Que Paso Vs Que Pasa: The Differences Explained


As a non-native speaker of Spanish, it can be confusing to differentiate between similar-sounding phrases. Two such phrases are “que paso” and “que pasa.” In this article, we will explore the differences between these two phrases and provide examples of how to use them correctly.

Que Paso

“Que paso” is a past tense phrase that translates to “what happened” in English. It is used when asking about a past event or situation. For example, if you want to know what happened at a party last night, you could say “que paso en la fiesta anoche.”

Another example of using “que paso” would be in a police investigation. The officer might ask “que paso aqui” to gather information about a crime scene.

Que Pasa

“Que pasa” is a present tense phrase that translates to “what’s happening” or “what’s going on” in English. It is used when asking about a current situation. For example, if you are in a meeting and notice that someone looks upset, you could ask “que pasa” to see if they need help or if there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Another example of using “que pasa” would be when checking in with a friend. You could ask “que pasa contigo” to see how they are doing and if there is anything new happening in their life.

Using the Phrases Together

While “que paso” and “que pasa” have different meanings, they can also be used together to create a more complex question. For example, if you are discussing a current situation but want to know how it relates to a past event, you could ask “que paso y que pasa ahora” (what happened and what’s happening now).

Common Mistakes

One common mistake that non-native speakers make is using “que pasa” to ask about a past event. Remember that “que paso” is the correct phrase to use for this situation.

Another mistake is using “que paso” to ask about a current situation. If you want to know what’s happening now, use “que pasa.”


Understanding the differences between “que paso” and “que pasa” is important for effective communication in Spanish. By using these phrases correctly, you can ask the right questions and get the information you need.

Remember that “que paso” is used for past events and “que pasa” is used for current situations. And if you’re ever unsure, it’s always better to ask for clarification than to make assumptions.

So next time you’re in a Spanish-speaking environment, feel confident using these phrases and understanding the responses you receive.