8

I read from a book: Ya he pensado todo lo que tenia que pensar hoy. Why do we need to add ‘lo’ in this sentence? Why not just: Ya he pensado todo que tenia que pensar hoy.?

2 Answers 2

9

Singular "todo" can be an adjective, meaning "every" (or "any"), or a pronoun, meaning "all" or "everything":

  • Todo pensamiento cuenta (Every thought counts).
  • Todo cuenta (Everything counts).

"Lo que" is a nominal relative pronoun equivalent to English "what", while "que" is a relative pronoun equivalent to English "that" ("que" can also be a conjunction, but that is not the point here).

Curiously, while other similar pronouns like "algo" ("something"), "poco" ("little") and "mucho" ("a lot") can be modified by a relative clause introduced by "que", "todo" cannot:

  • Ya he pensado algo que puedo hacer. (I've already thought of something that I can do.)

  • Hay poco que puedes hacer. (There is little that you can do.)

  • Hay mucho que puedes hacer. (There is a lot that you can do.)

With "todo", "que" alone is ungrammatical and "lo que" is required. In this case, "lo que" acts as a noun ("the things that") and "todo" functions as an adjective). This is different from English, where "all" is a pronoun that can be modified by relative "that":

  • Esto es todo LO QUE puedo hacer. (This is all that I can do.)
1

"Lo que" serves as a neuter relative pronoun, usually meaning "that," "what", "it", "that which", "whatever", "the thing", "the things" or "the thing(s) that". It is used here to refer to a general idea and cannot be omitted in Spanish, i.e.

  • Ya he pensado todo lo que[=the things that] tenía que pensar hoy(I've thought everything [ ] I had...)
  • Ahorraba lo que le sobraba de(she saved whatever[=cualquier cosa, lo que sea, lo que estaba a su alcance] was left over of..)
  • Perdió todo lo que(=the things that he/she had in there, in other words, EVERYTHING) había tenido.
  • Todo lo que tenemos es aquí y ahora(=that's all there is, nothing more)
  • Lo primero en lo que hay que(=The first thing we have to)
3
  • Thank you for your explanation. When can I just use ‘que’ instead of ‘lo que’? What are the differences?
    – Alan
    Nov 7, 2021 at 6:53
  • @Alan In a context such as your example suggests, "que" makes no sense without "lo".
    – cocteau
    Nov 7, 2021 at 13:21
  • @Alan -- the question "When can I just use ‘que’ instead of ‘lo que’?" is "ill-formed", in that, well, there are many uses of "que" that are not even related to the possibility of "lo que" ("pienso que la respuesta es NO"; "no conozco a nadie que omita el LO"), .... see other examples in Gustavson's answer, where "que" is used without "lo" before. I guess I would answer your question as: in any example/scenario where one would say "lo que", you simply cannot omit the "lo" ("haré lo que yo quiera"; "esto es lo que se me ocurre como respuesta", "memoricé todo lo que he leído hoy", etc.)
    – Cal-linux
    Nov 13, 2021 at 13:15

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.