14 Spanish Phrases to Sound Like a Native Speaker

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January 04, 2022
By Sarah Angela Almaden
A group of friends chatting while sitting at a table outside

Unsplash: Cristina Gottardi

Idiomatic expressions are colorful expressions that vary across cultures and different languages. Sometimes, such sayings are confusing. Other times, they are quite funny. But one thing is in common – all languages have them.

Spanish is a global language spoken by about 500 million native speakers worldwide. It’s also one of the most popular languages to learn. And the thing about Spanish is that it uses a lot of idioms. Some Spanish idioms may have direct equivalents in other languages, others may not.

Part of learning a language, like Spanish, is immersion. Nothing compares to understanding what native speakers are saying, especially when they are using idiomatic expressions. By learning these expressions, you will learn more about its culture and see a different perspective of it.

Learn our list of 14 useful Spanish idiomatic expressions that you can use in your daily interactions!

1. Ser pan comido
Literal translation – to be eaten bread
Actual meaning – to be very easy
English equivalent – to be a piece of cake

Spanish sentence – La tarea es pan comido.
English translation – The homework is a piece of cake.

2. Encontrar tu media naranja
Literal translation – to find your half orange
Actual meaning – to find the ideal partner
English equivalent – to find your better half

Spanish sentence – Ella no ha encontrado su media naranja.
English translation – She has not found her better half.

3. Dar gato por liebre
Literal translation – to give cat for hare
Actual meaning – to trick someone
English equivalent – to take for a ride

Spanish sentence – Ellos le dieron gato por liebre.
English translation – They took him for a ride.

4. Estar como una cabra
Literal translation – to be like a goat
Actual meaning – to be crazy
English equivalent – to go nuts

Spanish sentence – Está como una cabra.
English translation – He is going nuts.

5. Estar hecho un ají
Literal translation – to be made a chili pepper
Actual meaning – to be very angry
English equivalent – to be hopping mad

Spanish sentence – Está hecho un ají porque no recibió sus chocolates.
English translation – She is hopping mad because she didn’t get her chocolates.

6. Ser un bombón
Literal translation – to be a bonbon
Actual meaning – to be very attractive
English equivalent – to be an eye candy

Spanish sentence – Maxi Iglesias es un bombón.
English translation – Maxi Iglesias is an eye candy.

7. No pegar ojo
Literal translation – to not strike an eye
Actual meaning – not being able to sleep
English equivalent – not sleeping a wink

Spanish sentence – Estaba tan aterrorizada por la muñeca que no pegue un ojo.
English translation – I was so terrified of the doll that I didn’t sleep a wink.

8. Ponerse morado
Literal translation – to turn purple
Actual meaning – to eat a lot
English equivalent – to pig out

Spanish sentence – Me puse morado de comida rápida.
English translation – I pig out when I have fast food.

9. Ponerse rojo como un tomate
Literal translation – to turn red like a tomato
Actual meaning – to blush
English equivalent – blushing red as a tomato

Spanish sentence – Ella se puso roja como un tomate.
English translation – She blushed red like a tomato.

10. Ser un melón
Literal translation – to be a melon
Actual meaning – not very intelligent
English equivalent – to be a blockhead

Spanish sentence – Este robot es un melón.
English translation – This robot is a blockhead.

11. Buscar el príncipe azul
Literal translation – to look for the blue prince
Actual meaning – to look for the blue man
English equivalent – to look for Prince Charming

Spanish sentence – Gisele busca al príncipe azul.
English translation – Gisele is looking for Prince Charming.

12. Ser una rata
Literal translation – to be a rat
Actual meaning – to be stingy; to cheat
English equivalent – to be cheap

Spanish sentence – Esas personas son ratas a la hora de comprar flores.
English translation – Those people are cheap when it comes to buying flowers.

13. Se me hace agua la boca
Literal translation – it makes my mouth water
Actual meaning – the food is so good it makes the mouth water
English equivalent – to be mouthwatering

Spanish sentence – Se me hace agua la boca con tan solo pensar en el menú de la cena de esta noche.
English translation – My mouth is watering just thinking about the dinner menu tonight.

14. Tener memoria de pez
Literal translation – to have a memory of a fish
Actual meaning – to have a bad memory
English equivalent – to have a poor memory

Spanish sentence – Dory tiene memoria de pez.
English translation – Dory has a poor memory.
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