At the end of the last article I gave you a short paragraph to translate. I have to admit the contents are a bit weird, but it does give us examples of almost all the adjective forms we were talking about. Here it is again, with my translation below. Notice there is often more than one way to translate something, so I’ve given you some alternatives in brackets.

Los dos hijos, el guapo y el feo, van a visitar a su familia este verano. Lo triste es que el guapo es más popular que el feo, aunque el feo es mucho más simpático y es el más generoso de toda la familia. Lo más curioso de todo es que el guapo tiene muchos más amigos que el feo, pero el feo es el más feliz.

The two sons, (or both sons), the handsome one and the ugly one, are going to visit their family this summer. The sad thing is that the handsome one is more popular than the ugly one, although the ugly one is much nicer and is the most generous one (or member) of the whole family. The strangest (or most curious) thing of all is that the handsome one has a lot more friends (or many more friends) than the ugly one, but the ugly one is the happier (of the two).

Now for something completely different!
We looked briefly at the word ‘lo’ last month and saw that it can mean ‘the’. However ‘lo’ is really quite a pesky word with all sorts of meanings depending on how it’s used. We are going to look at it and what it means when it’s tacked onto the end of a verb.

First of all we have to think back a few lessons to when we were looking at verbs in their infinitive forms. For example, we had sentences like ‘quiero beber’ (I want to drink) or ‘necesito limpiar’ (I need to clean) and ‘puedo ver’ (I can see). We saw that ‘quiero’, ‘necesito’ and ‘puedo’ were verbs in a particular form expressing ‘I’, or the ‘first person’, and that ‘beber’, ‘limpiar’ and ‘ver’ are what we call infinitive forms of verbs. We then saw that we can add other words to these sentences. For example ‘quiero beber el café’, (I want to drink the coffee); ‘necesito limpiar el coche’, (I need to clean the car); ‘puedo ver el edificio’ (I can see the building).

In grammar terms, the words ‘café’, ‘coche’ and ‘edificio’ used in this way are called objects because they receive the action of the verb.

Now as you listen and look around you, you may have come across words from time to time like this: ‘beberlo’, ‘limpiarlo’, ‘verlo’. Well, these words are compounds – they consist of verbs in the infinitive form and the word ‘lo’, which here means ‘it’.

We can now see that ‘quiero beberlo’ means ‘I want to drink it’; ‘necesito limpiarlo’ means ‘I need to clean it’ and ‘puedo verlo’ means ‘I can see it’. In other words, ‘lo’ is replacing the objects (coffee, car and building) in receiving the action of the verb.

As I said at the beginning, this is only one use of ‘lo’. There are also occasions similar to those above where it can mean ‘him’. In grammar terms though, this would still be referred to as the direct object pronoun.

One last comment about compound words like ‘beberlo’ is that you will not find them in the dictionary! That is why we need to have some understanding of the way words can be transformed, so that we can then understand which basic forms we can find in the dictionary and which altered forms we can’t!

Well, I think I’ve run out of space now, so tune in next month for the next exciting episode.

Jane Cronin’s “Step by Step Spanish” articles are now available as e-books at where you can also obtain Jane’s brand new “Step by Step Internet Spanish” course.