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Is there a general rule where to use "Qué tanto" and where "Cuánto(s)"? Or is it just regional or based personal preferences? Could you provide examples?

  • Although this q-a isn't identical, I think it provides the answer to your question: spanish.stackexchange.com/q/27245/9385 – aparente001 May 29 '19 at 4:39
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    We actually need a canonical question for "Cuanto, Cuantos/Que tanto, Que tantos" – Mike May 29 '19 at 21:39
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I am from Mexico, and I do not think using of these phrases be regional-based, but could be.

Practically there is no difference between using "¿qué tanto(s)?" and "¿cuánto(s)?". For instance, you could ask your girlfriend:

Do you love me? Yes? How much?

¿Me amas? ¿Sí? ¿Cuánto? ¿Qué tanto?

Note you have to match gender and number with noun: "¿cuánto?, ¿cuánta?, ¿cuántos?, ¿cuántas?, ¿qué tanto?, ¿qué tanta?, ¿qué tantos?, ¿qué tantas?".

Although "¿cuántos?" and "¿cuántas?" are used more than "¿qué tantos?" and "¿qué tantas?".

¿Qué tanta leche te sirvo?: how much milk do I serve you?

¿Cuántas vacas hay en el establo?: how many cows are in the barn?

¿Qué tantas ganas tienes de besarla?: how much do you want to kiss her?

¿Qué tanto me quieres?: how much do you love me?

¿Cuántos boletos quieres?: how many tickets do you want?

Although you can exchange "¿qué tanto(a)?" for "¿cuánto(a)?" when using uncountable nouns, it is better to use "¿cuántos(as)?" with countable nouns.

In the other hand, in the case of "¿qué tanto por ciento?", although is grammatically correct, "¿qué porcentaje...?" is more commonly used. However, you are able to use "¿qué tanto por ciento de agua uso para rebajar esta pintura?", or "¿cuánto por ciento de agua debo usar para...?", or "¿qué porcentaje de agua se usa para...?".

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  • Could you please disclaim where you are from? I heard that the preferences are region-based. – Honza Zidek May 30 '19 at 5:10
  • Following the walen's comment under spanish.stackexchange.com/a/30543/11155, could you also compare "¿Qué tanto me quieres?" with "¿Qué tanto por ciento?"? – Honza Zidek May 30 '19 at 7:03
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    Another observation in your answer: in your examples you use "¿Qué tanto?" purely with uncountable nouns, and "¿Cuánto?" with countable. Is it the case, or is it just a coincidence? – Honza Zidek May 30 '19 at 7:04
  • I am from Mexico. Using "¿qué tanto?" with uncountable nouns is merely a coincidence. I could use "¿qué tanto?" instead of "¿cuánto?" in every phrase with no problem. In the case of "¿qué tanto por ciento?", although is grammatically correct, "¿qué porcentaje...?" is more commonly used. However, you are able to use "¿qué tanto por ciento de agua uso para rebajar esta pintura?", or "¿cuánto por ciento de agua debo usar...?", or "¿qué porcentaje de agua...?". – R Parada May 30 '19 at 13:24
  • Very good observation. Although you can exchange "¿qué tanto(a)?" for "¿cuánto(a)?" when using uncountable nouns, it is better to use "¿cuántos(as)?" with countable nouns. – R Parada May 31 '19 at 12:59
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It may be a regional (mainly Mexican) use, but just as I suspected the use of "qué tanto" and its variants seems to be in decline in most Spanish-speaking countries, as certified by the RAE's dictionary (https://dle.rae.es/?id=Z60aNMi):

qué tan, o qué tanto

  1. locs. advs. desus. Cuán, cuánto o cómo de. U. en oraciones interrogativas o exclamativas. U. en Am. Depende de qué tan trabajadores sean ustedes. (I have to say that "cómo de" is perhaps as infrequent as "qué tan..." to my native ears)

I only hear "qué tan" to replace the much less usual (for being too formal) "cuán":

A. Corro muy rápido.

B. Me gustaría ver qué tan rápido corres (or corrés, in my country) (instead of cuán rápido)

"qué tanto" used to be employed many years ago at the end of some reprimand or complaint, for example:

  • No quiero saber nunca más de esa persona, ¡qué tanto! (only in spoken language)
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