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Todos los Significados (All the Meanings) of the Word Todo in Spanish

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!

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What Part of Speech is the Word Todo in Spanish?

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. 

 

Todo as an Adjective

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 Barcelona

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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 2

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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 cena

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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 actividades

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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 Rosana

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An alternative translation could, of course, be: "Happy afternoon, Yabla friends from all the countries in the world."

 

Todo as a Pronoun

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: 

 

¿Cuá​nta torta comiste? -Me la comí toda.

How much cake did you eat? -I ate it all

But:

 

¿Cuá​ntos 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 1

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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 2

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The plural todos, on the other hand, means "everybody" or "everyone":

 

porque es información nueva para todos.

because it's new information for everyone.

Caption 60, Clase Aula Azul Información con subjuntivo e indicativo - Part 4

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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 17

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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. 

 

Todo as an Adverb

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 5

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Todo as a Noun

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. 

 

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Top Ten Common Spanish Expressions with Forms of the WordTodo

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.

 

1Todo el mundo

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 1

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2. Todo el día

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 2

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3. Todos los días

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.

Caption 11, Guillermina y Candelario Una aventura extrema - Part 2

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4. Sobre todo

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 3

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5. En todo caso 

Even though the literal meaning of en todo caso is "in all case," it is the Spanish equivalent of the English expression "in any case":
 

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 sociales

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6. Por todos lados 

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 10

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7. De todas formas

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.

Caption 7, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 1 - Part 8

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The similar Spanish expressions de todas maneras and de todos modos also mean "anyway," "anyhow," or "in any case." 

 

8. De todo

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 6

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9. Del todo

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.

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For additional examples of this expression and more, we recommend the lesson En absoluto, de ninguna manera, del todo.

 

10. Todo recto

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?

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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 Navidad

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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.

 

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Is Agua Masculine or Feminine?

Let's talk about gender. If you have been studying Spanish, you probably know that nouns in Spanish have a gender. For example, the word libro (book) is a masculine noun. On the contrary, the noun pelota (ball) is feminine. If you want to use those nouns with their corresponding definite articles, you will say el libro (the book) and la pelota (the ball). Now, what about the noun agua (water)? Is agua masculine or feminine? Do you say el agua or la agua?

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Let's take a look at some clips:

 

Cuando uno tiene sed

When one is thirsty

Pero el agua no está cerca

But the water's not close by

Captions 17-18, Jarabe de Palo - Agua

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Y como para completar la historia, desperdiciaban el agua todo el tiempo.

And, as if to make matters worse, they wasted water all the time.

Caption 15, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada

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Y apenas sus pies tocaron el agua,

And as soon as their feet touched the water,

se convirtieron en dos grandes serpientes.

they turned into two big snakes.

Captions 51-52, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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Can you now answer our question? According to the above clips, is agua masculine or feminine? In all the previous clips, the word agua is placed right after the masculine definite article "el" so the noun agua must be masculine, right? Not so fast! Let's take a look at the following clips:

 

Limonadas, refrescos o simplemente agua fresca.

Lemonades, sodas or just cold water.

Caption 42, Aprendiendo con Karen - Utensilios de cocina

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Las formas de presentación incluyen el agua ozonizada y el aceite ozonizado.

The formulations include ozonized water and ozonized oil.

Caption 35, Los médicos explican - Beneficios del ozono

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Un día, los vientos del páramo agitaron las aguas de la laguna.

One day, the winds from the tundra shook up the waters of the lake.

Caption 26, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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Did you see that? If you look at the first two clips, you can see that the adjectives that go after the noun agua are feminine adjectives that end with the vowel "a" (fresca and ionizada). Also, in the third clip, you can see that the term aguas (plural form of agua) is preceded by the feminine definite article "las". So, is agua masculine or feminine?

 

The answer is very simple: the noun agua is always feminine. However, if you are wondering why we say "el agua" and not "la agua" there is a simple rule you need to keep in mind: If a feminine noun starts with a stressed "a", you need to use the masculine definite article "el". Let's see more feminine nouns that start with a stressed "a":

 

el águila (the eagle)

el alma (the soul)

 

Nevertheless, it is important to say that for plural feminine nouns, you need to use the plural feminine definitive article "las":

 

las aguas (the waters)

las águilas (the eagles)

las almas (the souls)

 

Finally, keep in mind that if the noun is feminine the adjective needs to be feminine too. For example, let's say that we want to say "the water is dirty." Since water is feminine in Spanish, you need to use the feminine version of the adjective (sucia):

 

RIGHT - El agua está sucia

WRONG - El agua está sucio

 

So, there you have it. We hope you learned something useful today and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions.

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¡Hasta la próxima!

A mano

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions in Spanish that use body parts. This lesson focuses on the word mano (hand).
 

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The expressions echar una mano (to throw a hand) or dar una mano (to give a hand) mean "to help." Frequently, people use this expression with negation in the interrogative form: ¿no me echas una mano? or ¿no me das una mano? are common ways to ask for help in Spanish:

 

¿No me das una manita con Pablo?

