These neuter relative pronouns refer to a situation, an unknown antecedent or concept, not a specific masculine / feminine noun or pronoun

I am comfortable with the following usage

Sé todo lo que haces para mejorar.I know everything that you do to improve.

Dicen que soy guapa, lo que es verdad. They say I'm pretty,which is true.

However, there are some examples where the antecedent is a noun in which lo que/lo cual is used but I feel as though que should have been used instead. i.e I am having trouble understanding whether the antecedent is specific or not.


Tengo una manta de sobra, lo cual no necesito.I have an extra blanket, which I don't need.

lo cual is used when the antecedent is not specific so why is it being used here? isn't la manta a specific antecedent? shouldn't que be used here?


Panamá tiene acceso a dos océanos, lo que facilita su economía.Panama has access to two oceans, which facilitates its economy.

lo que is used here since the something being mentioned is acceso a dos océanos not the dos oéanos.

However, if the something being mentioned was the dos océanos then que would have been used

Panamá tiene dos océanos, que facilita su economía. Panama has to two oceans, which facilitates its economy.

Am I right?


Hay nubes, lo que indica lluvia. There are clouds, which indicates rain.

isn't nubes, the something being mentioned a specific feminine noun so why isn't que being used

or is it that there are clouds is not specific as opposed to these are the clouds as in the following sentence?

estas son las nubes que parecen elefantes these are the clouds that look like elephants

Assuming "These are + noun..." is specific and "There are + noun" isn't specific, then what about

estas son las manzanas... vs estas son las manzanas...

or even the following

una manzana que es roja... vs la manzana que es roja....

since la is specific and una isn't

or what about people - I know quien/es is used for people but if "there are clouds" isn't specific then "there are people" isn't specific also

Estas son las personas que están tristes these are the people who are sad.


Hay personas lo que están tristes there are people who are sad

  • "Tengo una manta de sobra, lo cual " i don't think this is correct. I believe it should be "la cual". I'm not 100% sure though.
    – Brian H.
    Feb 13, 2018 at 10:47

2 Answers 2


1) I don't know where you got this sentence, but it has a problem. The simplest fix is

Tengo una manta de sobra, la cual no necesito.

(because manta is feminine).

To answer your question: you wrote, "lo cual is used when the antecedent is not specific," but that is not correct. Go back and look at what you wrote in your previous question.

2) I will make a small correction to your sentence:

Panamá tiene dos océanos, lo cual facilita su economía.

It's the concept of having two oceans that is the antecedent here, and lo cual is a great way to refer back to the concept of the phrase before the comma. Here's how I would think about it in English:

Panama has two oceans, which is a situation that favors economic development.

Notice that the following is different:

Panamá tiene dos océanos, que han tenido un gran efecto en su historia. | Panamá has two oceans, which have had a large effect on its history.

Here, the connection, que, refers back to just the noun, "oceans." (In other words, your analysis was good.)

3) The reason "que" isn't used here is that the thing that indicates rain is the whole phrase or concept ("hay nubes"), as opposed to just the noun ("nubes").

What you said about clouds not being specific looks like a pretty good analysis.

Your examples with the manzanas (plural) are impossible to respond to because you inadvertently wrote two identical phrases.

Your next example, about the red apple, looks fine, but I don't like your analysis there. The important point here isn't whether there's a definite article (the) or an indefinite article (un/una).

Now let's look at your last example:

Estas son las personas que están tristes

This is A-OK. However, your alternative ("Hay personas lo que están tristes") does not work.

  • can you explain to me why "Hay personas lo que están tristes¨doesn´t work? thank you! Oct 2, 2019 at 20:04
  • 1
    @Spanishbeginner - The simplest answer is that a simple connector (which/que) is sufficient for that sentence. Oct 2, 2019 at 20:51

To check whether a neuter or a specific-gender (as well as specific-number) relative pronoun is needed in a non-restrictive clause we have to focus on the relative clause and imagine the object of its verb.

If the pronoun is number-specific, a plural antecedent will require a plural verb.

In sentence 1), "lo cual" is wrong because the relative can be expanded into:

  • No necesito una manta de sobra.

However, this would work:

1') Tengo una manta de sobra, lo cual no es necesario.

The generic predicate allows for an infinitival subject:

  • No es necesario tener una manta de sobra

and this fits in with the definition of conceptual or situational antecedent that is required for "lo que" or "lo cual" to work.

In sentence 2), the antecedent is not merely "access to two oceans", but "the fact that Panama has access to two oceans": this is what fosters its economy.

The sentence Panamá tiene dos océanos, que facilita su economía is wrong. With a relative pronoun like "que" number agreement is required:

2') Panamá tiene acceso a dos océanos, que le permiten mirar por igual hacia Europa y hacia Asia (... which enable it to look towards Europe and Asia alike).

We can of course also say:

2'') Panamá tiene acceso a dos océanos, lo que/lo cual le permite mirar por igual hacia Europa y hacia Asia (... which enables it to look towards Europe and Asia alike)

In sentence 3), the antecedent is not just "nubes" but "el hecho de haber nubes", o "la existencia de nubes".

We can, however, think of a similar sentence in which "nubes" is made the antecedent and a plural verb is required:

3') Hay nubes que anuncian lluvia.

Notice that, in the sentence above, since the referent is general we need a restrictive clause that defines it (so the comma needs to be eliminated).

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