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The questions comes from a Duolingo discussion.

The sentence in that discussion is "¿Cuántos meses tiene tu bebé?" and the accepted answer is "How many months old is your baby?" or "How old is your baby?".

My initial translation of the sentence is "How many months do you have your baby?", and thought 'tiene' is describing the person I'm asking question to; then I realized that 'tiene' (3rd person polite *) doesn't match 'tu', and understand my answer is not correct.

However, if the sentence is "¿Cuántos meses tienes tu bebé?" or "¿Cuántos meses tiene su bebé?", can we translate it to "How many months do you have your baby?".

Update: * I meant '2nd person polite'.

  • "3rd person polite" there is no such a thing. – c.p. Oct 19 '14 at 18:43
  • @c.p. Thanks for pointing out, I meant '2nd person polite', I added updated to the bottom of the question. – Dapeng Li Oct 20 '14 at 6:27
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Your problem understanding the meaning of “¿Cuántos meses tienes tu bebé?” lies in the difference between tiene which is a third person of singular and tienes which is second person singular.

The question

“¿Cuántos meses tienes tu bebé?”

Does not make sense. Odds are that the speaker really wanted to ask:

“¿Cuántos meses tiene tu bebé?” “¿Cuántos meses (o años) tiene él o ella?”

to enquire about the age, in months of the baby.

The construction

“¿Cuántos X tienes?”

enquires the person you are talking to (tienes is second person, so you are asking " blablabla ... you ..." not " blablabla... him/her...") how much of something. For example:

“¿Cuántos meses tienes para terminar la tesis?” / How long do you have to finish your thesis?

And if you want to ask for how long they had something, you need to make use of the por preposition:

“¿Por cuántos meses has tenido dolor en el pecho?” / For how long have you had pain in your chest?

So remember:

“¿Cuántos años tienes (tú)?”

“¿Cuántos meses tiene él o ella?”

“¿Cuántos meses tenemos (nosotros) para terminar el proyecto?”

“¿Cuántos meses tenéis que esperar (vosotros) para saber el resultado?”

“¿Cuántos meses tienen tus gemelos (ellos)?”

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No, the subject to "tiene" is "bebé". The "tu/su" is a posesive. Thus, the verb must be third person singular, even if it is my baby.

A literal translation would be: "How many months does your baby have?". Note the third person in "does".

If instead you want to say "For how long have you had your baby?" The nearest phrase to the original Spanish would be "Cuánto tiempo has tenido a tu bebé?". An awkward way to ask.

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