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5 Spanish Expressions with Cantar

by Jake Beus

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January 9th, 2012

Thanks to all of you who wished me well on Facebook and Twitter over the last few days as I was ill. I feel great now and I’m ready to attack this new year. Today I’d like to share with you 5 Spanish expressions with ‘cantar’. The verb ‘cantar’ means ‘to sing’, but it can mean something completely different in an expression.

cantar como una almeja | to call attention to oneself and look ridiculous
Cantaba como una almeja con esa camisa extraña. | She stood out like a sore thumb with that strange shirt.
Lady Gaga siempre canta como una almeja. | Lady Gaga always calls attention to herself and looks ridiculous.

cantar a alguien las cuarenta | to tell it like it is, speak one’s mind clearly, tell an unpleasant truth
Le canté las cuarenta cuando lo vi. | I gave him a piece of my mind when I saw him.
Ella me cantó las cuarenta en mi juventud. | She told it like it was to me in my younger years.

cantar victoria | to brag about or rejoice in a triumph, bring out the champagne
No cantemos victoria todavía. | Let’s not bring out the champagne yet.
Vamos a cantar victoria hasta la mañana. | We are going to celebrate until the morning.

cantar la justa | to speak frankly, tell it like it is
Eduardo nos contó la justa sobre la situación. | Edward told us the truth about the situation.
El jefe les cantó la justa a sus employees. | The boss spoke frankly to his employees.

cantarle a alguien la cartilla | to set someone straight, lay down the law
Eva le cantó la cartilla a su amante. | She laid down the law to her lover.
El gerente les cantó la cartilla a sus empleados en su primer día. | The manager laid down the law to his employees on his first day.

Daily Challenge: Use one of these phrases in your normal speech today.


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