"Lo" is one of those really versatile words in Spanish, and can be pretty tricky for English speakers to wrap their minds around (even I struggle with it sometimes!). So today's episode finishes our overview of the main ways that "lo" is used in Spanish.
As a reminder, "Lo" can be used as 1) a direct object pronoun, 2) a neuter definite article, 3) a neuter relative pronoun, 4) combined with the preposition "de", 5) after the verbs Ser and Estar, and 6) in various Spanish phrases. We went over the first 3 in Episode 56, so today we'll finish up with the last 3.Let's dive in to what it all means!
4. Lo with De
The use of "lo de" is an interesting way to refer to something that both you and the other speaker(s) already know about. It's similar to how in English we say "about that thing you were talking about", "Do you remember what I was telling you, that story about the celebrity?", or even "Regarding the matter about the President's scandal...." While there are many ways to translate this phrase in English, it's a pretty straight and simple form in Spanish.
Here are some example sentences to demonstrate:
Ellos deben resolver lo de María. (They need to resolve that thing about María.)
Les dijé sobre lo de mi hermano. (I told them about the thing with my brother.)
Lo de ayer fue muy importante. (Yesterday's matter was very important.)
5. Lo After Ser/Estar
Do you remember in Episode 56 how we talked about "lo" as a direct object, which was use number 1? And how sometimes it can be used as a neuter direct object pronoun when it is referring to something abstract, something vague and general, or something that was previously stated? Well, you could call this use of "lo" 1.b instead of number 5, but basically you use "lo" in this way when answering questions that use the verbs ser or estar. When you do, it doesn't need to reflect any specific gender or plurality, like "la" or "los".
¿Está triste el hombre? Si, lo está. (Is that man sad? Yes, he is.)
¿Es muy anciano tu coche? No, no lo es. (Is your car very old? No, it's not.)
Tus hermanas, ¿ellas están en la oficina? No, no lo están. (Your sisters, are they in the office? No, they aren't.)
With this type of sentence structure, you could actually just drop the "lo" if you wanted to; it's really up to you.
6. Fun Phrases
And finally, here are some common, handy phrases that use "Lo"!
a lo largo de (throughout) An example sentence: A lo largo de los últimos cinco años, él ha aprendido ruso. (Throughout the last five years, he has learned Russian.)
a lo mejor (possibly or maybe) An example sentence: A lo mejor no necesitamos un coche nuevo. (Maybe we don't need a new car.)
a lo sumo (at most or at best) An example sentence: Completar nuestro proyecto nos llevará cinco días a lo sumo. (Completing our project will take five days at best.)
a lo tonto (without realizing it, accidentally doing something. It can also mean something was done poorly.) Interestingly, "tonto" means fool, gullible, or idiot. An example sentence: A lo tonto me comí todo el pastel. (I inadvertently ate the whole cake.)
Por lo tanto (as a result, therefore, or so.) While they sound very similar, don't mix up por lo tanto with a lo tonto! An example sentence: Los tiempos son difíciles, por lo tanto, hay que reducir los gastos. (Times are tough, therefore we must cut expenses.)
Por lo menos (at least) An example sentence: Por lo menos nos dejaron algo de dinero para el gas. (At least they left us some cash for the gas.)
Por lo general (generally) An example sentence: Por lo general, se llevan bien. (They generally get along.)
Por lo pronto (for now) An example sentence: Por lo pronto, puede volver a su salón de clases. (For now, you (formal) can go back to your classroom.)
Por lo bajo (under your breath or to secretly do something) An example sentence: Él criticó por lo bajo a todos sus amigos. (He secretly criticized all his friends.) or Ella lo maldeció por lo bajo. (She cursed him under her breath.)
Por lo demás (otherwise or besides that) An example sentence: El techo tiene una gotera; por lo demás, todo se ve bien. (The roof has a leak, otherwise everything looks good.)
Por lo común (another way of saying "generally") An example sentence: Por lo común, ellos comen helado los domingos. (Generally, they eat ice cream on Sundays.)
Fun sayings and phrases (I got these off of Wordreference.com):
Al que madruga Dios lo ayuda. (In Spanish, they have a verb dedicated to the idea of getting up early. Madrugar = to get up early. So this saying is the equivalent of our, "The early bird gets the worm." [More literally translated, it means, "God helps him who rises early."])
