Learn Spanish Idioms

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Scroll down for a list of common, everyday Spanish idioms.

What is an idiom?

Idioms could be thought of as elaborate expressions.

An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not always obvious. The meaning of an idiom usually needs to be learned, no matter what language it is in. In our mother tongue, we tend to learn these from those around us while growing up ... and often keep doing so as adults.

The important point to note is that, usually, Spanish idioms cannot be translated word for word into English. There is no easy way out but to learn them.

For example

"I'm just pulling your leg."

"Pulling your leg" is an idiom meaning "to be joking".

The Spanish equivalent is "Te estoy tomando el pelo". Literally, this translates as "I am taking your hair".

Of course, neither of these expressions would make any sense if you hadn't learned them - in one way or another - beforehand.


The secret to making Spanish idioms effortlessly part of your conversational language is to listen to them regularly in context.

You'll be surprised at how easily Spanish idioms can become second nature - before you know it you'll use one without even thinking about it and, if you're like me, it will put a big grin on your face :).

It was when I was learning my fifth language that I realised what a difference listening really makes. I was speaking to locals within weeks of starting!

Of course, it helps if the person you are listening to is speaking slowly enough for you to understand and doesn't mind you interrupting to ask them to repeat themselves.

I find I learn a great deal from watching foreign language TV and DVDs with the foreign-language subtitles on. If I'm watching a DVD on my laptop, I have the added bonus of being able to slow the speaking speed right down which really helps when you're still new to the language. Give it a try some time!

If you really want to get to grips with spoken conversational Spanish quickly and effectively, check out the Succeed at Spanish 'Master Those Regular Verbs' audio ebook. Aside from verbs, nearly 1000 other everyday words (including food, drink, family members, numbers, months, seasons and much, much more) are used in context and accompanied with well-enunciated audio in four varying speeds, for beginners to already-proficient Spanish speakers.



SOME EVERYDAY SPANISH IDIOMS


In black: Spanish

In brown: Literal translation, word-for-word where possible.
Approximate interpretations of words are used where no exact translation exists.

In green: English translation



SPANISH IDIOM EXAMPLE IN CONTEXT (idiom underlined)
 
(no) valer la pena (No) vale la pena luchar por ello.
(Not) it is worth the hardship to fight for it.
It's (not) worth fighting for.
 
ser el colmo ¡Es el colmo! No aguanto más tus estupideces.
It is the peak! I not hold more your stupidities.
This is the last straw! I can't take any more of your stupidities.
 
ir a freír espárragos ¡Vete a freír espárragos!
Go to fry asparagus!
Go away!
 
que cara (más dura) ¡Qué cara (más dura) tienes viniendo aquí despues de lo que hiciste!
What face (more hard) you have coming here after of it that you did!
What a cheek you have coming here after what you did!
 
¿Qué le vamos a hacer? ¿Qué le vamos a hacer?
What to it we are to do?
There's nothing we can do about it.
 
por los pelos Pillamos el tren por los pelos.
We caught the train for the hairs.
We caught the train by the skin of our teeth.

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caer en la cuenta de que ... Entonces cayo en la cuenta de que estaba perdido.
Then he fell in the count of that he was lost.
He then realized that he was lost.
 
consultarlo con la almohada Es una decision muy grande. Voy a consultarlo con la almohada.
It is a decision very big. I go to consult it with the pillow.
It is a very big decision. I'm going to sleep on it.
 
dar de narices Te vas a dar de narices con la pared.
To you go to give of noses with the wall.
You're going to hit the wall.
 
dar la lata No me deja de dar la lata.
He/she not to me leaves of to give the can.
He/she won't stop bugging me.
 
dar la paliza Deja de darme la paliza. Estoy cansada.
You stop to give to me the slap. I'm tired.
Stop bugging me. I'm tired.
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dar por sentado No todos podemos dar por sentado que vamos a aprovar los exámenes.
Not everyone we can to give for seated that we go to pass the exams.
Not everyone can take for granted that they will pass the exams.
 
dar vueltas a algo Le he estado dando vueltas a su teoría y no creo que esté de acuerdo.
To it I have been giving turns to your theory and not I think that I am of agreement.
I have been giving some thought to your theory and I don't think that I agree.
 
dejar sin palabras Es un discurso increíble. Les vas a dejar sin palabras.
It is a speech incredible. To them you go to leave without words.
It's an incredible speech. You're going to leave them speechless.
 
dejar patas arriba Cuando los últimos inquilinos se fueron, dejaron la casa patas arriba.
When the last tenants they went, they left the house legs up.
When the last tenants left, they left the house in a mess.
 
en un abrir y cerrar de ojos No me dió tiempo hacer una foto. Pasó en un abrir y cerrar de ojos.
Not to me it gave time to make a photo. It passed in an open and close of eyes.
I didn't have time to take a photo. It was over in a flash.
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ser pan comido La entrevista será pan comido.
The interview will be bread eaten.
The interview will be a piece of cake.
 
ser un cero a la izquierda Este jefe es un cero a la izquierda.
This boss is a zero to the left.
This boss is useless.
 
estar para chuparse los dedos La comida de la abuela está para chuparse los dedos.
The food of the grandmother is for to lick one's fingers.
Grandma's cooking is delicious.
 
estar como una cabra El profesor de química está como una cabra.
The teacher of chemistry is like a goat.
The chemistry teacher is nuts.
 
estar en las nubes Hijo, te tienes que concentrar. Siempre estás en las nubes.
Son, to yourself you have that to concentrate. Always you are in the clouds.
Son, you have to concentrate. You've always got your head in the clouds.
 
estar hasta las narices de ... Estoy hasta las narices de los vecinos de al lado. Hacen demasiado ruido.
I'm until the noses of the neighbors of the side. They make too much noise.
I'm fed up with the next door neighbors. They make too much noise.
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FREE
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FAST TRACK your Spanish learning!

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- FREE subscriber-exclusive audio files

- and regular Spanish-learning tips & shortcuts

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