17 Spanish Sayings That Will Make You Sound Like A Native | Mondly Blog (2023)

Learning popular Spanish sayings is the best shortcut towards sounding like a Spanish native.

Spanish accent is not everything – no matter whether it’s European or Latin American. Sure, it does help you sound more like a native. But first, you should focus on expanding your vocabulary in order to build your confidence while learning Spanish. Go with practical and popular notions such as Spanish sayings, expressions, or idioms that the natives use all the time. This way, you’ll add substance and humor to your discourse and sound more believable, authentic, and surely – more like a Spanish native. After all, this is your main goal when learning Spanish.

Oxford Languages defines “saying” as a short, pithy, and commonly known expression that offers wisdom or a piece of advice. Hence, Spanish sayings will not just make you sound like a native, but will also provide insight into Spanish history and culture. This is why learning the most popular sayings is definitely a win-win situation. So let’s dive in and see what Spanish sayings and expressions you can use to sound as if you were Spanish-born.

Spanish sayings with English equivalents

Spanish sayings are like salt and pepper to your discourse. And like the margarita, the Spanish language is better with a pinch of salt on the rim of the glass. Don’t be too overzealous though. As the English saying goes: one can have too much of a good thing. If you use too many sayings in your discourse, you could come off as… peculiar.

Speaking of English sayings, let’s begin with a list of the most popular Spanish sayings that have a clear English correspondent or equivalent. This way, you’ll easily understand how sayings work in Spanish and know right away what is the proper context to use each of them.

1. Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.

Literal translation: Tell me who you hang out with, and I’ll tell you who you are.

English equivalent: Although in English we often use the literal translation too, we are more familiar with the ‘official’ version of this saying: “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are”. In addition, “birds of a feather flock together” has a similar meaning and can be used as an alternative.

2. No hay mal que por bien no venga.

Literal translation: There’s no bad from which something good doesn’t come.

English equivalent: “Every cloud has a silver lining.”

Absolutely the best Spanish saying you can use to encourage someone to be hopeful even when things are not great.

3. Más vale tarde que nunca.

English equivalent: “Better late than never.”

This one is pretty straightforward as the literal translation is the same as the English equivalent.

(Video) 17 Little Words To Make You Sound More Native In Spanish

17 Spanish Sayings That Will Make You Sound Like A Native | Mondly Blog (1)

4. Cuando el río suena, agua lleva.

Literal translation: When the river makes noise, it’s carrying water.

English equivalent: “There’s no smoke without fire.”

Did you know this one? It means that if there are unpleasant rumors about someone or something, there is probably a good reason for it. Meaning that the rumors are almost always partly true.

5. Del tal palo, tal astilla.

Literal translation: Such is the stick, such is the chip.

English equivalent: “Like father, like son.” / “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

6. A falta de pan, buenas son tortas.

Literal translation: If there’s no bread, cakes will do.

English equivalent: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

Who wouldn’t prefer cakes over bread though?

7. El hábito no hace al monje.

Literal translation: The habit doesn’t make the monk.

English equivalent: “Clothes do not make the man.” / “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Don’t ever judge a person solely by appearances because this is not a reliable indication of the true character of that person. No matter if it’s a positive or a negative bias. You might be surprised.

8. Mucho ruido y pocas nueces.

Literal translation: Lots of noise and few nuts.

English equivalent: “Much ado about nothing.”

That’s… interesting, Spanish. We bet Shakespeare would find this funny.

But it’s not entirely absurd though. Think about the moment you break in a nutshell. If it’s empty, it made a loud noise for literally nothing.

(Video) How to sound like a NATIVE SPANISH SPEAKER! | Superholly

9. El que no arriesga, no gana.

Literal translation: The person who does not risk cannot win.

English equivalent: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Put your neck on the line, take a leap in the dark, sail close to the wind, or run the risk of doing something. It may be worth it.

17 Spanish Sayings That Will Make You Sound Like A Native | Mondly Blog (2)

10.En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo.

