Using todo, toda, todos and todas to say all, every and the whole (indefinite adjectives)

Todo is a Adjetivo indefinido meaning all, every or the whole. It expresses an undefined quantity and is usually followed by a definite article or a possessive adjective.

Look at this table:

  Singular Plural
 Masculine todo todos
 Feminine toda todas
In Spanish these adjectives always agree with the noun they refer to.

Now let's see how to use this adjective!

1. Todo + [definite article/possesive adjective] + [masculine singular noun]

Todo el correo viaja por este canal.All the mail travels via this channel.

Todo mi país es bonito.My whole country is beautiful.

2. Toda + [definite article/possesive adjective] + [feminine singular noun]

Ha jugado al fútbol toda la mañana.He has played football all morning.

Toda mi casa está orientada al sur.My whole house faces south.

3. Todos + [definite article/possesive adjective] + [masculine plural noun]

Todos los estudiantes tienen derecho a aprender.All students have the right to learn.

¡Siempre pierdo todos mis vuelos!I always miss all my flights!

4. Todas + [definite article/possesive adjective] + [feminine plural noun]

Julián ha estado enfadado todas las vacaciones.Julián has been upset the whole holiday.

Todas mis hijas fueron a Italia de Erasmus.All my daughters went to Italy on the Erasmus programme.

Be careful! There are some time phrases where using todo/toda or todos/as changes the meaning:

  • He trabajado todo el día. (I have worked all day/the whole day.)
  • He trabajado todos los días(I have worked every day.)
  • Sandra bailó toda la noche(Sandra danced all night/the whole night.)
  • Sandra bailó todas las noches. (Sandra danced every night.)

Todo el mundo = Everyone/Everybody

Todo el mundo vino a mi fiesta.
Everyone came to my party.

Sometimes, we can find todo/toda directly in front of a common noun with no article. This is to add emphasis to the noun. For example:

El mundo ha perdido toda magia para mí.The world has lost all [its] magic for me.

Todo alcalde merece respeto.All mayors deserve respect.

Extra note about countries and cities

If we want to say "the whole of a country/city" we don't generally use the definite article, although there are some countries that often keep the article, for example:

Todo el Reino Unido (The whole of the United Kingdom)

Toda la India (The whole of India)

Toda la China (The whole of China)

Deciding whether you need to use todo or toda in front of a country is tricky; how do we know the gender of a country? 

There is a general rule for countries. If the name of a country ends with a NON-stressed -a, we use "toda":

Toda España.The whole of Spain.

Toda Venezuela.The whole of Venezuela.

If it ends in any other letter or a stressed -a, then we use "todo":

Todo Japón.The whole of Japan.

Todo Panamá.The whole of Panama.

For cities, this rule seems to be more flexible, so it is acceptable to use the masculine or the feminine form:

Todo Madrid. Toda Madrid.The whole of Madrid.

Todo Toledo. Toda Toledo.The whole of Toledo.

Todo Málaga. Toda Málaga.The whole of Málaga.

One reason why we may also use the feminine form is because we are talking about "la ciudad de..." and ciudad is a feminine noun so makes us think of the city as a feminine noun. 

See also Using todo to say everything or all (of it) (indefinite pronoun).

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Examples and resources

Todas mis hijas fueron a Italia de Erasmus.All my daughters went to Italy on the Erasmus programme.
Todo alcalde merece respeto.All mayors deserve respect.
Toda mi casa está orientada al sur.My whole house faces south.
Todo Panamá.The whole of Panama.
Julián ha estado enfadado todas las vacaciones.Julián has been upset the whole holiday.
El mundo ha perdido toda magia para mí.The world has lost all [its] magic for me.
Todos los estudiantes tienen derecho a aprender.All students have the right to learn.
Todo Japón.The whole of Japan.
Ha jugado al fútbol toda la mañana.He has played football all morning.
Todo Toledo. Toda Toledo.The whole of Toledo.
Toda Venezuela.The whole of Venezuela.
Todo el correo viaja por este canal.All the mail travels via this channel.
Todo Málaga. Toda Málaga.The whole of Málaga.
Toda España.The whole of Spain.
Todo mi país es bonito.My whole country is beautiful.
¡Siempre pierdo todos mis vuelos!I always miss all my flights!
Todo Madrid. Toda Madrid.The whole of Madrid.
Let me take a look at that...