How should I translate this sentence?

En mi vida le he visto

This sentence has the same meaning as No le he visto en mi vida, which means I haven't seen him in my life. But there is not a negative 'no' in the sentence En mi vida le he visto. Why the sentence express the negative meaning?

  • 2
    It is negative. You might want to read this recent related thread: spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/18442/…
    – Gustavson
    Mar 4, 2017 at 1:12
  • Hi Bruce, welcome to Spanish.SE. I edited your question a little bit to help highlighting some key concepts and I changed the title to something I believe describes better what you are trying to understand. Remember that you can always rollback theses changes if you don't agree with them. Don't forget to visit the Tour and Help sections to learn a little bit more about the philosophy of this site. Welcome again.
    – Diego
    Mar 4, 2017 at 2:44

1 Answer 1


You may find this answer interesting: ¿Cuándo adquirió la locución adverbial “en la vida” un sentido negativo?

Basically, "En mi vida" or "en la vida" is a locution or expression that means "never" or "never in my life". Thus

En mi vida le he visto


Nunca le he visto

Which of course has the meaning of "No le he visto en mi vida / I haven't seen him in my life". It is basically "I have never seen him in my life", so you don't need a explicit no. The nunca (understood from "En la vida") carries that meaning.

  • 2
    To me it seems just as the omission of nunca in nunca en la vida. The nunca is implied conventionally
    – Rafael
    Mar 4, 2017 at 12:27
  • @Rafael you are correct. That's the key, "nunca" or "jamás" are implied in the locution "En la vida". That is why the locution has a negative meaning without a "no".
    – Diego
    Mar 4, 2017 at 13:18

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