Literal translation: In the blacksmith’s house, a wooden knife.

English equivalent: “The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.”

This saying illustrates the ironic absence of an object or virtue in a place where it should not be lacking.

General Spanish sayings with no direct English equivalent

Now, let’s move on to a more tricky business: Spanish sayings with no direct English equivalents. To help you fully understand these, we’ll give you some examples.

Oh, and don’t tell anyone you know it from us, but learning sayings to sound like a native it’s kind of a gimmick. Or a shortcut – to put it more elegantly. Lucky for you, Mondly is all about language learning gimmicks, so don’t hesitate to check out the app and speak Spanish with ease in just 10 minutes a day.

1. Al mal tiempo, buena cara.

Literal translation: To bad weather, good face.

Meaning: Be positive even in bad situations.

How to use it

Estoy pasando por una mala racha. Tengo que terminar un informe para el lunes y aún no he llegado a la mitad. (“I’m going through a rough patch. I have to finish a report by Monday and I’m not even halfway through yet.”)

Oye, no te desesperes. Al mal tiempo, buena cara. (“Hey, don’t despair. It’s important to remain positive even in difficult situations.”)

2. El que tiene boca se equivoca.

Literal translation: Whoever has a mouth makes mistakes.

Meaning: Nobody’s perfect.

(Video) How to speak so that people want to listen | Julian Treasure

How to use it

Me preocupa no haberlo hecho bien en el examen de ayer. Estaba realmente nervioso. (“I’m worried I didn’t do well in yesterday’s exam. I was really nervous.”)

– No te preocupes. El que tiene boca se equivoca. La celebraremos si apruebas. (“Don’t worry. Nobody’s perfect. We’ll celebrate if you pass.”)

17 Spanish Sayings That Will Make You Sound Like A Native | Mondly Blog (3)

3. A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.

Literal translation: God helps those who get up early.

Meaning: The importance of being diligent and responsible in what we do.

This Spanish saying has also been found in literary texts such as ‘The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha’. Slightly changed but keeping the same meaning, the phrase appears in the second chapter: “He who does not get up early with the sun does not enjoy the day”.

How to use it

– Estoy un poco nervioso para mañana, pero espero que todo salga bien con el nuevo proyecto. (“I’m a little nervous for tomorrow, but I hope all will be well with the new project.”)

– ¡Buena suerte! No olvides que a quien madruga, Dios le ayuda. (“Good luck! Don’t forget that God helps those who are determined to get the work done.”)

4. Como Pedro por su casa.

Literal translation: Like Pedro in his house.

Meaning: Someone who behaves comfortably in a house that is not his own.

The phrase has a ‘pejorative’ or negative tinge when applied to a person with a haughty and arrogant attitude. The origin of this popular Spanish saying is the conquest of Huesca by King Pedro I of Aragon in the Battle of Alcoraz. It is said that the monarch conquered the city with little resistance from the Muslim troops who had already killed king Sancho Ramírez, Pedro’s father.

It was an unbelievable victory considering the siege had begun some two years earlier, which is why they praised the ease with which Pedro won this battle. Thus, the Spanish saying ‘entróse como Pedro en Huesca’ (“enter like Pedro through Huesca”) was born and, consequently, the expression ‘como Pedro por su casa’.

How to use it

– Tu suegra lleva aquí un tiempo. Supongo que se siente cómoda aquí. (“Your mother-in-law has been here for a while now. I’m guessing she feels comfortable here.”)

(Video) Are you getting these phrases wrong too? | EGGCORNS

– Si, como Pedro por su casa. (“Yes, like Peter in his house.”)

Spanish sayings about animals

Sayings about animals are common in any language and Spanish makes no exception. Here are some of the most common Spanish sayings about animals.

1. A caballo regalado no se le mira el diente.

Literal translation: A gift horse does not look at the tooth.

