In this lesson, we're going to look at todos los usos y significados (all of the uses and meanings) of the word todo in Spanish. Well, maybe not all of them... but a lot!
Primero que todo (first of all), we'd like to say that the Spanish word todo and its feminine and plural equivalents have many meanings including "all," "whole," "every," "each," "everyone," and more, depending upon the context in which they are utilized. Actually, while todo and its alternate forms most commonly function as an adjective or a pronoun, they can also function as an adverb or even a noun. Let's examine how this word works in each of these cases, its various translations into English, and several idiomatic expressions that employ it.
Let's recall that an adjective modifies, or describes, a noun. When the word todo functions as an adjective, it must agree in number and gender with the noun it modifies. We must thus choose between its masculine singular (todo), masculine plural (todos), feminine singular (toda) or feminine plural (todas) forms, placing it either directly in front of either a noun, a noun's direct article, or a possessive adjective. Let's look at some examples:
No, en España, el español se parece mucho en todo el país.
No, in Spain, Spanish is a lot alike in the whole country.
Captions 5-6, Carlos y Xavi Part 4 Tradiciones y comida de BarcelonaPlay Caption
Although the literal translation of todo el país would be "all the country," common ways to say todo el in English include "the whole" or "the entire." Thus, an alternative translation for this sentence might be: "No, in Spain, Spanish is a lot alike in the entire country." Let's look at an additional example:
La asistente le dará una tarjeta con toda la información
The assistant will give you a card with all the information
Caption 42, Cita médica La cita médica de Cleer - Part 2Play Caption
Note that in this example, the feminine singular form toda has the more straightforward translation "all." Let's move on to some plural examples:
Invitamos a todos sus amigos al karaoke
We invite all her friends to karaoke
Caption 44, Blanca y Mariona Planificación de cenaPlay Caption
Note that while, in the sentence above, the plural form is translated to "all," in other cases, it can be translated as "every":
Salimos todas las noches.
We go out every night.
Caption 20, Clara y Cristina Hablan de actividadesPlay Caption
In other cases, either translation could suffice:
Feliz tarde, amigos de Yabla de todos los países del mundo.
Happy afternoon, Yabla friends from every country in the world.
Caption 2, Adícora, Venezuela El tatuaje de RosanaPlay Caption
An alternative translation could, of course, be: "Happy afternoon, Yabla friends from all the countries in the world."
The definition of a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Hence, when the word todo is used a pronoun in Spanish, it must match the number/gender of the noun to which it refers. Let's look at a simple example:
¿Cuánta torta comiste? -Me la comí toda.
How much cake did you eat? -I ate it all.
¿Cuántos caramelos comiste? -Todos.
How much candies did you eat? -All of them.
Let's take a look at an example from the Yabla video library where todas replaces a plural feminine noun (las estaciones/the seasons):
Creo que es la mejor estación de todas.
I think that it's the best season of all.
Caption 22, Clara explica El tiempo - Part 1Play Caption
Todo on its own is also the equivalent of the English word "everything":
Sí, Lucio me cuenta todo.
Yes, Lucio tells me everything.
Caption 30, Yago 12 Fianza - Part 2Play Caption
The plural todos, on the other hand, means "everybody" or "everyone":
porque es información nueva para todos.
because it's new information for everyone.Play Caption
In fact, the title of a recent Yabla video, Todo es de todos (Everything Belongs to Everyone) employs both of those terms. However, note the difference in translation for todos in the following example:
¿De ahí saldrá el aguacate que todos conocemos? -Claro.
The avocado that we all know will come from there? -Sure.
Caption 57, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 17Play Caption
Although "The avocado that everyone knows will come from there?" could be a viable translation, the fact that the verb conocer (to know) has been translated in the first person plural (nosotros/"we") form makes "we all" a legitimate (and perhaps more explanatory) translation.
When todo functions as an adverb, it is typically used to make emphatic statements. Possible translations include "really," "completely," "all," or "totally." For example, one might say: El chico se veía todo lindo (The guy looked really good) or Mi habitación está toda desordenada (My room is totally messy). Let's look at an example from the Yabla video library:
¡Yo te vi, yo te vi toda llena de barro!
