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Archive for the ‘Spanish Idioms’ Category

by CaptainCode

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November 11th, 2013

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¡Hola Amigos! Feliz Día de los Veteranos, and let’s start the week with 5 Spanish idioms.

  • English: It’s raining cats and dogs
  • Spanish: Llueve a mares
  • Literal: It rains seas


  • English: Just in case
  • Spanish: Por si las moscas
  • Literal: If the flies (insects)


  • English: To be a piece of cake (to be easy)
  • Spanish: Ser pan comido
  • Literal: To be eaten bread


  • English: We all make mistakes sometimes
  • Spanish: El que tiene boca se equivoca
  • Literal: Who has a mouth makes mistakes


  • English: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
  • Spanish: Vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando
  • Literal: One bird in hand is worth more than a hundred flying


by CaptainCode

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October 30th, 2013

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Experienced language learners know that idioms, or, officially called idiomatic expressions (which some students who have just failed a quiz on the subject, prefer to call ‘idiotic’ expressions, BTW), are a fun way of learning a foreign language.

Even if you are far from being fluent, spicing up your speech with an idiom adds the confidence and charm to your conversation.

Moreover, idioms provide valuable insights into language and culture, or even mindset, if you prefer. Why not learn a few simple Spanish idioms? (more advanced stuff is coming, too!)

English: Look before you leap
Spanish: Antes que te cases, mira lo que haces
Direct translation: Before you marry, look what you do

English: You can’t please everyone
Spanish: Nunca llueve a gusto de todos
Direct translation: It never rains to everyone’s liking

English: You can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear
Spanish: Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda
Direct translation: Even if the monkey dresses in silk, she’ll still be a monkey

English: You’re pulling my leg
Spanish: A otro perro con ese hueso
Direct translation: To another dog with that bone

English: Rome was not built in a day
Spanish: No se ganó Zamora en una hora
Direct translation: Zamora was not won in an hour

by Jake Beus

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January 17th, 2012

One more day until the daily program begins! We will walk you through the Visual Link Spanish Level 1 course and suggest what you should be doing each day. Be sure to check back here on the blog tomorrow and keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated. You have to deal with one more day riding along with me and my Spanish expressions. Here are 5 Spanish expressions with ‘hay‘:

no hay bronca | no problem
No hay bronca. Hablemos de otra cosa. | No problem. Let’s talk about something else.
Vamos a la casa. No hay bronca. | Let’s go home. It’s not a problem.

no hay de qué | don’t mention it, you’re welcome
No hay de qué, amigo. Estoy encantado de ayudarte. | You’re welcome, dear friend. I’m delighted to help you.
No hay de qué. Voy a compartir mis cosas. | You’re welcome. I’m going to share my things.

no hay pero que valga | there’s no buts about it
Tienes que aceptar esta oferta y no hay pero que valga. | You have to accept this offer and there’s no buts about it.
Vamos al cine y no hay pero que valga. | We’re going to the movies and no buts about it.

no hay vuelta de hoja | there’s no turning back, there’s no doubt about it
Así se va a hacer y no hay vuelta de hoja. | That’s the way it’ll be done and there’s no backing out of it.
Ya no hablemos;  no hay vuelta de hoja. | Let’s not talk anymore about it; there’s no turning back.

no hay pena | no need to be embarrassed
Mira, no hay pena. No puedes recordar el nombre de todos tus clientes. | Look, no need to be embarrassed. You can’t remember the names of all your customers.
No hay pena. No sabías. | No need to be embarrassed. You didn’t know.

Daily Challenge: Use one of these phrases in your daily Spanish practice and tell me about it in the comments or on Facebook.

by Jake Beus

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January 16th, 2012

We are very excited about the launch of our new daily program on Wednesday. This daily program will guide you through the Level 1 software and show you what you should be working on each day. Be sure to check back here for the daily video.

