Cuánto (with accent)

We write this word with an accent when its function is interrogative (even in indirect questions), exclamatory or when it represents a quantity (it can change gender and number).

Interrogative adjective: when it goes together with  a noun.

Example

  • Cuántos/How many siblings do you have?

Interrogative pronoun, when there is not any noun. 

Example:

  • I would like to know Cuántos/how many more we have to attend to (indirect question).

In exclamatory sentences as an adjective when going together with a noun. 

Example:

  • Cuántos problemas causas!

As a pronoun when going alone without the noun.

Look at my gray hair! Look Cuántas /how much your studies cost!

We also have the form cuánto which functions as an interrogative adverb and refers to quantity and has no variation of gender and number.

Interrogative adverb.

Examples

  • Cuánto/How much will a soccer ball weigh?
  • Cuánto/How long will the surgery take?

Exclamative adverb.

Example:

  • How glad I am for your visit! /¡Cuánto me alegra tu visita!
  • How much I would like to see you! ¡Cuánto me gustaría verte!
  • It can be placed before comparatives and adjectives with either interrogative or exclamatory value, and its apocope (cuán) is used. 

Interrogative adjective before an adjective.

Example:

  • Cuán/How fast is your car?
  • Cuán/How fast you  got to the finish line!

Note: interrogative sentences with cuán are not very frequent and instead of cuán we can use how fast/Qué tan rápido.

  • Qué tan/How fast does the car run?
  • Qué tan/How fast is your car?

Exclamative adverb.

Example:

  • Cuán/How hostile the little pigs are!
  • Cuán/How far that athlete throws!

Cuanto without accent.

We use cuanto without accent (unstressed) when it serves as an adjective, pronoun or adverb of quantity. Like cuánto, cuanto can also change gender and number in some cases. 

As a relative adjective: 

In front of a noun it has the function of relative adjective and is equivalent to the expression all that/ todo lo que/toda la que.

Example:

  • To make the registration payment I had to spend Cuánto/as much money as I had in the account. 

With countable nouns it can be used to replace the expression todas/os las/os que/all that.

Example:

  • I think it’s counterproductive that we have to go through how many stores there are to find the cheapest clothes. 

Creo que es contraproducente que tengamos que recorrer cuanta tienda hay para encontrar la ropa más económica. 

We use the adjective cuanto to form comparative prepositional structures about two things that run parallel, we put it in front of the adjectives más and menos

Example

  • Cuantas más/The more beers he drinks, the more his instability increases.  

Note: In this case it must agree in gender and number with the noun after the word more. 

Note: Unos cuantos/a few may be equivalent to some, a few, many. 

We use the adjective cuanto as a second comparative term in a construction that expresses equality with the word tanto. 

Example: 

  • I must take as many pills Cuantos/as how many days of rest they give me. 
  • As a relative pronoun. 
  • He was a politician voted by cuantos/ many people, but quickly lost his popularity. 

It is common to have the antecedent. 

Example: 

  • He does cuanto/as much as he wants.
  • It is not necessary for all cuantos/los que te conocen/all you know to come to the meeting.

Before the adjectives más and menos, the relative pronoun cuanto is used to establish proportional comparisons.

Example:

  • Cuanto menos/The fewer you invite to the party the better the chances of saving. 

We put the relative pronoun cuanto in plural after unos, alguno, otros. The result is a pronominal structure that indicates a small quantity (few).

Example

I get a lot of mail and only answer unos cuantos/a few of it, so I need a clerk to do it for me. 

Cuanto as a relative adverb.

In this case it has no variation of gender or number, it acts as an adverb of quantity similar to the expression todo lo que. 

Example

  • I work cuanto/as much as I need.

This relative adverb is also placed before adverbs such as mejor, peor to form proportional comparative structures. 

Example

  • Cuanto menos/The less you know is better. 
  • Cuanto más /The angrier you get, the less reasoning you have. 
  • Cuanto antes /The sooner the better (Cuanto antes/The sooner you do your homework, the better for you).

When cuanto is placed before adjectives and non-comparative adverbs, it takes the form cuan, it can be replaced by the word como.

Example:

He came as quickly as he could. Él vino cuan velozmente pudo.

Details