I saw you! I saw you all covered in mud!
Caption 41, Yago 3 La foto - Part 5Play Caption
As a noun, el todo means "the whole" and can be seen in the translation for Aristotle's famous sentence:
El todo es más que la suma de las partes.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
And speaking of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, let's examine some common Spanish idioms that include forms of the word todo with meanings beyond their literal words.
While todo el mundo literally means "all the world" or "the whole/entire world," this phrase is an extremely common way of expressing the idea of "everybody" or "everyone" in Spanish:
Todo el mundo puede tocar el tambor donde, cuando y como quiera- mayores, niños, mujeres,
Everybody can play the drum wherever, whenever, and however they want- older people, children, women,
Captions 47-49, Viernes Santo en Tobarra ¡La Cuna del Tambor! - Part 1Play Caption
Literally "all the day," the notion of "all day" is encompassed by the Spanish expression todo el día:
¿Todo el día? El tiempo que quieras.
All day? As long as you want.
Captions 103-104, Alan x el mundo Mi playa favorita de México! - Part 2Play Caption
The plural form todos los días ("all the days"), on the other hand, means "every day":
Además, la vemos todos los días.
Besides, we see it every day.Play Caption
Like it sounds, the Spanish phrase sobre todo can indeed mean "above all" or "above everything." Additional, frequent translations include "mostly," "mainly," and "especially":
Primero, sobre todo si es tu primera tarjeta de crédito, eh... es recomendable que el... que el límite no sea mayor a tus ingresos.
First, especially if it is your first credit card, um... it is recommendable for the... for the limit not to be greater than your income.
Captions 51-52, Cuentas claras Sobreviviendo enero - Part 3Play Caption
En todo caso, espero que a partir de hoy, se sientan más cómodos usando las redes sociales en español.
In any case, I hope that starting from today, you feel more comfortable using social networks in Spanish.
Captions 53-54, Carlos explica Internet y lenguaje digital: Redes socialesPlay Caption
Por todos lados might seem to mean "around all sides," but it really means "everywhere":
Mili, ¿Dónde estabas? Te estuve buscando por todos lados.
Mili, where were you? I was looking for you everywhere.
Caption 16, Muñeca Brava 45 El secreto - Part 10Play Caption
De todas formas in Spanish means not "of all shapes," but is rather a manner of saying "anyway":
Bueno, de todas formas, mire, el tipo se está haciendo pasar por Pierre Bernard.
Well, anyway, look, the guy is posing as Pierre Bernard.Play Caption
The similar Spanish expressions de todas maneras and de todos modos also mean "anyway," "anyhow," or "in any case."
The phrase de todo ("of everything") is another way to say "everything" in Spanish:
Aquí tiene de todo, perro, oveja...
Here, they have everything: [a] dog, sheep...
Caption 1, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 6Play Caption
Del todo ("of the whole"), on the other hand, means "completely" or "entirely"':
Quizás l'... la relación más equilibrada que yo he buscado no ha pasado del todo y ahora me siento un poquito sola
Maybe th'... the more balanced relationship that I've looked for hasn't completely happened, and now I feel a little bit lonely
Captions 19-20, El reencuentro Las amigas hablan del trabajo y el amor.Play Caption
For additional examples of this expression and more, we recommend the lesson En absoluto, de ninguna manera, del todo.
And finally, if you want to tell someone to go "straight ahead," todo recto (literally "all straight") is the way to go in Spanish:
Tiene que ir todo recto. -Sí.
You have to go straight ahead. -Yes.
Caption 17, Curso de español ¿Hay una escuela por aquí?Play Caption
These are just a smattering of the many Spanish expressions that incorporate forms of todo that can be heard in everyday Spanish. ¡Sería imposible nombrarlos todos (It would be imposible to name them all)! That said:
Eso es todo por hoy, amigos.
That's all for today, friends.
Caption 56, Ana Carolina Símbolos de NavidadPlay Caption
For additional information on expressions that include the Spanish word todo, we recommend the additional lesson When Nada (Nothing) is Todo (Everything). In the meantime, gracias por todo (thanks for everything), and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.