What does "lo" in "(no) lo es" refer to?




In this sentence, for example:

El dinero no lo es todo en la vida.

What does this "lo" refer to? Can it be omitted ("El dinero no es todo")?


En esta frase, por ejemplo:

El dinero no lo es todo en la vida.

¿A qué se refiere este "lo"? ¿Puede ser omitido ("El dinero no es todo")?


Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 566

Also: which is a more precise translation: "Money is not everything in life" or "Everything in life is not money"?krubo 2011-11-25T03:05:23.087

@hippietrail Are you thinking about "Ello" and "Esto"? Although "lo" can be the accusative versions of these, here I would say it refers to "todo" and is masculine. Unless you also consider "todo" neuter in some sense.dainichi 2012-06-04T05:59:30.817

@krubo Good question, I think it can be both. In the former case, "lo" in not mandatory, in the latter, it is.dainichi 2012-06-04T06:00:14.700

I'm not sure if the example is a correct sentence or if it comes under what's known as "loísmo". But this stuff confuses me at times too.

hippietrail 2011-11-23T17:14:42.647

1@hippietrail it's not loísmo.Diego Mijelshon 2011-11-23T17:20:09.893

Can you tell us where you took this from and possibly paste the piece of text where you read it?Alenanno 2011-11-23T18:24:31.010

I know I've read something about adding the direct object pronoun to emphasize or clarify what's being talked about, but I don't remember where...jrdioko 2011-11-23T20:03:02.623

"Lo" is a pretty tricky thing in Spanish. It doesn't have a direct counterpart in at least some of the other Romance languages. It's at least sometimes called the "neuter pronoun". If we get some more questions about it, and I bet we will, it will probably warrant a tag of its own.hippietrail 2011-11-23T21:31:38.627



Sorry, I don't speak English

Es una duplicación del complemento directo.

En español culto, cuando el complemento directo o indirecto se antepone al verbo y no es un pronombre, entonces es obligatorio añadir el pronombre átono también antepuesto al verbo.

La tarta la llevo yo. (yo llevo la tarta).

La tarta no la llevo yo. (yo no llevo la tarta)

A tu hermano lo vi en el cine (yo vi a tu hermano en el cine)

A tu hermano no lo vie en el cine (yo no vi a tu hermano en el cine)

A mi madre le he dicho que ... (yo he dicho a mi madre que ...)

A Pepito le han expulsado del colegio (ellos han expulsado a pepito del colegio)

El dinero lo consigue todo (todo se consigue con dinero)

El dinero no lo es todo (no todo es [se consigue con] dinero)


Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 1 124

Lo de "español culto" no lo digo yo, lo dice la RAE. A mi no me parece ningún cultismo tal duplicación del complemento pues lo he visto desde pequeño, pero la RAE lo dice así. Para verlo, pincha en el enlace que puso Jaime Soto sobre pronombres personales átonos. En el punto 5 dice esto: «En el español general culto la coaparición del pronombre átono y el complemento tónico responde a las pautas siguientes:» y la pauta reflejada en el punto 5.2 es la que yo resumí para estos foros y modifiqué los ejemplos para que fuera más evidente que eso es lo que ocurre con "el dinero no lo es todo"Nexus 2011-11-26T19:20:51.087

¡Nunca sabía que ese regla se usaba para complementos directos también! Qué interesante. (Opino también que las respuestas incluyendo algo de la RAE siempre ganan :))Kevin K. 2011-11-28T20:18:08.360

Actually I didn't know what español culto meant. It turns out I only knew the noun sense cult for culto but it also has an adjective sense cultured that is often used with lengua, lenguaje or the names of languages, such as español. So now I understand perfectly (-:hippietrail 2011-12-02T11:21:57.723

Aplicar "culto" a las diferentes variaciones de un idioma es una costumbre que se usaba en tiempos de Roma. En la Roma Republicana existían 2 latín diferentes, uno el "latín vulgar" que hablaban los romanos y era un lenguaje "vivo" (evolucionaba) y el "latín culto" que era el lenguaje con el que se escribía y era un idioma rígido y que apenas tuvo cambios con el paso de los siglos. Esta división culto Vs vulgar se hizo mucho más evidente en la Roma Imperial donde el latín vulgar de Hispania era bastante diferente al latín de Judea, y ambos diferentes del latín de Africa, de Italia o Dalmacia.Nexus 2011-12-02T12:50:29.330

This answer is wrong. In el dinero no lo es todo, dinero is the subject, not the object. The lo agrees with todo.guifa 2017-02-20T09:36:03.820

Respeusta perfecta Nexus, sucinta y precisa.Cayetano Gonçalves 2012-02-10T23:36:09.870

2In the only meaningful interpretation of "El dinero lo consigue todo", "El dinero" is the subject and "todo" the object, therefore "lo" is not needed, and the example is irrelevant. Likewise, in "El dinero no lo es todo", if "El dinero" is the subject, the "lo" is not mandatory. So you're not really answering the question.dainichi 2012-06-04T05:47:46.353

1"español culto"?hippietrail 2011-11-23T22:32:08.130

2Pronombres personales átonos, Diccionario panhispánico de dudas, sección 5.2.Jaime Soto 2011-11-23T22:41:52.463

3Las respuestas (y preguntas) en español son perfectamente válidas; no es necesario escribir en inglés.Gonzalo Medina 2011-11-24T04:48:46.027

1We have the same in English for some of those examples, if you want to put the object first: "the quiche, I'll take it", "your brother, I saw him in the cinema", "My mother, I told her that".. It's a bit odd and is generally used in speech rather than writing because you've said the subject before thinking about the rest of the sentence.Ricky Clarkson 2011-11-24T15:12:06.433


It is my understanding that "todo" requires the neuter pronoun "lo" when "todo" is not further modified/explained. For example, you could say "Juan lo sabe todo" but not "Juan sabe todo."

