto?

  • If I enter "potatoes" I get "patatas"
  • It's an untranslatable joke: "El Papa come papas... ¿es él un caníbal?". Papas = patatas = potatoes.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 15:50

2 Answers 2


No. You have 2 ways:

  1. ¿Es él un caníbal?
  2. ¿Es un caníbal?

Second option is preferred because you already know who you're referring to.

  • Could you say ¿Es caníbal? I feel sure I have heard similar usage but perhaps my memory is at fault here.
    – mdewey
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 16:11
  • 1
    @mdewey Yes, actually the article can be omitted.
    – Schwale
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 16:13

You could keep que que to introduce a subordinate sentence, but you need a verb for that subordinate sentence.

El Papa come papas. ¿Es que un caníbal? (wrong)

El Papa come papas; ¿es que (él) es un caníbal? (pronoun could go before or after the second "es")

This que could be switched for acaso or "por casualidad", and then you won't need the verb

el Papa come papas. ¿Es acaso un caníbal? (or "¿Acaso es un caníbal?")

el Papa come papas. ¿Es por casualidad un caníbal?

Because que can be used a conjunction to introduce subordinate sentences (see apt 2 here). Acaso works as a conjunction too. In this case you can have only one "es" and this will belong to the subordinate sentence. In the "que" case you need two, one for the subordinate and one for the main sentence.

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