They say it was a meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs

dcf203

New Member
English - UK
I have read some of the other threads about the differences in uses between "lo que" and "que", but I'm still confused about a specific example I have in a textbook:

"They say it was a meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago"
At first glance I thought this would be translated as:
"Dicen que fue un meteorito que causó la extinción de los dinosaurios hace 65 millones de años"

However, the answers in my textbook say that instead of que, you would use lo que, but I'm unsure as to why exactly. Is there a rule or a way to remember when to use both of them in contexts like this one?
Muchas gracias de antemano!
 
  • The cub

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    That "lo" refers to the meteor and it's mandatory. Think about it this way:
    It is said that it was a meteor the thing (=lo) that caused the extinction

    One more example:
    Fue un escape de gas lo que provocó la explosión
     

    S.V.

    Senior Member
    Español, México
    Generally, with this ser at the front (de relieve, enfática), Spanish often goes with the same word you'd use, in the 'normal' A is B order.

    La que ~ El que ~ Lo que ~ Quien causó eso fue... → Fue eso lo que causó / fue él quien causó...
    Los que ~ Las que ~ Quienes causaron eso fueron...

    So you can try changing the order to see if "that" changes (*That caused it was the meteorite → What caused it was...)

    With links like cuando, donde, como, you do hear que more frequently in speech ("que galicado": Fue en ese momento que... Es en este lugar que...). Same with prepositions (Fue con esa herramienta que... Fue de esta cosa que... instead of con la que, de la que).
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    "They say it was a meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago"
    At first glance I thought this would be translated as:
    "Dicen que fue un meteorito que causó la extinción de los dinosaurios hace 65 millones de años"

    However, the answers in my textbook say that instead of que, you would use lo que, but I'm unsure as to why exactly.

    To add to the above replies, I'll say that with just "que" above, that would be introducing a clause that described the meteorite, rather than one indicating that it was the meteorite that did this.

    Contrast the following:
    Dicen que era un hombre que llevaba un sombrero rojo.
    Dicen que era un hombre la que llevaba un sombrero rojo.

    The first is just a statement describing the man: They say it was a man wearing a red hat.
    The second tells us who it was that was wearing the hat: They say it was a man who was wearing a red hat (that is, not a woman).
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    To add to the above replies, I'll say that with just "que" above, that would be introducing a clause that described the meteorite, rather than one indicating that it was the meteorite that did this.

    Contrast the following:
    Dicen que era un hombre que llevaba un sombrero rojo.
    Dicen que era un hombre la el que llevaba un sombrero rojo.

    The first is just a statement describing the man: They say it was a man wearing a red hat.
    The second tells us who it was that was wearing the hat: They say it was a man who was wearing a red hat (that is, not a woman).
    :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
     

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    Thanks for the correction. I first wrote "el que," then thought that it should be "la que" to indicate "la persona que."

    I should always go with my initial intuition, because I usually overthink things.
     

    Agró

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Navarre
    Back to the original sentence(s):

    "They say it was a meteorite that caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago"

    "Dicen que fue un meteorito lo que :tick: causó la extinción de los dinosaurios hace 65 millones de años"

    I'd like to add that cleft sentences, when inverted, allow this:

    "What caused the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was a meteorite"

    which, in turn, is parallel to what we use in Spanish:

    "Lo que causó la extinción..."
     

    gvergara

    Senior Member
    Castellano (variedad chilensis)
    Hola:

    Efectivamente la opción aquí es lo que, pero no creo que se esté usando en referencia a el meteorito, sino que a un hecho, a "un" esto, y me da la impresión de que es este hecho el que justifica el uso de lo que. Para referirse a un sustantivo masculino, emplearíamos sin dudas el que. Finalmente, creo que en lenguaje descuidado podríamos emplear solamente que en la oración original, pero no da como para considerarla una respuesta correcta o al menos aconsejable.
     

    dcf203

    New Member
    English - UK
    To add to the above replies, I'll say that with just "que" above, that would be introducing a clause that described the meteorite, rather than one indicating that it was the meteorite that did this.

    Contrast the following:
    Dicen que era un hombre que llevaba un sombrero rojo.
    Dicen que era un hombre la que llevaba un sombrero rojo.

    The first is just a statement describing the man: They say it was a man wearing a red hat.
    The second tells us who it was that was wearing the hat: They say it was a man who was wearing a red hat (that is, not a woman).
    This example makes it really clear, thank you!!
     

    dcf203

    New Member
    English - UK
    Hola:

    Efectivamente la opción aquí es lo que, pero no creo que se esté usando en referencia a el meteorito, sino que a un hecho, a "un" esto, y me da la impresión de que es este hecho el que justifica el uso de lo que. Para referirse a un sustantivo masculino, emplearíamos sin dudas el que. Finalmente, creo que en lenguaje descuidado podríamos emplear solamente que en la oración original, pero no da como para considerarla una respuesta correcta o al menos aconsejable.
    En efecto, he entendido frases solamente con que, por eso dudaba. Muchas gracias por la explicación.
     
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