Lo, in addition to being a neutral article (check out part one of our series on lo), also works as a direct object pronoun and it can also replace attributes or concepts. Let’s take a closer look at each of the uses of lo as a pronoun.
When the direct object is a masculine singular noun.
When we want to replace an idea or statement.
When you want to refer to attributes or characteristics expressed with linking verbs such as ser, parecer, estar.
When replacing neutral pronouns such as esto, eso, aquello, todo.
Note: The following rules also apply for all of the direct and indirect object pronouns, as well as for the reflexive pronouns.
Lo should always be placed right after the verb in the following situations:
When simple forms of the gerund or infinitive are being used.
When there is an impersonal sentence or an impersonal verbal periphrasis.
When the verb is after a preposition.
When we use a compound tense, lo goes after "haber" if this auxiliary verb is not conjugated.
The pronoun may be prefixed or postponed when it is part of a verbal periphrasis.
The pronoun must always appear before a verb conjugated in a personal form and which isn’t a part of a verbal periphrasis.
If the direct object appears before the verb, we must duplicate the direct object by using the pronoun.
The direct object is “tu hermano”, since it appears before the verb, we need the pronoun that corresponds to "it" which is lo.
No need to use the direct object pronoun since the direct object appears explicitly after the verb.
Let's see another example with both options:
When we use the indefinite "todo" after the verb, it is possible to use lo before the verb to make a more emphatic phrase, although it’s not necessary:
This redundancy doesn't happen with the opposite word "nada", so avoid using lo with this word.
When the object of the phrase is the indefinite "uno", the use of lo before the verb is mandatory.
With the verb "saber" it is possible to use lo when referring to an idea previously said. It is important to recognize that this previous idea has no gender or number, they’re usually actions or interrogative pronouns.This usually happens when we are giving an answer.
The use of lo in these sentences is optional, although using it sounds more emphatic.
When the previous idea refers to an area of knowledge or a skill, then it is not correct to use lo in the answer.
This is how you use lo as a pronoun. If you want to know how to use it as an article, go to our post “What does “lo” mean in Spanish? (part 1)”. If you want to practice what you learned in this class, check out our exercises!