Spanish neuter article «Lo»

The Spanish neuter article «lo» is much less frequent than the masculine and feminine forms («el», «la»). However, it has a couple of relevant uses we need to study. 

«Lo» meaning «the thing» or «the things»

The article «lo» serves as a substitute for «la cosa» (the thing) or «las cosas» (the things). It makes the sentences shorter and more efficient:

La cosa importante es estudiar mucho → Lo importante es estudiar mucho.

Both sentences mean «The important thing is to study a lot».

La cosa más bonita es el centro de la ciudad → Lo más bonito es el centro de la ciudad.

Both mean «The most beautiful thing is the city center».

No entiendo las cosas que dices → No entiendo lo que dices.

«I don’t understand what you say (the things you say)».

La cosa que quiero es jugar → Lo que quiero es jugar.

What I want (the thing I want) is to play. 

«Lo» meaning «how» to emphasize

We can use «lo» before and adjective or and adverb in sentences that emphasize a quality, meaning «how»:

Es increíble lo inteligente que eres = It’s incredible how intelligent you are.

Me gusta lo despacio que hablas = I like how slow you talk. 

Be careful about this use: when the English sentence is an exclamation beginning with «how», then we use just «qué»:

¡Qué inteligente eres! = How intelligent you are!

¡Qué despacio hablas! = How slow you talk!

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