Questions: Quel, quels, quelle, quelles = Which / what ?

You already know that Que or Qu'est-ce que at the start of a question is used to ask what something is (See Qu'est-ce que c'est... and Qu'est-ce que c'est que ça/cela ? = What is... / What's that?,  C'est quoi, Qu'est-ce que c'est ? = What's that?).


Now look at these questions:

Quel est ton film préféré?Which / What is your favourite movie?

Quels bonbons tu as choisis?Which/What sweets did you choose?

Quelle jupe tu veux?Which/What skirt do you want?

Quelles chaussures te plaisent?Which shoes do you like?

Quelle est la plus belle princesse du royaume ?Who is the prettiest princess in the kingdom?

Quel garçon a jeté cette balle ?Which boy threw that ball?

Note that the question adjective quel also means "What/Who?" (and "Which?") in French.

So when to use quel  instead of que/quoi/qui 

Whereas que/quoi/qui will be used to define something, to ask what they are, quel is used in the context of a choice, an alternative: what is that, relative to other elements?


Note also that Quel is an adjective, so it always relates to a noun (thing/person). Therefore, it will be used when the question "What/Who" is really "What/Which <thing/person>...?" or "What is <thing>" or "Who is <person>?":

Quelle est votre adresse ?What is your address?
  ->  Here the adjective quelle goes with adresse (What address?)

 

Quel acteur voudrais-tu rencontrer ?Which actor would you like to meet?
  ->  Here the adjective quel goes with acteur (Which actor?)

 

Quel parfum de glace tu préfères ?Which ice cream flavour do you prefer?
->  Here the adjective quel goes with parfum (Which flavour?)

 

Quelle est la personne que tu admires le plus ?Who is the person you admire the most?
  ->  Here the adjective quelle goes with personne (Which person?)

 

ATTENTION: 
Quel is an adjective, so it agrees in number and gender with the thing/person it is used with ("quel", "quels", "quelle", or "quelles").

 
Case of lequel, laquelle, lesquels, lesquelles

These are pronouns, which means they're replacing pre-mentioned nouns (i.e. "Which one(s) ...?).
Therefore, they'll be used when the thing they refer to has already been mentioned, to emphasise the question:

Mets tes chaussures !
- Lesquelles ?
Put your shoes on!
- Which ones?

J'adore les bonbons !
- Oui, mais lesquels sont tes préférés ?
I love sweets!
- Yes, but which ones are your favourite?

Note that the noun is not mentioned in the question, as lequel, laquelle... already expresses it: it would be redundant!

 

See also Quel, quelle, quels, quelles + noun = What a ... 

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Examples and resources

Quelle est la plus belle princesse du royaume ?Who is the prettiest princess in the kingdom?
Quelle jupe tu veux?Which/What skirt do you want?
J'adore les bonbons !
- Oui, mais lesquels sont tes préférés ?
I love sweets!
- Yes, but which ones are your favourite?
Quel parfum de glace tu préfères ?Which ice cream flavour do you prefer?
Quels bonbons tu as choisis?Which/What sweets did you choose?
Mets tes chaussures !
- Lesquelles ?
Put your shoes on!
- Which ones?
Quelle est votre adresse ?What is your address?
Quelle est la personne que tu admires le plus ?Who is the person you admire the most?
Quel est ton film préféré?Which / What is your favourite movie?
Quel garçon a jeté cette balle ?Which boy threw that ball?
Quelles chaussures te plaisent?Which shoes do you like?
Quel acteur voudrais-tu rencontrer ?Which actor would you like to meet?
Clever stuff underway!