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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Poco a poco
little by little
The English equivalent might be ‘one step at a time’.
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.
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!