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")?

  • 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
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 20:03
  • "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. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:31
  • Also: which is a more precise translation: "Money is not everything in life" or "Everything in life is not money"?
    – krubo
    Commented Nov 25, 2011 at 3:05
  • @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
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 5:59
  • @krubo Good question, I think it can be both. In the former case, "lo" in not mandatory, in the latter, it is.
    – dainichi
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 6:00

6 Answers 6


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)

  • 2
    Pronombres personales átonos, Diccionario panhispánico de dudas, sección 5.2.
    – Jaime Soto
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 22:41
  • 1
    We 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. Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 15:12
  • 4
    In 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
    Commented Jun 4, 2012 at 5:47
  • 8
    This answer is wrong. In el dinero no lo es todo, dinero is the subject, not the object. The lo agrees with todo. Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 9:36
  • 4
    This answer is wrong. As guifa says, dinero is the subject. Plus as J.Calleja states on his answer, this sentence has a copulative verb, which means that it can't have a direct object. Commented Apr 10, 2018 at 18:17

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

  • 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.

For this next part, I am guessing... If somebody disagreed with an affirmative version of the sentence, the conversation might be:

El dinero es todo en la vida.

No, no lo es.

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

  • I have attached the bounty here. (I would have preferred to get more guidance from the community around this decision, since formal grammar is not my strong suit.) Commented Apr 18, 2018 at 2:44

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".


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!".

  • 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? Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:28
  • @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. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:34

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.

  • I'd agree with the stylistic purpose, but this doesn't answer the question of what in the sentence "lo" refers to. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:42
  • 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. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:51
  • 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.
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 22:17

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.

  • 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"? Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 18:05
  • I think is a ciclic.
    – Galled
    Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 19:06
  • @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. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 19:54
  • I respectfully disagree with this. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:26
  • 1
    @hippietrail: I don't think the answer is correct. Commented Nov 23, 2011 at 21:30

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