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Lo único que obtendrás es un mal descanso nocturno.

Why is lo used here?

El or la is used in this context.

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In this case lo is the neutral article (determiner):

el → masculine singular

la → feminine singular

lo → neutral singular

los → masculine plural

las → feminine plural

All of these Spanish articles correspond to the form THE in English.

In your example there is nothing determining the gender of what is the only thing that you will obtain, therefore you use the neutral.

Compare:

La única COSA que obtendrás es un mal descanso nocturno.

El único RESULTADO que obtendrás es un mal descanso nocturno.

lo is normaly used when there is no noun determining the gender of the subject; anyway the concordance with the adjective should be done with the masculine (of the adjective).

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  • and why is it in the subbjunctive
    – user21669
    Mar 6 at 1:00
  • There is no subjunctive in your example, "obtendrás" is future, indicative, 2nd person, singular Mar 6 at 3:29
  • Maybe you are referring to "RESULTADO", that's an homophonous form "EL RESULTADO" → noun (the result, the outcome). "HA RESULTADO" → past perfect (that has resulted). "QUE RESULTE" → subjunctive (that it results, that it turns out) Mar 6 at 3:39

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