However, you can say "Juan sabe todo sobre la jardinería" because "todo" is not left on its own, but is further modified or narrowed to "everything about" a certain subject.

Similarly, "Juan lo come todo" or "Juan come de todo", but not "Juan come todo".


Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 31


The lo in this sentence refers to "todo en la vida". It's a direct object pronoun. The same thing applies for:

Te lo doy el dinero.


I give you the money.

This could also be stated as:

Te doy el dinero.

Or, assuming that money is already involved in this conversation, you could say

Te lo doy.

To mean "I give it to you", with "it" referring to the money.

Also, in response to being told "El dinero es todo en la vida", you could say "No lo es!" to mean "No it's not!".

Mr. Jefferson

Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 284

Any clues as to why we need a direct object pronoun when "el dinero" is already the direct object? Do we always need both? Are them some rules or logic behind it? Does it come across as redundant in Spanish as it appears to an English speaker analysing it?hippietrail 2011-11-23T21:28:49.207

@hippietrail: lo is not strictly necessary. Both "te doy el dinero" and "te lo doy el dinero" are correct. It is redundant, to an extent, yes, but I think it's a stylistic thing.Mr. Jefferson 2011-11-23T21:34:38.393


As far as I can see, the lo is simply being used expressively to emphasize the speaker's point (and it refers to todo en la vida, as another answerer mentioned).

The meaning is almost the same as:

El dinero no es todo en la vida.

Money isn't everything in life.

The extra lo gives a feeling similar to this English phrase:

Money - it's not everything in life.


Money is not everything in life.

That, or it could simply be a typo, assumed it's written. The writer may have started with El dinero no lo es and changed his/her mind but forgot to delete the lo. This is admittedly a long shot, and I think my first suspicion is closer to the truth.

Kevin K.

Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 835

I'd agree with the stylistic purpose, but this doesn't answer the question of what in the sentence "lo" refers to.Mr. Jefferson 2011-11-23T21:42:36.490

To do the same in English would require a comma: "Money, it's not everything in life". But I'm not good enough at the peculiarities of "lo" to know about the Spanish usage.hippietrail 2011-11-23T21:51:03.360

Yeah, I was trying to represent more spoken English, since I would never write anything like that. Even with a comma, it looks tacky.

Edited to answer the part about lo. – Kevin K. 2011-11-23T22:17:01.497


I think this kind of sentences are called in Spanish "oración copulativa". Basically they are composed by:

  • Subject.
  • Verb (normally, to be).
  • Attribute.

Dinero is the subject and todo en la vida is the attribute. lo is a particle used to emphasize the attribute.

So, lo refers to todo en la vida and it can be omitted.

Now, I am guessing... If somebody disagrees with the sentence, the conversation would be:

El dinero es todo en la vida.

No, no lo es.

So, basically, I think the use of lo make the sentence sounds a bit like a reply.

J. Calleja

Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 965


In this case lo refers to el dinero as in English you say for example:

I ate the cake.

Or you can say:

I ate it.

In English you say:

Money isn't everything (It isn't everything).

Hope you understand my explanation.


Posted 2011-11-23T17:01:11.740

Reputation: 1


But why is "lo" there when we already have "el" before dinero and "es" implies third person singular doohickey already? In English it's literally "Money it isn't everything in life". Is the "lo" optional or mandatory? Is it a kind of "agreement"?

hippietrail 2011-11-23T18:05:19.100

I think is a ciclic.

Galled 2011-11-23T19:06:30.583

@Galled: It's "clitic" actually. But a clitic is just a kind of particle that attaches to other words. That wouldn't explain why it's needed. In fact it doesn't attach in this case so it's not a clitic anyway. It would be a clitic in something like "damelo" however.hippietrail 2011-11-23T19:54:36.770

I respectfully disagree with this.Mr. Jefferson 2011-11-23T21:26:34.307

@Mr.Jefferson: Is it the answer or one or more of the comments to which you object?hippietrail 2011-11-23T21:29:28.630

1@hippietrail: I don't think the answer is correct.Mr. Jefferson 2011-11-23T21:30:49.150

In English, we could condense "money isn't everything" into "it isn't everything" assuming context tells us what "it" is. In Spanish, we'd condense "el dinero no es todo" to "no es todo" because that conjugation of the infinitive ser implies literally means "it is". Spanish verb conjugations are different for I/you/he-she-it/they/we/etc, so we don't need to specify the pronoun.Mr. Jefferson 2011-11-23T21:40:52.563