English equivalent or meaning: “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

You probably already know in which contexts to use this saying, but do you know its origin story? Back in the day, when horses were the most reliable form of transport for everyone, selling and buying a horse was a tough job. Since horses’ teeth change over time, buyers would check the horse in the mouth to make sure the seller is not lying about the age. Naturally, such practice was considered a sign of mistrust towards the seller.

17 Spanish Sayings That Will Make You Sound Like A Native | Mondly Blog (4)

2. Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando.

Literal translation: A bird in the hand is worth more than one hundred flying.

English equivalent or meaning: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

In other words, don’t risk losing everything by seeking to get more.

3. En boca cerrada no entran moscas.

Literal translation: Flies do not enter the closed mouth.

English equivalent or meaning: Silence is golden. Be discreet and keep your mouth shut. Otherwise, get ready to face the consequences.

How to use it

– Sospecho que Alejandro está mintiendo sobre su título. ¿Debería decírselo a nuestro jefe? (“I suspect that Alejandro is lying about his degree. Should I tell our boss?”)

– No es asunto tuyo. En boca cerrada no entran moscas. (“It’s none of your business. Don’t risk it.”)

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What is a famous Spanish catchphrase? ›

1. Al mal tiempo, buena cara. This phrase is one of the most popular Spanish sayings. It reminds us that even if we have problems and things go wrong, everything will work out better with a positive attitude.

What are idiomatic phrases in Spanish? ›

An idiom or idiomatic expression is a phrase that generally has a figurative meaning. These symbolic expressions, called expresiones idiomáticas in Spanish, form part of the cultural identity of all social groups.

What are 5 famous quotes? ›

Famous quotes in English
That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind.Neil ArmstrongEnglish
The love of money is the root of all evil.the BibleGreek
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.Franklin D. RooseveltEnglish
The truth will set you free.the BibleGreek
54 more rows

What are famous Mexican sayings? ›

Mexican Proverbs, Quotes, and Sayings
  • “God helps those who rise early.” ...
  • “Everyone looks for their own onion to cry.” ...
  • “We are as small as our joy and as big as our pain.” ...
  • “Who does not live to serve does not serve to live.” ...
  • “Tell me who you are with and I will tell you who you are”

What are some Spanish filler words? ›

The Most Common Spanish Filler Words
  • En plan and es como (“about” and “it's like”) ...
  • Entonces and así que (“then” and “so”) ...
  • Pues and bueno (“well” and “good”) ...
  • ¿Sabes? (“You know?”) ...
  • Digo (“I mean”) ...
  • O sea (“that is”) ...
  • Básicamente (“basically”) ...
  • Etcétera, y demás, y tal (“et cetera,” “and so on,” “and so forth”)
Jan 19, 2023

What are the 10 most common Spanish verbs? ›

In order of frequency, they are: ser, estar, haber, poder, tener, hacer, decir, deber, ir, ver, parecer and dar. Similar to English, the conjugations of almost all of these most frequent verbs are irregular, which means they don't always follow normal conjugation rules.

What does Chulo mean in Spanish slang? ›


In Mexican Spanish, chulo/chula is the word you're looking to use if you find something (or someone, but in a kind, non-sexual nor romantic way) really pretty. Use it to compliment a part of someone's outfit or to tell someone you think they look cute today.

What are 5 Spanish words commonly used in America? ›

More Spanish Words In English
  • bonanza — “prosperity”
  • cafeteria — from cafetería (“coffee store”)
  • incommunicado — estar incomunicado (“to be isolated”)
  • jade — from piedra de ijada (“stone of flank”)
  • nada — “nothing”
  • platinum — from platino (little silver)
  • pronto — “hurry up!”
Aug 11, 2021

What is the hardest word to know in Spanish? ›

However, the following are some of the most challenging and longest Spanish words:
  • Otorrinolaringólogo (otolaryngologist) ...
  • Constitucionalmente (constitutionally)
  • Desafortunadamente (unfortunately) ...
  • Desconsoladamente (inconsolably)
  • Fuertemente (heavily)
  • Tradicionalmente (traditionally) ...
  • Tristemente (sadly) ...
  • 100.

