How English sayings sound in Spanish Have you ever asked yourself how the English sayings would sound in Spanish, or even if Spanish would have an idiom that mean the same, we think alike then :) That is why I have put together a few of the most popular idioms in English and their Spanish equivalent.

Sometimes English and Spanish are not that far apart and we have similar sayings, sometimes even they can be translated literally (not many, unfortunately!) and of course some other times they do not have anything in common, let’s have a look to a few English sayings and how they are used in Spanish.



How English sayings  sound in Spanish

First of all, let me explain you what a saying is, in Spain we called them in different ways, all meaning the same, “expresiones, refranes, dichos…” they all are known as part of the  day a day wisdom, and not shown in many language books,and they can show how involve and passionate you are about a language,  so open your eyes and be my guest to take your Spanish to the next level.


1-Half a loaf is better than none

This one is a good example that sometimes English and Spanish has nothing in common, in Spain we would say “a falta de pan, buenas son tortas” and we will use it in the same case, if you haven’t got what you wanted, be happy with the things you have, future will times better times 🙂
















Example-If you join an academy to learn Spanish and you were expecting to have a Spanish native and instead of that your teacher is not a native but someone who has lived in spain for a few years, you will probably moan first and day accept it and say

-Estaba esperando un profesor nativo, pero habla bastante bien y conoce la cultura, así que supongo que a falta de pan buenas son tortas-“ I was expecting a native, bue he speaks quite well and knows the culture so I guess half loaf is better than none”

2-All cats are grey in the dark

Opposite the previous one, this one is exactly the same in Spanish and can be translated literally as “todos los gatos son grises en la oscuridad”, but we change it a bit and say “de noche todos los gatos son pardos” it is used to say that everyone look similar or even good at night so watch out! And do not make decision at night, wait until next morning.
















Example-If you have a friend who met a guys last Saturday, and she is telling you how amazing he is, you probably want to warn her

-Espera a quedar con él otro día, ya sabes que de noche todos los gatos son pardos-“Wait until you meet him again, you know that all cats are grey in the dark.”

3-Nothing venture, nothing gained

Pretty much the same in Spanish, but again with a small twist “quien no arriesga no gana” you can get anything you want,you just need to take the risk, sometimes the reward is worthy.
















Example-your friend is thinking about starting up a designer business, and she is really good at it, but she is not sure if she should quit her job as that scares her, you could encourage her

-Eres muy buena, deberías empezar tu propio negocio, !arriesgate! Ya sabes que quien no arriesga no gana-“You are really good, you should start your business, you know…nothing venture, nothing gain”

Most pessimistic people would end the sentences saying –“quien no arriesga no gana” o “lo pierde todo”-or “they lose it all”, so they might be your friend’s answer to the sentences above…according to each personality…

4-An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Exactly that, “una  manzana al día, de medico te ahorraría” and it means…that according to the popular wisdom  that chose the healthy options it will get you a healthy life.

















Example-you have a friend (we all do) that goes to the doctor quite often, so you can give him the advice

-una manzana al día, de médica te ahorraría-“ an apple a day keeps the doctor away”

5-To an unrequited love, absence and oblivion

Quite accurate as well “ a un amor mal correspondido, ausencia y olvido” I think that says everything, someone that does not love you back….should be forgotten (and the sooner, the better-“cuanto antes mejor”)
















Example-your friend is kind of depressed because her boyfriend split with her, you would try to cheer her up saying

-Salimos este fin de semana y ya verás como te olvidas de todo, a amor mal correspondido lo mejor es ausencia y olvido-“We go out this weekend and you will see you will forget everything, to unrequited love, absence and oblivion.”

6-When one is tired all beds are good

The exact translation would be something like, “ cuando uno está cansado todas las camas son buenas,” we change it a bit just to make it sound a bit more flash than it is 🙂 “a buen sueño no hay mala cama”, used that when you are tired you could sleep anywhere, or at least to fall sleep, I am not sure if you could stay all night.

















Example-when you are really tired after a long trip and you arrive to a place that looks anything except what you would love to spend the night, you could say

-Yo espera una cama algo más cómodo, pero a bue sueño no hay mala cama-“I was expecting a more confortable bed but when one is tired all beds are good”

#tip-you can also say here “a falta de pan buenas son  tortas” 🙂

7-You scratch my back, I will scratch yours.

You can translated as “si tú me rascas la espalda, yo te rascaré la tuya”, but this one changes a bit and we say “hoy por ti, mañana por mi” and yeah, you got it pretty used when we do things from the good from out hearts J nah…all the opposite, it is pretty common to let the other people know, that you are making them a favour but they owe you one…

















Example-when you need to take the day off and someone at work is doing your shift, you would be really grateful (thinking they are doing it because they are so nice ) but they probably surprise you saying

-No te preocupes, hoy por ti mañana por mi-“Do not worry,you scratch my back, I will scratch yours”

You will know then that you owe them one and they will wait for that favour back

8-Actions speak louder than words

“las accciones hablan más que las palabras”, but once again we like to add a small twist and say “los hechos valen más que las palabras”

















Example-when you are a kid and do something bad then you go to your mum and say how sorry you are and how much you love her, in Spain probably your mother would say

-No digas que me quieres ahora, simplemente portate bien, los hechos valen más que las palabras-“do not say you love me now, just behave, actions speak louder than words.”

#note in some parts in Spain is common to hear instead “hechos son amores y no buenas razones”

You know what comes now, before you leave me….HOMEWORK as usual, a sentences, I know there is a lot of info in the post but if you at least take away one of the sentences each time your fluency will improve in no time, promise! You just need to make the effort, so make the commitment, pick one and write a sentences with it in the comments below,  before you close this page.

And that is all for now guys,  now it is your turn,  I would love to hear from you

-Have you hear any of the sayings above (in Spanish or in English)

-Do you have a favourite one?

-Which one do you think is more useful?


#onemorething- If you want to know more about Spanish idioms check out Spanish connection e-book on amazon, with over 140 idioms with the English translation and examples on how to use them on amazon, for just $2.99 this weekend 🙂*Version*=1&*entries*=0


#lastthing– if you have any saying you like to use or you are curious how would it sound in Spanish, leave a comment below and I will get back to you with the Spanish equivalent.


Have a good day, and if you enjoy the blog, share it with your “amigos”


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One Response to “How English sayings sound in Spanish”

  1. Gilbert

    Here is a link that will fish up nearly 10,000 Spanish-English idioms although some of them are outdated (1887)

    Anyone with other links to Spanish expressions would be greatly appreciated. I find them a sort of obscure poetry. Many thanks for today’s link, I loved it.



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