Now that my shameless plug is over, I’d like to teach you 5 common Spanish expressions with the verb ‘quedar’. The verb ‘quedar’ means ‘to leave it’, ‘to agree’, or ‘to decide’. However, it can mean something completely different in an expression. Without further adieu, here are the 5 Spanish expressions with examples of them:

quedar bien (mal) con | to be on the good (bad) side of
Mario siempre sabía quedar bien conmigo. | Mario always knew how to get on my good side.
Elena queda mal conmigo. | Elena is on my bad side.

quedar en la calle | to be homeless, left with nothing
Quedaron en la calle después del incendio de la fábrica. | They were left with nothing after the fire at the factory.
Quedaron en la calle debido a la economía. | They were left with nothing because of the economy.

quedar flechado/a | to fall in love with, feel love at first sight, be in love
Cuando vi a María, quedé flechado. | When I saw Maria, it was love at first sight.
Mario quedó flechado con Isabel y no quiso volver a trabajar. | Mario fell in love with Isabel and didn’t want to go back to work.

quedar grande (pequeño) | to be big (small)
Le quedó grande el vestido. | The dress was too big for her.
Me quedó pequeño la camisa. | The shirt was too small for me.

quedar pintado/a | to fit like a glove, very well; to be skin tight
¡Este vestido te queda pintado! | This dress fits you like a glove!
Me quedan pintado los pantalones. | The pants are skin tight on me.

Daily Challenge: Use one of these phrases as you practice Spanish and tell me about it in the comments or on Facebook.

by Jake Beus

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January 10th, 2012

Tirar is one of those verbs that has a lot of different meanings depending on the context. In my experience, the most common meaning of ‘tirar’ when not in an expression  is ‘to throw’. It can mean something completely different in an expression.

tirar arroz | to put down, criticize
No me gusta tirar arroz a nadie, pero ese hombre se cree mucho. | I don’t like to put anybody down, but that man has an inflated opinion of himself.
Ella no tiene confianza porque sus padres siempre le tiran arroz. | She doesn’t have confidence because her parents are always putting her down.

tirar la esponja | to throw in the towel
Tiramos la esponja después de muchos años de sacrificio sin lograr ningún resultado. | We threw in the towel after many years of sacrifice without achieving any results.
Enseño a mis hijos a nunca tirar la esponja. | I teach my kids to never throw in the towel.

tirar la piedra y esconder la mano | to hurt someone but cover it up, be a hypocrite
Es una persona de las que tira la piedra y esconde la mano. | She’s a hypocrite.
Ella suele tirar la piedra y esconder la mano. | She’s usually a hypocrite.

tirar pinta | to dress to impress
Esta noche vamos a tirar pinta. | Tonight we are going to get all dressed up.
Es bueno tirar pinta para una entrevista. | It’s good to dress to impress for an interview.

tirarse el pegote | to lie, brag,  toot one’s own horn
Siempre se tira el pegote. | He’s always tooting his own horn.
Michael Jordan es un buen ejemplo de alguien que se tira el pegote. | Michael Jordan is a good example of someone who toots his own horn.

Daily Challenge: Use one of these Spanish expressions and post your experience on Facebook.

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.

by Jake Beus

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December 20th, 2011

Every week I try to give you some new Spanish idioms or Spanish expressions. Today the focus is on the verb ‘echar’. ‘Echar’ is a very versatile Spanish word and verb. Depending on the context, it can mean many different things. Here are my favorite echar expressions.

¡Échale ganas! | Give it all you’ve got!
¡Échale ganas! Así terminas tus deberes más temprano. | Give it all you’ve got! That way you’ll finish your duties earlier.
¡Échale ganas y un poquito más! | Give it all you’ve got and a little more!

echar de menos | to miss
Te vamos a echar de menos cuando te vayas. | We’re going to miss you when you go.
Te voy a echar de menos. | I’m going to miss you.

echar la culpa | to blame
Robaron el dinero y me echaron la culpa. | They stole the money and blamed me.
Su hermana mintió y le echó la culpa a él. | His sister lied and blamed him.

echar leña al fuego | to add fuel to the fire
Es mejor callarse y no echar más leña al fuego. | It’s better to keep quiet and not stir things up more than they already are.
Su esposo llegó y echó más leña al fuego. | Her husband arrived and made things even worse.

echar raíces | to settle down
¿Cuándo te vas a casar y echar raíces? | When are you going to get married and settle down?
En su corazón desea echar raíces. | He really wants to settle down.

Hopefully you have an opportunity to use some of these new Spanish idioms and expressions. When you use them for the first time be sure to ask if what you said makes sense. Good luck!