What are the 50 idiomatic expressions and their meaning? ›

50 popular idioms to sound like a native speaker
Kill two birds with one stoneSolve two problems at once / with one action
Leave no stone unturnedDo everything possible to achieve a goal
Let the cat out of the bagAccidentially reveal a secret
Make a long story shortCome to the point
46 more rows
Mar 20, 2017

Does Spanish have a lot of idioms? ›

The Spanish language uses many idioms. Some of them have a direct equivalent in other languages, whilst some of them are almost impossible to translate.

What are 10 famous quotes? ›

Famous quotes in English
That's one small step for a man, a giant leap for mankind.Neil ArmstrongEnglish
The love of money is the root of all evil.the BibleGreek
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.Franklin D. RooseveltEnglish
The truth will set you free.the BibleGreek
54 more rows

What is a famous Chicano quote? ›

If you have an opportunity to make things better and you don't, then you are wasting your time on Earth.” – Roberto Clemente. “Your great strength is knowing who you are.” – Oscar de la Renta. “The Latina in me is an ember that blazes forever.” – Sonia Sotomayor. “Action is the antidote to despair.” – Joan Baez.

What is Mexico's motto in Spanish? ›

Mexico: No official motto, The Homeland is First (Spanish: La Patria Es Primero) is the motto of the Mexican Congress.

What is the most Mexican thing to say? ›

Most Common Mexican Slang Words:
  • ¡Aguas!: Watch out!
  • Sale: Alright.
  • Chido: Awesome.
  • Padre: Cool.
  • Ándale: Come on.
  • Avísame: Let me know!
  • Órale: All right.
  • Porfis: Please.

What are 20 Spanish words? ›

Basic Spanish Words
  • Hola (Hello)
  • Adios (Goodbye)
  • Gracias (Thank you)
  • Por favor (Please)
  • Si (Yes)
  • Claro (Of course)
  • No (No)
  • Amor (Love)
Aug 25, 2021

What is Spanish slang for stuff? ›

Vaina - The English word of it would be “thing” or “stuff”, and in Chile it can be used to mean almost anything. It could also make reference to a situation, or action.

What are some big Spanish words? ›

Here are the next 15 longest words for your perusal!
  • Esternocleidomastoideo. Letters: 22. ...
  • Electroencefalografía. Letters: 21. ...
  • Otorrinolaringológico. Letters: 21. ...
  • Internacionalización. Letters: 20. ...
  • Electroencefalograma. Letters: 20. ...
  • Otorrinolaringología. Letters: 20. ...
  • Electrocardiografía. Letters: 19. ...
  • Desafortunadamente. Letters: 18.
Feb 9, 2023

What is the most inspiring quote ever? ›

What is the most inspiring quote ever?
  • “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” – Confucius.
  • “Magic is believing in yourself. ...
  • “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – Walt Disney.
  • “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure…
Aug 19, 2021

What is a famous quote about success in Spanish? ›

If you are wondering about how to reach success, you just have to pay attention to this piece of advice: El éxito ocurre cuando tus sueños son más grandes que tus excusas. The literal significance of this phrase is 'Success happens when your dreams are bigger than your excuses'.

What are the 3 main verbs in Spanish? ›

First things first: there are three classes of Spanish verbs: -ar verbs, -er verbs, and -ir verbs.

What does Tambien mean? ›

Yo is the first-person pronoun “I” or “me.” The adverb también (“also, too”) is a contraction of the words tan, meaning “as,” and bién, meaning “good.” Yo también literally translates to “I also” in English.

What is Papi Chulo for girl? ›

Young women who identify as Hispanic sometimes refer to their male partner or love interest as papi chulo in colloquial speech and writing, including on social media. The Spanish plural of papi chulo is papis chulos, but papi chulos is commonly used as a plural in English.

