Apologies in advance for not knowing the specific linguistic terms! I want to translate a phrase like the following:

"Which kinds are they certified to teach?"

Would something like "¿Qué tipos está certificado para enseñar el instructor" be correct? Or perhaps breaking up the "verb phrase" (estar certificado para enseñar) to put the corresponding subject next to the seemingly discordant conjugation so that it is more apparent which part it pertains to, like so?
"...está certificado el instructor para enseñar"
"¿Para cuáles estilos tiene licencia para enseñar el instructor?"

I suppose my main concern is if that rearrangement of the verb phrase conjugated for the subject (instructor) sounds weird or not. Even though the verb "estar" here is meant to be conjugated for "el instructor," is a different construction normally used because it sounds weird to have a verb conjugated for a single person right next to a plural noun?


  • Welcome to the site! You seem to be translating "they" in "Which kinds are they certified to teach?" as "el instructor". Is it a singular they, or is there a group of instructors?
    – wimi
    Dec 22, 2020 at 21:03
  • Thank you! And I am translating it as a singular they, as in the one instructor. Sorry for the confusion!
    – Francesca
    Dec 22, 2020 at 21:07
  • In the past the word "they" was always plural. In the least twenty years, it has been used as a gender neutral third person singular. That appears to be the way the OP is using it. Dec 23, 2020 at 2:33

1 Answer 1


Word order in Spanish is quite free (example). Usually, you choose the order based on what you want to emphasize. So

  • ¿Qué estilos/tipos está certificado para enseñar el instructor?


  • ¿Qué estilos/tipos está certificado el instructor para enseñar?

are equally correct. I do not know whether "estilos" or "tipos" is best, because I do not know the context. You could also say

  • ¿Qué estilos/tipos está el instructor certificado para enseñar?

This last sentence, while also correct, sounds a little bit too English-like to me, but that may well just be me. The other two are more like what I would say.

Regarding verbs conjugated in singular next to a plural noun, this happens every time that the (plural) direct object is next to the verb and the subject is singular. With a shorter sentence, it is easier to see that there is no problem with this:

  • ¿Qué camisetas ha comprado Pedro?
  • Another problem with the third example is that it might cause confusion: "¿Qué estilos/tipos está el instructor certificado para enseñar?" It might give the idea that certificado is an adjective for instructor. As if we were talking of the certified instructor rather than asking about his certifications Dec 23, 2020 at 12:34
  • Thank you both! Alejandro, that is a fair point; perhaps using "se certifica para enseñar" would clarify that the question lies not in if the instructor is certified, but rather for what he is certified?
    – Francesca
    Dec 23, 2020 at 21:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.