For those of you who are  not aware, there are only 4 more days of our 13 Days of Christmas. Click on that link so that you can download the audio lessons from the Visual Link Spanish Level 1 course for free. ¡Feliz Navidad!

by Jake Beus

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December 12th, 2011

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I have dreamed of days when I could go shopping and buy whatever I wanted without worrying about the bill. It would also be fun to go to really nice restaurants, order the most expensive items, and not worry about the bill. Unfortunately I haven’t quite made it there yet. I find myself adding up prices in my head and counting the costs. This post will give you some Spanish idioms which involve ‘la cuenta’, which means ‘counting’, or ‘the bill’.

la cuenta | counting, bill

La cuenta es cuenta. | Business is business.
El gerente se rindó y dijo que la cuenta es cuenta. | The manger gave up and said business is business.

pasar la cuenta a alguien | to make someone pay for it
El problema es que todos quieren pasar la cuenta a otra persona. | The problem is that everyone wants to make someone else pay for it.
Me gusta pasar la cuenta a María sin que lo sepa. | I like to make Maria pay for it without her knowing it.

ajustar cuentas con alguien | to get even with someone
¡Yo ajustaré cuentas con ella! | I’ll get even with her!
Después de la lucha, juró que ajustaría cuentas con su oponente. | After the fight, he swore that he would get even with his opponent.

tener cuentas pendientes con alguien | to have unfinished business to settle, to have a bone to pick with someone
Kris Humphries tiene cuentas pendientes con Kim Kardashian. | Kris Humphries has a bone to pick with Kim Kardashian.
Tengo cuentas pendientes con mi contador. | I have unfinished business with my accountant.

They say that money can’t buy happiness. I’d like to see whether or not that’s true someday with my own money. Have fun and do your best not to be overcome by all the cuentas this holiday season.

by Jake Beus

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December 2nd, 2011

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The Power of Sleep

As I was thinking what to write about this morning, I was suddenly overcome with sleepiness. Naturally, I knew I should write about sleeping. The Spanish verb ‘dormir’ means ‘to sleep’. Here is a list of Spanish idioms that use a form of the verb ‘dormir’. Notice how I tell you what the word means, and that I use it in a sentence.

el dormilón, la dormilona | sleepyhead, someone who sleeps a lot
No me gusta despertar a mi hijo. Es un dormilón. | I don’t like to wake up my son. He’s a sleepyhead.
¿Son las once de la mañana ya? ¡Qué dormilón! | It’s already 11 in the morning. What a long time I slept!

dormir a alguien | to deceive someone, to pull the wool over someone’s eyes
El empleado nos durmió a todos y se quedó con la lana. | The employee deceived all of us and kept the money.
El jefe durmió a sus empleados y los despidió. | The boss deceived his employees and fired them.

dormir como un tronco | to sleep like a log
Suelo dormir como un tronco. | I usually sleep like a log.
Ojalá que mi hija pueda dormir como un tronco. | I hope that my daughter can sleep like a log.

dormir la mona | to sleep it off
Vete a dormir la mona. | Go sleep it off.
Tomaba demasiado y durmíó la mona. | He was drinking too much and slept it off.

As the weekend draws near, I hope that you will be able to get enough sleep. More importantly though, I hope that you can use these phrases in your Spanish conversations.

by Jake Beus

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November 15th, 2011

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In the Spanish language there are many idioms and expressions that don’t make sense when translated directly into the English language. Do your best to avoid direct translation. Try to learn Spanish idioms in context rather than just reviewing a vocabulary list and memorizing it. Whenever I give you a list of Spanish idioms, I will also give you an example of them used in a sentence or two. This is a list of my favorite Spanish idioms using the verb “dar” in some form. Notice how they are used in my examples. In addition to learning from my sentences, practice by forming your own sentences and incorporating your new vocabulary into them.

dale que dale | on and on, over and over again, phrase that expresses repetition
Aquí estoy, dale que dale a la oficina. (Here I am, working away in the office.)
Ya me cansé de que siempre estés dale que dale al tambor. (I’m tired of you always banging the drums.)

dar a alguien con la puerta en las narices | to refuse someone something, to slam the door on him/her
Cuando les pedí un aumento, me dieron con la puerta en las narices. (When I asked them for a raise, they slammed the door in my face.)
Los negociantes me dieron con la puerta en las narices. (The businessmen turned me down.)

dar asco | to make someone sick to his or her stomach, to disgust
Ese pollo me da asco. (That chicken makes me sick to my stomach.)
La comida de mi hermano me da asco. (My brother’s food makes me sick.)

There are many more Spanish idioms using “dar”. Those are just a few of my favorites. Be sure to practice using them in sentences rather than memorizing them.

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