My friend, who is called...

rosaespanola

Member
English
Apologies if something similar has been asked and answered before, but there are such a huge number of threads involving "quien" and "que" that I could have easily missed it.
I've always thought that when translating a sentence such as "my friend, who is called..." you would use "que" to translate "who" --> "mi amiga, que se llama..."
A colleague says that this should be translated with "quien" --> "mi amiga, quien se llama..."
She does speak Spanish more fluently than I do, so I'm totally prepared to be wrong, but I'm sure I've never heard that before and it just sounds wrong to me. If it is correct, can anyone explain or point me to information about when to use "que" and when to use "quien" in this type of sentence?
 
  • MonsieurGonzalito

    Senior Member
    Castellano de Argentina
    Adjectival Subordinate Proposition
    The girl who just spoke is my sister.
    "who just spoke" is an included proposition. Inside it, "who" is also its subject (do not mistake with "the girl", which is the subject of the main sentence). Syntactically, "who just spoke" works as and adjective "The talkative girl", hence, it is an "adjectival, subordinate proposition"
    "Who" is a nexus introducing such subordinate propositions. Because in addition to introducing said subordinated proposition, it fulfills a function inside it, it is call a "relational" nexus.

    Apposition
    Then there is the concep of an "apposition". This is a phrase that it is not subordinated to another noun/nominal nucleus, but it is equivalent, explanatory, and usually interchangeable with it.

    That girl, who stands out, is my sister. => In this case, "who stands out" it is not subordinated to "that girl", it is at the same level, and interchangeable with it. It is always delimited by commas, and it is called "apposition".
    The "who" inside "who stands out" still has the function of subject inside the apposition. But it is not a "nexus" because there is nothing to subordinate. Think of it as: That girl, the remarkable one, is my sister. Both "who stands out" and "the remarkable one" are appositions.


    In Spanish
    Roughly speaking, "que" is used as a relational nexus, to head an adjectival, subordinated proposition.
    La chica que recién habló es mi hermana.

    Whereas "quien" most of the time heads an apposition.
    Esa chica, quien realmente se destaca, es mi hermana.

    That is the gist of it.

    There are borderline cases in which, in a somewhat forced way, one could think of adjectival prahses headed by a "quien", but for the most part is just as I have explained.
    You will be better off thinking of "quien" as a "false friend" of "who", for syntactic purposes.


    OP
    Also, in relation to your examples:

    Mi amiga, quien se llama María, es bailarina.
    Mi amiga, que se llama María, es bailarina.


    Are both correct. It is acceptable for "que" to also head an apposition. But conversely, it is (usually) not acceptable for "quien" to head a subordinated adjectival proposition.
     
    I've always thought that when translating a sentence such as "my friend, who is called..." you would use "que" to translate "who" --> "mi amiga, que se llama..."
    A colleague says that this should be translated with "quien" --> "mi amiga, quien se llama..."
    Perhaps this is a question of punctuation, which is critical here, and may explain your "quarrel" with your friend. With the comma, your example is interpreted to mean that who is called___ simply renames my friend, i.e., the two are in apposition, and your only friend is whoever gets named after who is called. I doubt it's the case that you have only one friend (In fact, I already know of two: you yourself, and your Spanish-speaking friend :) :) ), in which case the comma should be eliminated, and who is called___ should/will be treated as essential information specifying just which of your friends you are referring to -- My friend @MonsieurGonzalito, my friend @rosaespanola, etc.

    To summarize:
    Mi amiga que se llama___ --> You have more than one friend, and to specify which, your friend has to be described (e.g., by name) (que se llama is a restrictive clause)
    Mi amiga, quien/que se llama___ --> You have only one friend; naming them is not essential to specifying them (quien/que se llama is a nonrestrictive clause)

    I work as a copy editor, and I run across this problem all the time, so I'm betting it's the issue here.
     
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    Rocko!

    Senior Member
    Español - México
    My friend, who, by the way, is called Barbra = My friend, who is called Barbra —> Mi amiga, quien se llama Barbra = Mi amiga, quien, por cierto, se llama Barbra. /// Mi amiga, que se llama Barbra,...

    My friend named/called Barbra —> Mi amiga llamada Barbra = Mi amiga que se llama Barbra
     
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