HomeQ&ACalling Mr (or Ms) Grammar (de Español)

Calling Mr (or Ms) Grammar (de Español)

6
votes

A practice sentence in a grammar book has me wondering:

"¿Le dijiste a Juan lo de Armando por teléfono?"

I'm thinking it breaks down like this:

Le ("to Juan") dijiste ("you told") a Juan ("to Juan") lo ("it") de Armando ("about Armando") por teléfono (by telephone), or

"Did you tell Juan about Armando by telephone?"

What throws me is the "lo". It looks like it should follow the "le", which would change the combination to "se lo". I guess the position of "lo" is optional. Am I right?

2302 views
updated JUL 3, 2010
posted by wgschultz

7 Answers

8
votes

"Lo de" is a phrase meaning "about", "the thing about", "the matter of" etc. Here it is a neuter article.

Lo de María me molesta. - The thing about María bothers me. Oí lo de tu carro. - I heard about your car.

Lo cannot be a pronoun unless it is attached to a verb or infront of a verb.

You can put the pronoun Lo like this: Se lo voy a decir. Voy a decírselo.

updated JUL 3, 2010
edited by 003487d6
posted by 003487d6
Great answer Dandi...I am moving too slow today :) - Izanoni1, JUN 26, 2010
"Lo cannot be a pronoun unless it is attached to a verb or in front of a verb"--Thanks for reinforcing that. - wgschultz, JUN 26, 2010
:) - 003487d6, JUN 26, 2010
Thanks, dandi :-) - Dee914, JUN 27, 2010
I see it now! - webdunce, JUL 3, 2010
4
votes

It might sound confusing, but the word "lo" here is a "neuter article." The formula that is being used here (which is a very common formula) is

lo de + noun (or "lo + adjectival phrase introduced by 'de'")

Roughly translated this can be interpreted as

The thing about noun

So your sentence could be as you had put it or

Did you tell Juan that thing about Armando on the phone?

Did you tell Juan that business about Armando over the phone?

Here are a couple of references that you might find helpful:

lo de (look on page 51 or do a book search for "lo de")

more lo de

updated JUN 27, 2010
edited by Izanoni1
posted by Izanoni1
Thanks for the reference. - wgschultz, JUN 26, 2010
:) - Izanoni1, JUN 26, 2010
2
votes

...para muchos lingüistas se trata, en cambio, de un pronombre

Man, I'm gonna have to come down on the side of the "muchos lingüistas" because it hurts my head to think of it as an article in a "lo que" or "lo de" phrase.

I'm not saying this is grammar gospel (because RAE disagrees...but they leave me some wiggle room with that last phrase don't they?), but -- correct or not -- it helps me to conceive LO as an pronoun in these cases. However, because it is part of a phrase, I allow it to move around (unlike when LO is by itself, in which case it usually has to be on the left side of the verb).

I do, in fact, view ¿Le dijiste a Juan lo de Armando por teléfono? as To him you told to Juan it about Armando by telephone?

To round it out in English I'd say Did you tell Juan that stuff about Armando on the phone? (Where lo = "that stuff")

My mind conceives it better this way. To me LO means "it," "that thing," or "that stuff" or whatever...but it is something about Armando...not just about Armando in general. LO is referring to some situation, some gossip, some fact...something. Otherwise, the sentence would be simply ¿Le dijiste a Juan de Armando? (no LO), which would be Did you tell Juan about Armando?"

Did you tell Juan the of Armando?

NO! My brain can't deal with the of. I'll not have it! ¡Los que sean como así no soportaré!

Right or wrong, that's my 2 cents. grin

updated JUL 3, 2010
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
I now disagree with this post. See my other post in this thread. - webdunce, JUL 3, 2010
I still translate lo que and lo de into English as "the thing that..." and "the thing about...", it's just that I now view the Spanish itself differently than before. - webdunce, JUL 3, 2010
1
vote

" what they really feel like they are saying" EXACTLY! Now we're getting into an area that really interests me. When I decided to try to learn Spanish about a year ago I thought it would be simply a matter of learning the vocabulary and then putting sentences together. (Big mistake.) The only sentences I know how to put together easily are English ones, and I see now that they don't work very well in Spanish. Language describes our reality and maybe even IS our reality. I think Spanish sentence structure, word order, noun gender, in a way is an alternate reality compared to English, and it would take many years of intimate contact to even begin to understand it.

updated JUN 27, 2010
posted by wgschultz
0
votes

Earlier I said...

Man, I'm gonna have to come down on the side of the "muchos lingüistas" because it hurts my head to think of it as an article in a "lo que" or "lo de" phrase.

...and...

NO! My brain can't deal with the of. I'll not have it! ¡Los que sean como así no soportaré!

Well, rats!!! I see it now. Even in English we can say, the which. It's kind of fell out of use lately in America, but it used quite a bit in older English, and I never had a problem understanding it. It's quite common in the KJV of the Bible.

Jeremiah 19:3 And say, Hear ye the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah, and inhabitants of Jerusalem; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, the which whosoever heareth, his ears shall tingle.

With lo, one can't tell if it is an article or a pronoun just by looking at it. However, one can distinguish between el and él. I did a search for "él que" in the Nueva Versión Internacional and got no hits, whereas "el que" got plenty...proving -- to me, at least -- that these constructions are generally going to be of the pattern {article + que} not {pronoun + que}. That's not to say "él que" is impossible, just really rare, I guess. I see a few hits for "él que" in Google, but maybe that's spelling errors or gringos...or maybe it proves that you can use él que...it's just rare. I think it's safe to assume the same pattern goes for lo que and la que.

Anyway, I can see "the that" and "the of" now...and I think that explains the lack of emphasis I usually hear on the LO in LO QUE...because the Spanish mind is viewing it as an article...whereas I typically emphasize it because in my mind I view LO as "it" in such phrases. In English, when we say "the which" the emphasis falls on "which." But, it's going to be hard to break my mind out of the old way of viewing this. It made so much sense to my mind as "it that" and "it of."

Anyway, I now disagree with my previous post.

updated JUL 3, 2010
edited by webdunce
posted by webdunce
Well, I'm certainly glad you cleared THAT up, but--what the el--nobody's perfect. - wgschultz, JUL 3, 2010
0
votes

I really wonder how Spanish speakers conceptualize LO. What do they feel like they are saying when they say LO QUE or LO DE? I often wonder that about certain uses of SE as well. (Not what their grammar books say but rather what they really feel like they are saying.)

updated JUN 27, 2010
posted by webdunce
0
votes

"Lo cannot be a pronoun unless it is attached to a verb or in front of a verb"--Thanks for reinforcing that.

Interestingly (and this is just an aside), this is what the RAE (Diccionario panhispánico de dudas) mentions regarding this:

Por su parte, lo suele considerarse como artículo neutro por su capacidad de sustantivar adjetivos y determinadas oraciones de relativo: lo malo, lo que está mal; para muchos lingüistas se trata, en cambio, de un pronombre

This says that because of its ability to nominalize adjectives (lo malo) and 'defining' relative clauses (lo que está mal) many lo is often viewed as a neuter article; on the other hand, for many linguists, it is treated like a pronoun.

updated JUN 26, 2010
posted by Izanoni1
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