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3 Vote

I've found an old book to Spanish and there is a sentence, which goes like this: ¿Es bonita la muchacha? the answer is : No, no lo es.

  1. Could it be: ¿Es la muchacha bonita? and what is the difference between these two question?

  2. what does this"lo" mean?

if I'm bothersome - please forgive me, but i'm just a beginner and I really want to learn Spanish ( and English as well) so please help me with this question toosmile2.

5 Answers

6 Vote

Could it be: ¿Es la muchacha bonita? and what is the difference between these two question?

Yes, it could be. The difference is that whichever word comes first, takes the focus of the sentence, as if all the other elements are secundary.

what does this"lo" mean?

This "lo" is only used with "ser", "estar", "parecer" and "resultar" (mainly), and it is a kind of "it" that refers to whatever we are talking about.

[Él] Es bueno - Sí, lo es (=yes, he is indeed)

[Ella] Es buena - Sí, lo es (=yes, she is indeed)

[Ellos] Son buenos - Sí, lo son (=yes, they are indeed)

  • Qué buena respuesta - Dakie May 10, 2011 flag
  • You're an excellent teacher Laz - patch May 10, 2011 flag
2 Vote

Good pair of questions, Madeline. And just the opposite of bothersome.

Let me take the second part first. "Lo" in this case functions as a "neuter pronoun," but shows a peculiar use of pronouns that occurs in Spanish, not English. As you know, strictly speaking, a pronoun takes the place of a noun. Here it takes the place of a quality (being pretty). And, here's the really peculiar part: Physically, "lo" takes the place of an adjective in a sentence.

"¿Es bonita la muchacha?" would require the complete answer, "Sí, es bonita." "Lo" takes the place of the adjective ("bonita") as a quality of the subject. And you always use the neuter pronoun (same as the masculine one) for any quality, regardless of whether the adjective denoting that quality is masculine, feminine, singular or plural: bonita, bonitas, guapos, inteligente, and so on.

There is no translation of the "lo" in this case. But you can explain the meaning this way. "¿Es bonita la muchacha?" (Is the girl pretty?). "Sí, lo es" (Yes, she is [es] that or that quality [lo, substituting for bonita]).

The other question relates to syntax, the order in which words combine to generate meaning. In questions and assertions alike, Spanish shows more flexibility than English.

Syntax in the English equivalent of this question is inflexible, non-negotiable, iron-clad: "Is the girl pretty?" The two Spanish sentences, differing in word order, may show a difference in meaning--really, in emphasis--but this is not absolute and can vary according to context.

"Es bonita," that order, lacking other information, implies as its context a continuing conversation about the "muchacha" in which the speaker asks whether her being "pretty" constitutes her chief, defining, or identifying trait. "Es la muchacha," that order, implies a conversation about the "muchacha" in which the speaker asks whether her being pretty is one of her traits (perhaps one among many), but not a defining trait.

  • Being a "neuter pronoun" is not function, but morphology. - lazarus1907 May 10, 2011 flag
2 Vote

And you always use the neuter pronoun (same as the masculine one) for any quality, regardless of whether the adjective denoting that quality is masculine, feminine, singular or plural: bonita, bonitas, guapos, inteligente, and so on.

Not really. You are making this rule up. "Lo" is compulsory with the verbs stated above, regardless of what it represents. You wrote that it has to be a quality, but I have the impression that you've just induced that "rule" from the original sentence (and probably from my examples, where all the attributes were adjectives). Look:

¿Es un gato? Sí, lo es. (Is it a cat? Yes, it is)

Surely a "cat" is not a quality, is it? It doesn't matter whether the word that follows the verb "ser" (yes, this is the key of this particular "lo") is a noun or an adverb, because it will be "lo" regardless.

I agree with what you wrote about emphasis, though.

2 Vote

Could it be: ¿Es la muchacha bonita? and what is the difference between these two question?

Yes, it could be. The difference is that whichever word comes first, takes the focus of the sentence, as if all the other elements are secundary.

However, context is very important here because "¿Es la muchacha bonita?" could also be asking "Is it the pretty girl?" (Which of the many girls is it, the pretty one?)

1 Vote

"Es bonita la muchacha?" means "Is the girl pretty?" Though I think it should be written as "Es la muchacha bonita?"

"No, no lo es" is completely incorrect. It should be "No, no es" or "No, ella no es."

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