The relative pronouns lo cual and lo que are very similar, yet their usage changes greatly according to the context.
Lo cual has a more limited usage than its counterpart as it only refers to something that has already been brought up before in the same sentence. Generally we can say that lo cual can be translated into which and lo que in what.
Mi perro ladra mucho, lo cual fastidia los vecinos. (my dog barts a lot, which annoys my neighbours).
Esto es exactamente lo que quería decir (This is exactly what I wanted to say).
However, their difference is not that simple.
Lo que a part from referring to something mentioned as lo cual, can be also used to refer to something new, that has never been mentioned before.
No puedo contarte lo que me acaba de decir, es confidencial. (I can’t tell you what he just told me, it’s confidential).
Contrarly to lo cual, lo que can be found at the beginning of a sentence.
Lo que más me fastidia de el, es su arrogancia. (What bothers me the most about him it’s his arrogance).
Lo cual and lo que can also be preceded by the proposition “por”.
When por is followed by lo cual, the sentence describes the reason of an action.
Which is why:
El piso estaba mojado, por lo cual me resbalé. (The floor was wet, which is why I fell).
While, when you find “por” followed by lo que, there can be different meanings.
Which is why:
Estaba enfadada con él, por lo que cuando regresó a casa no le hablé. (I was angry with him so when he came back home we didn’t talk).
Point of view:
Por lo que veo, ella nos apoya en esto. (As far as I can see, she supports us in this).
We hope we clarified all your doubts, see you next time!
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