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My question concerns the sentence: No entiendo lo que quiere decir. Why is it not: No lo entiendo que quiere decir? Somehow I think the answer must be obvious -- I just don't see it!

For learning: Spanish
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    It is relatively simple: "entiendo" requires just ONE complement, and CANNOT take TWO. You may satisfy that requirement in various ways: If the previous context suffices for the hearer to guess what you refer to, you can afford to say just "No LO entiendo", where "lo" refers back to something already discussed. Otherwise, you must specify what you do not understand. In your example you may choose between "No entiendo qué quiere decir" (where the complement is an indirect question - note the stressed "qué") and "No entiendo lo que quiere decir" (where the complement is a 'free relative' clause, with unstressed "que"). In English, the latter would literally correspond to "*I do not understand IT+that he/she/it/you mean(s)", which English does not allow: "it+[relative] that" are obligatorily 'fused' into "what". As a result, the only possible English version is "I do not understand what you/he/she/it means", where "what" is NOT stressed. Note that English "understand" cannot take TWO complements either: "*I do not understand IT + what he/she/it means" is bad because it has a complement too many. Similarly, Spanish "*No lo entiendo que quiere decir" or even "*No lo entiendo qué quiere decir" are ungrammatical because both also have a complement too many. What you could do is this: Spanish = "No lo entiendo. ¿Qué quiere decir?" / English = "I do not understand it. What do(es) it/he/she/you mean?" That way, "lo"/"it" still refer (but forward!) to [something in] "Qué quiere decir?"/"What do[es] it... mean?", respectively, but "entiendo"/"understand" have just ONE complement each, as they should.

     

    Without: "que quiere decir" it is: No lo entiendo! (Lo refers to the thing he said and you didn't understand)
    No entiendo lo que quiere decir is the right syntax in this sentence. so, the "lo" always comes in front of the "que", if there is any.
    No quiero comer lo que el cocina.
    No lo quiero comer.
    No digo lo que el dice.
    No lo digo.
    Yo tomo lo que tu tomas.
    Lo tomo.
    Sorry, I can't explain it with the right grammatical vocabulary, my english is just not good enough. :)

    Right: "No lo entiendo" means "I don't understand it", while "No entiendo lo que quiere decir" means "I don't understand what does it mean". So, as you see also in English both meanings are quite similar but slightly different.

    Spanish works as English, you can always ask yourself. For instance. "I don't understand what does it mean": "what don't you understand?" "what does it mean"....And "I don't understand it": What don't you understand? "It" so "lo" means in " No lo entiendo " "it" and "lo" means "what does it mean" in "No entiendo lo que quiere decir".

    If you write "No entiendo lo" will be as if you'd write "I don't understand what", I mean, the phrase is not complete and you need to give extra information to it.
    The phrase is actually like this "No entiendo lo que (eso) quiere decir" (I don't understand what does it mean).

    *In Spanish we can avoid to put the subject if its understood by the verb.

    Entiendo refers to "Yo" (I) the subject of the phrase while quiere (wants) refers to "eso" (it).

    This is pure grammar but that's what it is:

    1.No lo entiendo: Subject YO (I), Predicative NO LO ENTIENDO (don't understand it): verb ENTIENDO (understand) and Direct Complement of the action LO (it) ---translate LO for YOUR OPINION , for instance, maybe easier to understand.

    2.No entiendo lo que quiere decir" (I don't understand what does it mean). Subject YO (I), Predicative ENTIENDO LO QUE QUIERE DECIR (don't understand what does it mean: verb ENTIENDO (understand) and Direct Complement of the action LO QUE QUIERE DECIR what does it mean). QUE is a link between 2 phrases because "what does it mean-QUIERE DECIR" is another phrase that is the Direct Complement of the Main phrase "I don't understand-NO ENTIENDO", so now you analyze the second one: LO QUE QUIERE DECIR: QUE is a link between phrases.LO QUIERE DECIR is predicative and IT (ESO) is subject (we understand is that one because the verb QUIERE- el/eso/ella/ello quiere), then what does it want? to say it (DECIR LO) that is the Direct Object of that phrase and also this one is another phrase whose verb is DECIR (to say) and Direct Complement LO (that).

    This one is the full explanation, but, as I said to you at the beginning, better ask yourself because the phrase gives you the answer itself.



    Apart of that I found this web that can be useful to you:
    http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/iodopro.htm

    "Lo" is a neutral article is like when you add "It" to a word for example:
    I knew it= Lo sabía
    I saw it = Lo vi
    I undestand = entiendo
    I understand it = Lo entiendo
    I see it= Lo veo
    I'm seeing it= Lo estoy viendo

    See in spanish the pronoum is not always the main important because for the conjugation you might who is talking.

    Now other version according to Rae.es

    LO . pron. Seguido de un posesivo o de un nombre introducido por la preposición de, señala la propiedad de quien se indica. Lo mío. Lo de Pérez.

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