Every quip begins with Qué.

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In Spanish, the word que is a swiss army knife – useful in any number of situaciones.


Que can be a conjunction, it can be a pronoun.

Que can mean that, that which, that who, that whom, and than.


Add an accent over the eQué – and it means what.


I know what you’re thinking…

“Who cares about grammar and the conjunction function, you Spanish nerd? Give me some cool one-liners to say!”



Fine then.

Don’t yell at me.


Here are 7 jobsite-ready one-liners to try out – all starting with Qué.



¿Qué tal?

(kay TAHL)

How’s it going?


Standard intro. Safe for any situation.



¿Qué onda?

(kay OHN-dah)



Cool intro. Don’t use with people over the age of 50. Don’t use it at church or with your girlfriend’s father. And keep in mind this a Mexican phrase. ¿Qué onda? won’t work as well with the Puerto Rican crowd in NYC or Cubans in Miami.




¡Qué leche!

(kay LAY-chay)

What luck!


Leche actually means milk, but in this one-liner it means suerte – luck.

When you pass the insulation inspection without any insulación… say this.




¡Qué padre!

(kay PAH-dray)

How cool!


In my early 20’s I lived in Guadalajara, MX. The locals I hung with were always saying padre. Qué padre… muy padre… padrísimo…





Padre literally means father as in dad or priest like those living in San Diego.

But when you add qué, it’s the gringo version of cool, badass, or sweet.




¡Qué oso!

(kay OH-soh)

How embarrassing!


Oso literally means bear, the animal. Add qué and it means “How embarrassing!” When the drywall foreman shows up with a black eye courtesy of his ex-girlfriend… bring out the bear: ¡Qué oso!




¡Qué va!

(kay BAH)

Oh, come on!


There’s no shortage of workers who want to display less than the full extent of their craftsmanship.

They’re lazy.

¡Qué va! is the 2 syllable answer to this.




¡Qué tonterías!

(kay tohn-tay-REE-ahs)

What BS!


For serious bullshit, bring out the big guns: ¡Qué tonterías! Tonto is an adjective you may recall from freshman year high school Spanish meaning stoopid. Tonterías means stupidness or nonsense. Add qué and it kicks it up a notch to “What BS!”





See this on your job and say, ¡Qué tonterías!



So there you go.

Seven shovel-ready one-liners all starting with the word, qué.



Qué padre.




Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (www.redanglespanish.com), a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish language gap in the construction industry.

Categories: Construction Spanish

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