Using ‘Donde’ and Related Terms To Mean ‘Where’

‘Donde’ sometimes preceded by preposition not translated to English

person standing on arrow
Quiero saber adónde voy. (I want to know where I am going.).

  Ignas Jokubaitis / EyeEm / Getty Images 

Donde and related words and phrases are used in Spanish to indicate the concept of where. The different forms can be easy to confuse, and even native speakers don't always clearly distinguish between sound-alikes such as adonde and a donde. Here are the most common uses:

Donde

Donde typically functions as a relative pronoun following a noun or preposition. Its use is a bit broader than the English "where," so it can sometimes be translated as "which" or "in which."

  • Es la casa donde nació mi madre. (It's the house where my mother was born.)
  • El lugar donde vivimos nos hace quienes somos. (The place where we live makes us what we are.)
  • Las escrituras son el espejo donde vemos el alma. (The scriptures are the mirror in which we see the soul.)
  • Encontraron un lugar estratégico desde donde se podían controlar las cañones. (They found a strategic place from which they could control the cannons.)

When donde is used in a phrase that functions as an adverb to affect the meaning of a verb, it typically is preceded by a preposition such as a, en, or de. The preposition is not typically translated to English, although a phrase such as "in the place that" or "from where" could substitute for "where."

  • Invierte tu dinero en donde esté tu corazón. (Invest your money where your heart is. The phrase en donde refers back to the verb invierte. The sentence could alternatively be translate as "Invest your money in the place your heart is.")
  • No sé de donde obtenía ella el poder para ver el futuro. (I don't know from where she got the power to see the future. The phrase de donde refers back to the verb . The sentence could alternatively be translated as "I don't know from where she got the power to see the future.)
  • Fueron a donde estaban las chicas. (They went where the girls were. "To" in the translation is optional.)
  • Viajo a donde los mapas terminan. (I'm journeying to where the maps end.)

Dónde

Dónde is similar to donde but is used in questions, indirect questions, and exclamations. If you're asking something that expresses the concept of "where to" and want to use the preposition a, use adónde (see below), which is the equivalent of a dónde, although the former is preferred. Note that dónde without a preposition does not indicate movement:

  • ¿Dónde comemos hoy? (Where are we eating today?_
  • ¿Dónde en el web puedo crear mi cuenta? (Where on the web page can I create my account?)
  • ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)
  • No quiero saber dónde has estado o que has visto. (I don't want to know where you have been or what you have seen.)
  • i¡Hacia dónde vamos? (Where in the world are we going to?)
  • No sé dónde está. (I don't know where he is.)

Adonde

Adonde usually functions as a relative adverb, typically following a location and followed by a verb of motion.

  • Pueden escoger la escuela adonde quieren enviar a sus hijos. (You can choose the school where you want to send your children to.)
  • Aquella es la playa adonde fuimos hace unos años. (That is the beach were we went to some years ago.)
  • Están en un remoto pueblo adonde viajaron para dar un concierto. (They're in a remote village where they went to give a concert.)

Adónde

Adónde is used in direct and indirect questions to indicate motion toward a place:

  • ¿Adónde vamos después que morimos? (Where do we go to after we die?)
  • ¿Adónde sales con tus amigos? (Where are you leaving to with your friends?)
  • No tengo la menor idea adónde nos llevará. (I don't have the slightest idea where it will take us to.)

Dondequiera

Dondequiera (or, less commonly, adondequiera) is typically used as an adverb meaning "anywhere," "everywhere," or "anyplace." It is sometimes spelled as two words: donde quiera.

  • No había una escalera dondequiera. (There weren't stairs anywhere.)
  • Triunfaremos dondequiera que vamos. (We will triumph wherever we go.)
  • Dondequiera que fue mi amigo, encontró problemas. (Wherever my friend went he ran into problems.)
  • Dondequiera veo gente abrazandose y eso me hace sentir tan feliz. (Wherever I look I see people hugging each other than this makes me feel so happy.)
  • Nos encontraríamos caminando por dondequiera en el desierto sin propósito ni dirección. (We found ourselves walking everywhere in the desert without aim or purpose.)

Although less common, donde sea is sometimes used in the same way:

  • Iré a donde sea que se me abra una puerta. (I will go to wherever a door opens for me.)
  • Puedes comer saludable donde sea. (You can eat healthy anywhere.)

Key Takeaways

  • Donde is typically used as a relative pronoun to mean "where" and can follow a noun or a preposition.
  • When donde is used to affect the meaning of a verb, it is preceded by a preposition such as a, de, or en.
  • The accented form of dónde is used for "where" in questions.