As a Spanish learner, whether beginner, intermediate, or advanced, you have probably come across the article lo in front of certain words. Have you wondered what it means or what it is used for? You are not the only one. Lo is the gender-free or neuter Spanish article. It is, in most cases, used to stand in for general things or abstract ideas.
The closest English equivalent for the neuter article is “thing”, although there’s not always a direct translation. In most cases, it is put in front of an adjective. However, there are some other instances to take into account.
Think about the phrase: lo difícil de aprender español es la gramática/ the difficult part about learning Spanish is grammar. Is it really? Well, it entails some practice but it is not an impossible subject to learn.
Lo with Adjectives
When making an abstract noun or expressing a quality, lo is used before adjectives. It is often translated as ‘‘the thing’’ or ‘‘the part’’ depending on the sentence. Adjectives such as importante “important,” peor “worst,” interesante “interesting,” malo “bad,” and bueno ‘‘good’’ are the most common ones used with lo. For example:
Lo difícil es sacar buenas notas en la escuela. - The difficult thing is getting good grades in school.
Lo peor es que me voy a casa. - The worst part is that I’m going home.
Lo importante es calmarse. – The important thing is to calm down.
Lo bueno es que podemos quedarnos esta noche aquí. - The good thing is that we can stay the night here.
Lo interesante es que hay más de uno. - The interesting part is that there is more than one.
Lo can also be used with Spanish superlatives. For example:
Lo más importante es que estés aquí. - The most important thing is that you are here.
Lo as a Direct-Object Pronoun
If you, for example, want to talk about an unnamed thing or a previously stated situation, you should use lo. In most cases it is attached to a verb, but it can also be placed before a verb and after a negative word.
No puedo encontrarlo. - I can’t find it.
No puedo verlo. - I can’t see it.
No puedo entenderlo. - I can’t understand it.
No lo entiendo. - I don’t understand it.
No lo acepto. - I don’t accept it.
Lo encontré en la calle. - I found it in the street.
Lo with Que
Lo can make sentences shorter, especially if it’s combined with an adjective or adverb plus que. In a similar manner, lo can be used with que to refer to relative pronouns meaning ‘‘that’’ or ‘‘what.’’
¿Ves lo rápido que es? - Do you see how fast it is?
¿Entiendes lo difícil que es? - Do you understand how difficult that is?
¿Comprendes lo grave que realmente es? - Do you understand how serious it really is?
Mi mamá me dio todo lo que quería. - My mom gave me everything that I wanted.
Eso es lo que quiero. - That is what I want.
Lo Combined with Ser/Estar
Sometimes, if you want to talk about a preceding adjective or noun, you can use lo before the verbs ser or estar when answering questions.
¿Es viejo tu celular?
Sí, si lo es.
Is your cellphone old?
Yes, it is.
¿Está tu casa lejos de aquí?
No, no lo está.
Is your house far from here?
No, it isn’t.
¿Es bueno tu profesor?
Sí, si lo es.
Is your teacher good?
Yes, he is.
No, no lo estábamos.
Were you comfortable?
No, we weren’t.
Lo as a Condition
There is a very Spanish construction that means “like” or “in the manner of.” In order to use it, you have to add lo in front of the preposition a. For example:
Él habla a lo colombiano. - He talks like a Colombian.
Mi papá definitivamente habla a lo loco. - My dad definitely talks like crazy.
Got the General Idea?
As you can see, lo is a very useful article that can be attached or placed before an adjective to talk about abstract things in general. If studied and learned well, this will definitely boost your Spanish conversation and fluency in no time ¿Lo ves ahora?