1

I ran across the following sentence and am confused about what "la" is referring to:

Te quedarás perplejo y te entusiasmarás al darte cuenta de la de cosas interesantes que tenías al alcance de la mano...

I see from a google search that this pattern, "al darte cuenta de la de cosas", shows up in a few other places.

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"La de cosas" means "la cantidad de cosas".

In general, in a construction of the form

definite article + noun + "de" + noun phrase

you can drop the noun if it can be inferred. E.g.:

El juguete del niño es caro. El de la niña es barato.

La ropa del niño es rosa. La de la niña es azul.

You can alternatively see it as treating "de" + noun phrase as an adjective. E.g.:

Lo del otro día fue una vergüenza.

"La de" can also be used to denote a sizeable amount of something:

Verás la de hostias que te voy a meter si no te callas.

which means

Verás la cantidad de hostias que te voy a meter si no te callas.

or

Es gracioso escuchar la de tonterías que suelta cuando se emborracha.

which means

Es gracioso escuchar la cantidad de tonterías que suelta cuando se emborracha.

Note that, while article + "de" is not particularly informal in itself, using "la de" with this meaning is very informal.

You can also use definite article + "con"/"sin", to a certain extent. You could say:

No me gusta el café solo. El con leche está más rico.

However, definite article + "con"/"sin" is informal to the point that it may be perceived as wrong, and it gets awkward when you try to use it in longer sentences.

There's also definite article + (relative pronoun) "que", which can work in a similar way:

Me gustan los garbanzos, pero no los que tú haces.

Although not all instances of definite article + "que" work like that:

Real Decreto 463/2020, de 14 de marzo, por el que se declara el estado de alarma para la gestión de la situación de crisis sanitaria ocasionada por el COVID-19.

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