Lo que vs Qué
I was wondering if someone could give me a quick explanation of the difference between lo que/que/qué ?
Did he tell you what he told me yesterday?
1) él te dijo lo que él me dijo ayer?
2) él te dijo qué él me dijo ayer?
As I am in the early stages learning spanish by myself, I have begun to translate 'lo que' as "that which". Is this assumption correct? And is there anything grammatically incorrect in the second translation? I am finding myself stumbling over the many uses of the word/pronoun 'lo"!!!
"You do hear 'what' used incorrectly in English sometimes -
'Did I show you the iPod what I found?' "
Nobody who speaks English as a first language, or fluently, would ever say this.
As for the question...I would translate "lo que" as "what" (as in an object or idea) "Te dijo lo que estaba pensando" He told you what he was thinking, the "What" being "whatever it was". If you said "te dijo que estaba pensando" it would mean "he told you that he was thinking" So therefore I would translate "que" (when used in the middle of a sentence, like so) as "that".
"Yo sé que tu quieres ir al banco" - I know that you want to go to the bank
"Yo sé lo que quieres hacer" - I know what you want to do.
"Me dices que estás pensando" - You tell me that you are thinking.
"Me dices lo que estás pensando" - You tell me what you are thinking.
I hope this helps you see the difference!
PS "qué" with an accent on the "e" is only used when it is a question word. (¿Qué haces?, ¿Qué estás pensando?, etc). Good luck with your Spanish!!
Very good question. With my limited experience I have found that 'that which' for 'lo que' always gives a sensible English translation even if it sounds a little old fashioned.
'What' in English can be interrogative or (I think) a pronoun, but in Spanish the two uses are distinguished by the tilde. So 'qué' starts a question. But 'que' in the middle of a sentence is sometimes like the other use of what in English, but it can mean 'than' as well.
I am not 100% certain about your second example but it doesn't look quite right to me because you have written 'qué' and the second 'what' in your example is not interrogative; the question is in '¿él te dijo ...?'. In fact, the 'what' introduces an indirect object clause which is exactly how I would interpret 'lo que él me dijo'.
You do hear 'what' used incorrectly in English sometimes -
'Did I show you the iPod what I found?' The speaker means 'that', but if you don't specify the indirect object 'Did I show you what I found?' is good usage today and 'Did I show you that which I found?' is accurate but does sound rather old fashioned.
To throw in some confusion: if you are studying the difference between que/lo que/and qué you should also consider the use of qué in indirect questions and the difference between que and lo que as relative pronouns.
No sé dónde está. (I don't know where he is.) (it is dónde; not donde and qué can be used similarly)
que/lo que as relative pronouns Which to use according to distance from antecedent.
And to make you wonder about indirect question use:
Tip: when the word “what” appears in a sentence and is not a question word, it is normally translated as lo que.
This is a good question. I will tell you my opinion. Que = "that", or at the beginning of the sentence it can mean "what". "Lo que" in the middle of the sentence means "what" but is not always used the same way as we would use it in English. For the beginning student I would just remember that in middle of a sentence "lo que" = "what" and at the beginning it means either "what" or "that" depending on context, whereas in the middle it usually means "that" although it can also mean "what".. Due to my browser being Opera, I am unable to produce the tilde accent mark. FYI these are the types of questions that I love to see in this forum.
All very good explanations, thank you very much. And it seems that I can rationalize most of my questions about 'lo que' by considering all of your tips in combination! Thank you!
Do (que' es lo que hacer muy bien) give the same meaning to (que' puedes hacer muy bien)
and instead of saying que' es lo que no puedes hacer can i say que' no puedes hacer and also give the same meaning
More of this difference is in the meaning; so, if you say (que), this means that you are considering undefined matter; while, (lo que), this means that you are explaining direct and a more defined matter..... It will be sometimes similar to the rule of (su) and (a su)
yo veo que tù hablas...... I see that you speak ( you see him speaking only )
yo veo lo que tù hablas..... I see what you speak ( you see and understand )