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Sayings and Idioms: Speak Spanish Like a Native Speaker

When studying a foreign language, sometimes people don’t learn phrases and expressions for speaking colloquially, as people really speak on the street. Become familiar with Spanish sayings and idioms and speak Spanish like a native speaker.

Spanish Sayings and Idioms

Colloquial language —which includes idioms, sayings and slang phrases— is distinct from formal speech or formal writing. It is the variety of language that speakers typically use when they are relaxed and not especially self-conscious.

Spanish Sayings

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a saying as an “old and well-known phrase that expresses an idea that most people believe is true.” The Macmillan Dictionary also defines it as “a well-known statement about what often happens in life.” For example, “No news is good news” is a saying meaning that if we are waiting for news about someone, it's probably good if we hear nothing because “bad news” would arrive quickly.

Here are some examples of Spanish sayings:

  • ¡Es pan comido! - It's a piece of cake!

  • Borrón y cuenta nueva - Kiss and make up

  • De tal palo, tal astilla - Like father, like son

  • Dejemos las cosas en claro - Let's get things clear

  • ¡Qué pequeño es el mundo! - (It's a) Small world!

  • Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando - A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

  • A palabras necias, oídos sordos - A foolish words, deaf ears

  • En las malas se conoce a los amigos - A friend in need is a friend indeed

  • Las palabras se las lleva el viento - Actions speak louder than words/voice

  • Las penas con pan son menos - All griefs with bread are less

  • No todo lo que brilla es oro - All that glitters is not gold

  • Tan claro como el agua - It's as clear as day

  • Más vale tarde que nunca - Better late than never

  • Más vale prevenir que lamentar - Better safe than sorry

  • Más vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer - Better the devil you know than the devil you don't

  • Caiga quien caiga - Come hell or high water

  • No hay mal que por bien no venga - Every cloud has a silver lining

  • Cada quién habla como le va en la feria - Everyone sees things from his / her own point of view

  • Cría fama y échate a dormir - Give a dog a bad name (and hang it)

  • Haz el bien sin mirar a quién - Do what is right, come what may

  • El que quiera azul celeste, que le cueste - He that would have the fruit must climb the tree

  • El que ríe último ríe mejor - He who laughs last, laughs longest

  • Lo barato sale caro - If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly

  • En boca cerrada no entran moscas - If you keep your mouth shut, you won't put your foot in it

  • El que se fue a la Villa perdió su silla - If you leave your place, you lose it

  • Piensa mal y acertarás - If you think the worst, you won't be far wrong

  • Es cuestión de vida o muerte - It's a matter of life and death

  • Está para chuparse los dedos - It's finger licking good

  • Más vale solo que mal acompañado - It's better to be on your own than with people you don't like

  • Que sea lo que Dios quiera - It's in the lap of the Gods

  • Ladrón que roba a ladrón tiene cien años de perdón - It's no crime to steal from a thief

  • Más se perdió en la guerra - It's not the end of the world

  • Al que madruga Dios lo ayuda - It's the early bird that catches the worm

  • Cuentas claras, amistades largas - Let's get things clear

  • La distancia es el olvido - Long absent, soon forgotten

  • Ahogarse en un vaso de agua - Make a mountain out of a molehill

  • No sólo de pan vive el hombre - Man cannot live by bread alone

  • Dinero llama a dinero - Money goes where money is

  • No dejes para mañana lo que puedes hacer hoy - Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today

  • No hay mal que dure cien años - Nothing goes on for ever

  • Hombre prevenido vale por dos - One good fore wit is worth two after wits