Spanish Idioms

What is an Idiom?

An idiom is a common phrase which means something different from its literal meaning but can be understood because of their popular use. Idioms are made of normal words that have a special meaning known to almost everyone.”

Source: Wikipedia

Introduction to Spanish Idioms

Every language has its own idioms and Spanish isn’t the exception. For language learners, idioms tend to be a big challenge, as they can be deceiving expressions. It doesn’t matter how many vocabulary words you have learned, the meaning of idioms doesn’t depend on the meaning of their words but on the context and cultural background. 

A proper use and a good understanding of idioms are signs of an advanced learner of the language. Studying Spanish idioms is a way to take your Spanish skills to the next level and dig deep into the most peculiar intricacies of the language. 

Why Should Students Learn Idioms?

When learning a new language idioms can be very confusing. Particularly when you hear them for the first time from a native speaker. Think of the common expression in the English “Piece of Cake”.

“That test was a piece of cake!”

How confusing is the literal meaning? Why would a test literally be a piece of cake? Not that I would complain.. In a sense learning idioms is like learning new vocabulary words. Since the expressions have a meaning unrelated to their literal interpretation, language students will want to learn common idioms and commit them to memory to help speed up their road to becoming conversational.

Top 10 most common idioms that are easy to use in daily conversation:

SPANISHENGLISH (LITERAL)ENGLISH (TRANSLATION)
1Quien no arriesga, no gana Who doesn’t risk, doesn’t winNothing ventured, nothing gained
2Estar como una cabraTo be like a goatTo be crazy
3No buscarle las pulgas al perroDon’t look for fleas on the dogLet sleeping dogs lie
4Feliz como unas castañuelasHappy as castanetsHappy as a clam
5No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoyDon’t leave for tomorrow that which you can do todayDon’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today
6Irse por las ramasTo go by the branchesTo beat around the bush
7Quien fue a Sevilla, perdidó su sillaHe who went to Sevilla, lost his seatYou snooze, you loose
8Hacer el monoTo do the monkeyTo monkey around
9Muchos generales para tan pocos soldadosMany generals for so few soldiersToo many chiefs, not enough Indians
10A caballo regalado no le mires el dienteA gifted horse, don’t look at the teethDon’t look a gift horse in the mouth

Youtube Lessons

Spanish Idioms With Tener (l)

EnglishSpanish
to be coldtener frío
to be Succeed , to have successtener éxito
to be hottener calor
a to have the floortener la palabra
to be years olldtener años
to want , to Desiretener ganas
to be carefultener cuidado
to take the blame, to be at faulttener la culpa
to Be jealousestar celosos
to be envioustener envidia
to Have a (head) achetener dolor de cabeza
to be hungrytener hambre

Spanish Idioms With Tener (ll)

EnglishSpanish
to be Afraid of , to have fear oftener miedo de
to be ashamedtener verguenza
to be luckytener suerte
to be in a rage , to be very angrytener rabia
to take someone for , to consider someone to betener por
to be thirstytener sed
to look badtener mala cara
to have to do withtener que ver con
to be in a hurrytener prisa
to be sleepytener sueño
to have a lot / a little / something / nothing to dotener mucho / poco / algo / nada que hacer
to be righttener razon
to take placetener lugar

Idioms with Llèvar, Meter and Poder

EnglishSpanish
to put one´s foot in one´s mouthmeter la pata
to meddlemeterse donde no te llaman
to make clearponer en claro
to carry ( something ) awayllevar (algo)
to Put the cards on the tableponer las cartas sobre la mesa
to Carry outllevar a cabo
to sueponer pleito
to take the opposite point of viewtomar el punto de vista opuesto
to get along well / badly withllevarse bien / mal con
to star toponerse a
to heap praise on someonealabar a alguien
to make look ridiculoushacer el ridículo
to snoop aroundmeter las narices
to put in doubtponer en duda

Idioms with Prepositions 1

EnglishSpanish
in the open airal aire libre
acrossa través de
to the rightA la derecha
in a good moodde buen humor
probablya lo mejor
at the same timeal mismo tiempo
on foota pie
at the beginningal principio
inside outal reves
In the distanceEn la distancia
willinglyde buena gana
at the beginning ofal principios de
From now onDe hoy en adelante
to the leftA la izquierda
alonea solas
by dayde día
by dint ofa fuerza de
at the same timea la vez
in this wayDe esta manera

Idioms with Prepositions 2

EnglishSpanish
every other day / week/month/ yeardías / semana / mes / año
really?¿De Verdad?
on the other handen cambio
straight aheadrecto
in regard toen cuanto a
StandingDe pie
by nightpor la noche
Nowhere, not anywherepor ninguna parte,
Right awayen seguida
Suddenlyde pronto
by no meansde ninguna manera
in fact as a matter of facten efecto
straight aheadderecho
everywherepor todas partes
in a bad moodde mal humor
anywayde todos modos
againde nuevo
unwillinglyde mala gana
Suddenlyde repente

Idioms with Quedar and Tomar

EnglishSpanish
to be left astonishedquedar asombrado
to agree onquedar en
to take seriouslytomar en serio
to be left pennilessquedarse con el dia y la noche
to keepquedarse con
to take it easytomarselo con calma
to pull someone´s legtomarle enserio

Idioms with Hacer and Hay

EnglishSpanish
to pay attention tohecer caso
there is spacehay espacio
it´s good / bad weatherhace buen / mal tiempo
to play a parthacer un papel
to hurt oneselfhacer daño
to becomehacerse + profession
to be lackinghacer falta
to harmhacer daño
to take a triphacer un viaje
to do good/ badhacer el bien / el mal
it´s coldHace frío
to become latehacerse tarde
it is Necessaryes necesario
it´s windyHace viento
it´s hot / warmhace calor

Idioms with Dar and Echar

EnglishSpanish
to shoutdar gritos
to flatterechar flores
to burst out cryingecharse a llorar
to feeddar de comer
to give updarse por vencido
to take a walkdar un paseo
to miss (a person or place)echar de menos
to run intodar con
to facedar cara
to give thanksdar las gracias
to strike the hourdar la hora
to lead to ( places )dar a
to realizedarse cuenta de
to give a hug , to embracedar un abrazo
to shake handsdarse la mano
to hurrydarse prisa
to take a walkdar un vuelta
to blameechar la culpa