Is there a possibility when we can use both, "cuál" and "que" at the same time with no difference in meaning?

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    Hello, user, and welcome to Spanish Language! Reading the question I don't know if you know the difference between "qué" and "cuál", and you only want to know if they can be sometimes swtiched, or if you also want to know the difference between them. Could you expand your question? Please, read How to Ask for more information.
    – Charlie
    Nov 9 '17 at 14:02

Qué vs Cuál

Both qué and cuál can be used when asking to pick one of several objects, e.g.:

¿Qué puerta quieres abrir?
¿Cuál puerta quieres abrir?

The two sentences mean exactly the same.

Note that both words carry an orthographic accent, since they are introducing a question.

For further uses, the DPD article on cuál explains when is it equivalent to qué:

  1. Antepuesto a un sustantivo, funciona como adjetivo interrogativo. En ese caso equivale a qué (→ qué), y su uso es mucho más frecuente en América que en España: «—Queremos ver a la muchacha. —¿Cuál muchacha?» (Fuentes Cristóbal [Méx. 1987]); «Oyó hablar a las primas con naturalidad de cuáles parejas de la familia seguían haciendo el amor» (GaMárquez Amor [Col. 1985]); «Sabía de cuál imbécil me estaba hablando» (Grandes Edades [Esp. 1989]).

Que vs Cual

Cual can be, in most cases, replaced with que when it is preceded by a definite article (with number and gender variability) to refer to something previously introduced. E.g.:

Cuéntame ese chiste del cual nos reímos tanto ayer.
Cuéntame ese chiste del que nos reímos tanto ayer.

O también:

Esa es una sugerencia con la cual estoy completamente de acuerdo.
Esa es una sugerencia con la que estoy completamente de acuerdo.

It also works in plural, but then it would be que vs cuales, instead of cual:

Tengo dos bicicletas, de las cuales una está rota y la otra no funciona.
Tengo dos bicicletas, de las que una está rota y la otra no funciona.

The DPD article on cual explains the cases in which it cannot be replaced with que.

Que vs Cuál, or Qué vs Cual

Graphical accents in Spanish are used sometimes to tell apart different meanings or even purposes of the same word.
Qué and cuál are written with an accent when they have an interrogative or exclamative function, and in some other specific cases (which you can find in the articles linked above).

Thus, you cannot substitute an accented cuál for a plain que, nor an accented qué for a plain cual: if one of the words is written with an accent and the other is not, they don't mean the same anymore.


Structurally speaking, you can, same as in English. However there could be a slight difference in the concreteness answer you will get with either.

For instance; when asking some one about the shoes s/he will wear:

  • ¿Cuáles zapatos vas a usar? - (Which shoes will you wear?)

In this case you are implying a limited set of shoes from which the person you are asking should pick from. This indicates that you are expecting a concrete answer (Something like: "This pair" or "My favorite red ones").

  • ¿Que zapatos vas a usar? - (What shoes will you wear?)

In contrast, this case is not specifying a limited universe of shoes to pick from, its a way more open question, so the answer you might get could be not concrete as you might expect (Something like "The ones that match my purse" or "high heels").

Now in most cases you can use them interchangeably without any noticeable differences. So don't over think it.

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