I couldn't figure out the use of le in this sentence. I know that it is used for indirect object, but can't seem to understand what the indirect object is in this sentence:

Nunca he pensado en la edad como en una gotera en el techo que le indica a uno la cantidad de vida que le va quedando.

I am a beginner in Spanish who learns by translating texts. Any help is appreciated.

4 Answers 4


In your translating exercises you should not give too much emphasis to the two occurrences of "le". Both are equivalent to repetitions of the object "a uno." Spanish accommodates a greater incidence of redundancy than English. The sentence in question would be nearly identical if both are omitted, with a slight change in structure, such as "...que indica la cantidad de vida que va quedando a uno." I think this might sound a little less natural to a native Spanish speaker, less idiomatic, but should be comprehensible. In other instances, "le" can have important semantic content and is used for emphasis or differentiation or other purposes, so I'm not suggesting you ignore it. But realize that, in some cases, this kind of redundancy serves a stylistic purpose.

  • Thank you for the answer. My question was just about that duplication, which you clarified very well.
    – Ali Bektas
    May 25, 2021 at 17:10
  • I'd say that "le" is used twice because it has two different values: the first "le" is an indirect object proper, while the second one has possessive value (dativo simpatético): "... as a leak that tells you how much is left of your life."
    – Gustavson
    May 25, 2021 at 18:06
  • Eliminating the second "le" (which I don't think is redundant) could lead to a different meaning: "... how much is left of life (in general, on Earth)".
    – Gustavson
    May 25, 2021 at 18:12
  • I agree that the second "le" is integral to the original sentence. In translation, which the question addressed, if it were expressed, it would result in something like "..how much life he has left to him", or maybe "how much life one has remaining to him". The repetition isn't essential, except for some emphasis or other purpose.
    – cuevero
    May 27, 2021 at 15:01

Para comprender mejor el pronombre personal de tercera persona "le" en un complemento indirecto, cámbialo a "a él le" ¿pero quién es «él»? Evidentemente, «él» es «uno» (en el sentido de «alguien»), pero está descolocado en la frase, y solo lo descubres si sigues leyendo. Si no se especifica «a uno» antes de «le», lo que esperas encontrar es "me", porque el orador está hablando de sus propios pensamientos:

(yo) Nunca he pensado en la edad como en una gotera en el techo, que (a mí) me indica la cantidad de vida que (a mí) me va quedando.

Si cambias el «a mí» implícito, por «a uno», debe ir explícito la primera vez para que se entienda el cambio de sujeto, pero ya se puede omitir la segunda vez:

(yo) Nunca he pensado en la edad como en una gotera en el techo, que a uno le indica la cantidad de vida que (a uno) le va quedando.

Por último, para hacerlo más complicado, también se podría decir de esta forma, para hacer el pensamiento más impersonal:

(yo) Nunca he pensado en la edad como en una gotera en el techo, que (a tí) te indica la cantidad de vida que (a tí) te va quedando.

En este caso «te» solo puede referirse «a tí», así que no crea confusión omitirlo siempre, aunque en este contexto, en realidad se refiere «a cualquiera» o «a todos», y el pronombre personal adecuado sería «nos».

Por tanto, yo diría más bien algo como:

Nunca he pensado que la edad sea como una gotera en el techo, que nos indica la cantidad de vida que nos queda.


These "le" are talking about a generic person, kind of "I've never thought about age as a leak in the roof that shows to one how much life has one left"

I don't pretend that's a proper translation... I'm just a Spanish speaker. The general idea of the Spanish sentence could be described as:

-I have never thought about age the same way that many people do.

-I have a different point of view from this common point of view.

The common point of view would be: "la edad como una gotera en el techo que muestra cuánto tiempo va quedando"

So I guess the answer is: these "le" are used for "uno" as indirect object, being "uno" the generic person.

Hope that helps!


In Spanish, many verbs work like this:

indicar algo a alguien; decir algo a alguien

When that is the case, the indirect object pronouns are used.

indicarme a mi lo que dijo [for example]
indicarle a él
indicarle a uno
deciros a vosotros
decirles a ustedes

Another example: decirle a él, to tell him. I did not write out full sentences above.

Now, the issue is that in Spanish, the neutral pronoun uno is used much more than in English. indicarle a uno = to indicate to one. We just don't use it like that in English. We express it as: shows us or indicates to us or even that shows a person or shows you.

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