Is Papi Chulo a bad word? ›

It was used to refer to an effeminate man or pimp in the 1980s. By the 1990s, this term was used to refer to low-income gangsters, low-income immigrant laborers and Mexican-Americans. This was used as a very derogatory term.

Can I call my boyfriend Papi Chulo? ›

Papi Chulo

This directly translates to “handsome daddy” but is used by partners to refer to their boyfriends as an attractive man. It is a way to call your boyfriend handsome and to let him know you find him very attractive.

What do Spanish call America? ›

Although it is not viewed favorably by the RAE, the word norteamericano y Norteamérica (North America) are widely used by Spanish-speakers to refer to the Americans and the United States respectively. Indeed, in Spanish Norteamérica is the sub-continent that includes the countries of Mexico, United States and Canada.

What is the easiest Spanish to understand? ›

One of the best Spanish to learn is the Guatemalan dialect. Even though Guatemalans speak faster than Colombians, they sound highly neutral, natural, and clear.

What is the hardest tense to learn in Spanish? ›

1. Subjunctive. This might be one of the hardest things to get. After being bombarded with tens of new tenses (in the indicative), you learn there's a whole other dimension of tenses called the subjuntivo.

What's the hardest sentence to say in Spanish? ›

1) Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal.

This tongue twister focuses on the “tr” sound. The “r” sound is pretty difficult for new Spanish speakers – and even more difficult is the “rr” sound. Try your best to say this tongue twister yourself first, then listen to the audio to see if you got it right.

What's the hardest language English or Spanish? ›

Basically, Spanish is a lovely and perfectly phonetic language. English, on the other hand, is VERY hard to read, pronounce, and write. Spanish has 25 phonemes; it's generally agreed that English has 44 phonemes. (Phonemes are speech sounds.)

What is the official Spanish motto? ›

Plus ultra (Latin: [pluːs ˈʊltraː], Spanish: [plus ˈultɾa], English: "Further beyond") is a Latin phrase and the national motto of Spain.

What are some cool catchphrases? ›

Famous catchy slogan examples
  • De Beers “A Diamond is Forever.” ...
  • Dunkin Donuts “America Runs on Dunkin.” ...
  • Mastercard “There Are Some Things Money Can't Buy. ...
  • KFC “Finger-Lickin' Good.” ...
  • Bounty “Quicker Picker Upper.” ...
  • Disney “Happiest Place on Earth.” ...
  • Maybelline “Maybe She's Born With It… Maybe It's Maybelline.”
Mar 31, 2021

What is a famous short quote? ›

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see." "If you're going through hell, keep going." "There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true." "The price of greatness is responsibility."

What are the 21 flags that speak Spanish? ›

There are 21 individual flags of the following Spanish-speaking countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, España, Guatemala, Guinea Ecuatorial, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, República Dominicana, Uruguay, Venezuela.

What are Spanish words for quote? ›

  • presupuesto, el ~ (m) Noun.
  • oferta, la ~ (f) Noun.
  • cotización, la ~ (f) Noun.

What is a catchword catchphrase? ›

catch·​phrase ˈkach-ˌfrāz. ˈkech- Synonyms of catchphrase. 1. : a word or expression that is used repeatedly and conveniently to represent or characterize a person, group, idea, or point of view.

What are hot phrases? ›

Hot words and hot phrases are words and phrases that tend to provoke emotional reactions in other people — in this case, in your customer.

What is the best quote ever said? ›

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” “This above all: to thine own self be true.” “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.” “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

What are 3 meaningful quotes? ›

Short motivational quotes
  • “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” — ...
  • “Opportunities don't happen, you create them.” — ...
  • “Love your family, work super hard, live your passion.” — ...
  • “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” —
Dec 1, 2022

What is the most powerful motivational quote? ›

“The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.” Don't always be in competition with others. If you constantly compare yourself to others you'll either look down on them or be jealous. Remember that the only person you should strive to be better than is yourself.


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