Won't you give me a little hand with Pablo?

Caption 44, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 4

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See? You can even throw in a diminutive like manita (little hand)! Native Spanish speakers use diminutives a lot, so you can use this truquito (little trick) to make your Spanish sound more natural.
 
Now, dar una mano (to give a hand, to help) is different from dar la mano (literally, "to give the hand"), which means "to shake hands" or "to hold hands." Usually the verb dar (to give) is used with a pronoun in these expressions. So you can say: le doy la mano (I shake his/her/your hand), nos damos la mano (we shake hands, we shake each other's hands). In other cases the pronoun can be added to the verb dar as a suffix, for example: ¡dame la mano! (shake my hand!), or:

 

En ocasiones más formales también podemos darnos la mano.

For more formal occasions, we can also shake each other's hands.

Captions 11-12, Raquel Presentaciones

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Slightly different is tomar la mano de alguien (to take somebody's hand):

 

Bachué se despidió llorando y tomó la mano de su esposo.

Bachué said goodbye crying and took her husband's hand.

Caption 49, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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If you add the preposition de (by) you get the expression de la mano (by the hand, holdings hands). Tomar de la mano is "to hold by the hand," estar de la mano is "to be holding hands," cruzar la calle de la mano de tu mamá means "to cross the street holding your mom's hand," and caminar de la mano con tu novia means "to walk with your girlfriend holding hands". Here's one more example:

 

Un helado, un paseo, tomados de la mano

An ice cream, a stroll, holding hands

Caption 4, Alberto Jiménez - Causalidad - Part 2

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On the other hand, estar a mano (literally, “to be at hand") means "to be even:"
 

Estaríamos a mano. ¿Eh?

We would be even. Huh?

Caption 30, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6

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The expression hecho a mano means "made by hand." And the phrase a mano can either mean "by hand":
 

Los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo, se cogen a mano.

The ones that can be picked by hand from below are picked by hand.

Captions 88-89, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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or "at hand," which can also be spelled a la mano:

 

 Ponte lo que tengas a [la] mano.
Wear whatever you have at hand.

 
To do something mano a mano (hand in hand) means to do something together:
 

Los investigadores trabajan con los pescadores mano a mano.
The researchers work with the fishermen hand in hand.

 
In Mexico, Dominican Republic, and other Spanish speaking countries, people use mano to shorten hermano/a (brother, sister), just like “bro” and “sis” in English. For example: No, mano, así no se hace (No, bro, that's not how you do it), Oye, mana, vámonos a casa (Hey, sis, let's go home).

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And that's all for this lesson! Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

Some Expressions

Let's learn some useful Spanish expressions.
 
The expression total, para qué ( literally "total, what for") is used to express hopelessness if you think that something is likely to fail or is unpromising. The phrase is equivalent to the English expression "So, what's the use," as you can see in the following example:
 
¡Ay! Total para qué... ¡Ya olvídalo!
Oh! So what's the use... Forget it already!

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Another interesting expression is tener en cuenta (to keep into account, to keep in mind):

Intentaré hacer todo lo que me has dicho y tener en cuenta tus recomendaciones.

I will try to do everything that you have told me and keep in mind your recommendations.

Captions 56-57, El Aula Azul - La Doctora Consejos - Subjuntivo y condicional

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Here's another example using teniendo (having, keeping) in a more formal context:
 

Teniendo en cuenta lo anterior, quisiera compartir con ustedes el siguiente mito muisca

Taking into account the foregoing, I would like to share with you the following Muisca myth

Captions 19-20, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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On the contrary, the expression hacer de cuenta, means "to pretend":
 

Entonces, haz de cuenta están hablando ellos...

So, pretend they are talking...

Caption 16, Amigos D.F. - Consejos para la calle

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As you can see, this expression is frequently used in the imperative mode:
 

Pero hagamos de cuenta que es profundísimo.

But let's pretend that it is very deep.

Caption 33, Salvando el planeta Palabra - Llegada - Part 8

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Expressions

Papel: It's a Role

El papel principal del gobierno es promover el desarrollo... y mejorar el nivel de vida.

The main role of the government is to promote development... and improve the standard of living.

Captions 21-22, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 3

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Most of us know that papel is "paper," not only do they sound alike but if you've ever taken Spanish class no doubt your teacher has often asked you to take out una hoja de papel, "a sheet of paper."

However, papel is also "role" (as in "the role of technology in education"). So, in the phrase above we have:

"The main role of the government is to promote development..."

 

El papel de la ONG ha sido un papel auxiliador.

The role of NGO has been an assisting role.

Caption 29, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje - Part 3

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Note: Organización No Gubernamental (ONG), Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)

 

In this final clip we have Carlos explaining some of the functions that the myth of Bachué played in Muisca society.

 

Que además resalta el papel que la mujer tenía en la sociedad muisca

Which also highlights the role that women had in Muisca society

como la encargada de transmitir las tradiciones y valores de la cultura.

as the ones in charge of transmitting traditions and cultural values.

Captions 57-59, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

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Vocabulary

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