8 of the best Spanish Idioms

Octopi, garages and grandmothers with wheels - prepare for our Spanish program with some of the best Spanish idioms we’ve come across.

Octopi, garages and grandmothers with wheels – prepare for our free Spanish program, from the Open University, with some of the best Spanish idioms we’ve come across.

No se pueden pedirle peras al olmo
you cannot ask an elm for pears

In short: you cannot ask the impossible.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 4

Si mi abuela tuviera ruedas seria una bicicleta 
If my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a bicycle

This means if things happened differently, they would be different, so it’s silly to even suggest it.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 1

Pájaro que comió, voló 
bird that ate, bird that flew

A lovely phrase we don’t really have an English version of – it means a person who eats and then rushes off.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 2

Al pan pan, y al vino vino 
call bread bread, wine wine

A much more appetising way of saying call a spade a spade, as in to state something exactly as it is.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 3

Mucho ruido y pocas nueces
a lot of noise, and very few nuts.

Meaning a lot of fuss, not much actual action. There could be a few English versions of this – much ado about nothing, or maybe all mouth no trousers are two contenders.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 5

Al mal tiempo buena cara 
To bad weather good face

This means if life gets tough, stay happy – a bit like the English if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 6

Poco a poco 
little by little

 The English equivalent might be ‘one step at a time’.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 7

Más perdido que un pulpo en un garaje
More lost than an octopus in a garage.

 We saved the best until last – this phrase means to not have a clue.

FutureLearn Spanish Program Idioms 8

Explore more Spanish with our Spanish Program and soon you’ll be using these phrases like a native.  

P.S. Add any Spanish idioms you’ve come across in the comments – we’d love to see them!

 

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Comments (12)

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  • Frances

    Great to know these phrases and a good way to learn new vocabulary. Gracias

  • Ligia

    I loved so much that frases… We really need to do differents thigns each day to worth it our life… Bye

  • Alain

    En boca cerrada, no entran moscas.
    Muestra la utilidad de estar callado, pues el silienio excusa muchas necedades.

  • Wanda

    Thank you. Great!

  • Isuri

    Great.
    Love spanish. Thank you very much for your great work.

  • Wonderful post, I am learning Spanish and sometimes it’s really hard to remember idioms. All 8 idioms are well explained, thank you so much, you made my day. I will remember them forever.
    Thank you,
    Georgie, UK

  • Verónica Ruiz Ortega

    Hi! We say ‘No puedes pedirles peras AL olmo’ . We don’t say ‘No puedes pedirles peras A UN olmo’.

  • Bingualbebes

    In our house, someone who eats and then leaves (pajaro que comió, voló) would be said to be doing a “scoffsky and offsky”. Its usually used to criticize someone for not helping to clear away or wash up.

    Bilingualbebes.wordpress.com

  • Bingualbebes

    In our house, someone who eats and then leaves (pajaro que comió, voló) would be said to be doing a “scoffsky and offsky”. Its usually used to criticize someone for not helping to clear away or wash up.

  • viv

    para chuparse sus dedos. A compliment when eating food. It was so delicious or fingerlicking good. Literally …. for licking your fingers.

    • Verónica Ruiz Ortega

      Hi, viv! I’m Spanish. Sorry to correct you, but don’t say ‘para chuparse sus dedos’. You have to say ‘para chuparse LOS dedos’. If you see, the first option change the meaning of a sentence.
      ‘Para chuparse los dedos’ is the same as ‘De rechupete’.
      🙂