Dios lo tenga en la gloria, (This translates more as, "May God have them in glory," which we would say in English as "God rest their soul.")
El tiempo lo cura todo ("Time heals everything.")
Amigo de lo ajeno ("Ajeno" means it something that belongs to other people, so you could translate this phrase as "Friend of other people's property". It's a more polite way to call someone a thief, like how we say someone is "light-fingered". An example sentence: ¡No puedo encontrar mi bolso! ¿Él no es un amigo de lo ajeno? (I can't find my purse! He's not light-fingered, is he?)
De lo que no hay (This can kind of literally be translated as "of which there isn't", but it's basically the English equivalent of "one in a million".) An example sentence: Ella es una mujer de lo que no hay. (She's one-in-a-million!)
En lo que pueda (as much as I can) An example sentence: En lo que pueda. voy a enseñarle a bailar. (As much as a I can, I am gong to teach him to dance.)
En lo que a mí respecta (As far I'm concerned) An example sentence: En lo que a mí respecta, él puede vivir en Tombuctú. (As far as I'm concerned, he can live in Timbuktu.)
This concludes our 2-part series on "Lo"! I hope this helps :) If there are any topics you would like me to cover, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.
¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!
Cultural Tip: Argentina
Unique Argentinian Traditions
Here are 3 fun traditions that belong to Argentina!
1. International Tango Festival and World Cup (Festival y Mundial de Tango)
For 2 weeks in August, Buenos Aires hosts this free, tango-centric festival! There are free concerts, tons of vendors selling everything related to Tango, classes, presentations, kid events, etc. It looks like a lot of fun! And of course, you can't forget the Tango World Cup, where couples from around the world compete to be the best in either the traditional tango salon category (they must be able to improvise, as the music is not preselected) or the escenario (this one is choreographed).
Check out the Show Notes for links to videos and the official descriptions (English and Spanish) if you'd like to learn more about this intriguing festival (as well as the other unique customs)! (And if you'd like to learn the basics of Argentine Tango, check out this video by Viva La Dance! If you like it, they have many more videos to help you learn this unique style of dancing.)
2. International Book Fair (Feria del Libro)
Also in Buenos Aires is a 3-week book fair from April to May. There are books and book vendors all over the place! This is a book lover's dream come true. :) There are also important guest authors, talks, discussions, and debates. Before the Book Fair opens to the public, there is also 4-day event called Professional Sessions where everyone related to the publishing industry gathers for training and to do business.
3. Drinking Mate Together
This energizing green tea is made from holly plant leaves known as yerba mate and sweetened with sugar. It has a similar effect as caffeine. The drink is normally shared, with groups sipping the brew from a hollowed-out gourd, called a Calabash, with a straw called a bombilla. The cool thing about this straw is that it has a built-in filter!
© 2021 by Language Answers, LLC
Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr
"How to Use ‘Lo’ in Spanish" by Gerald Erichsen, updated February 03, 2020, for ThoughtCo.
"4 Ways to Use “Lo” to Replace or Create Any New Idea" by Real Fast Spanish
"The article lo - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish" by Collins
"International Tango Festival and World Cup" Official English Website for the City of Buenos Aires "Festival y Mundial de Tango" Sitio oficial de turismo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires" Spanish Version.
"Buenos Aires, Argentina: EP 4 Tango Festival Y Mundial" by Bare Feet with Mickela Mollozzi, uploaded to YouTube April 11, 2013
"Tango BA - Se viene Tango Buenos Aires Festival y Mundial 2015!" by FestivalesBA, uploaded to YouTube on August 5, 2015
"Basic Argentine Tango for fun at home" by Vivaladance, uploaded to YouTube on April 20, 2020
"The Top 5 Cultural Celebrations in Argentina" by Julie Ritz on January 25, 2019 for Capa World
"Opening of the Buenos Aires Book Fair" by AP Archive, uploaded to YouTube on May 6, 2017
"Argentina Culture Guide: 11 Can’t-Miss Customs & Traditions" by Celebrity Cruises
"Yerba Mate" by Celebrity Cruises
"How to Make Yerba Mate" by Wiki How, updated May 6, 2021
"Yerba Mate | Thirsty For ..." by Tastemade, uploaded to YouTube on April 23, 2013