Idiomatic expressions in Spanish

Idiomatic Expressions in Spanish

Idiomatic Expressions

First of all, what is an “idiomatic expression”?

An “idiomatic expression” is a phrase in a language that wouldn’t make sense if taken literally. We take for granted that the expression “to rain cats and dogs” does not refer to some feline- or canine-based precipitation because we have decided as a group that the expression has a figurative meaning, i.e., “to rain heavily.”

Learning the foundations of the language alone can be a daunting task, so anyone poised to take that next step is forced to just bite the bullet. Luckily, compared to English, Spanish is a walk in the park. It’s pan comido (eaten bread). It’s a breeze. It’s much less of an idiomatic language, and so naturally there are far fewer idioms to memorize. However, if you really want to impress your friends and sound like a native speaker, here are 10 idiomatic expressions used in everyday Spanish conversations:

Consultar la almohada (Literal translation: “To consult the pillow“)

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Meaning: Sleep on it.

Example: No se si quiero aceptar la oferta. Voy a consultar la almohada. (I don’t know if I want to accept the offer. I’m going to sleep on it.)

Caerse el cielo (Literal translation, “The sky is falling”)

Meaning:  It’s pouring rain.

Example: Se está cayendo el cielo. Trae un paraguas. (It’s pouring rain. Bring an umbrella.)

Morirse de frío (Literal translation: “To die from the cold”)

Meaning:  To be freezing cold.

Example: Está nevando y no tengo chaqueta. Me estoy muriendo de frío.(It’s snowing and I don’t have a jacket. I’m freezing.)

Tomar el pelo (Literal translation: “To grab by the hair”)

Meaning:  To play a trick on or make fun of someone (i.e., “to pull their leg”).

Example:  Te estoy tomando el pelo. Mi mamá no es de Barcelona. (I’m pulling your leg. My mom isn’t from Barcelona.)

Te comió la lengua el gato = Literal translation: The cat ate your tongue.

Meaning:  You don’t want to talk.

Example: ¿Que paso? ¿Te comió la lengua el gato? (What happened? The cat ate your tongue?)

Estar frito = Literal translation: To be fried

Meaning: To be doomed/to be in trouble

Example: Tengo un examen mañana pero no tuve tiempo de estudiar. Estoy frito. (I have a test tomorrow but didn’t have a chance to study. I’m doomed.)

Se me hace agua la boca (Literal translation, “To be mouthwatering”)

Meaning:  The food/meal is delicious.

Example: Me encanta el flan. Se me hace agua la boca. (I love custard. It makes my mouth water.)

Darle la vuelta a la tortilla (Literally, “To turn the tortilla around.”)

Meaning:  To reverse events/turn the tide

Example: El equipo le dio la vuelta a la tortilla. Empezaron la temporada muy mal pero al final ganaron el campeonato.(The team turned the tide. They started the season really badly but in the end won the championship.)

Echarle leña al fuego (Literally, “To add wood to the fire.”)

Meaning:  To make matters worse.

Example: No le digas nada a tu mamá. No le echas leña al fuego. (Don’t say anything to your mom. Don’t make matters worse.)

Meter la pata (Literally, “To put your paw inside.”)

Meaning:  To make a mistake/screw up

Example:  Metí la pata. Me olvidé de cancelar la reserva. (Literally, “I screwed up. I forgot to cancel the reservation.”)

So there you have it. 10 different idioms that will blow the minds of your Spanish-speaking friends. Sign up for Ciao Languages today and we’ll teach you many, many more. But don’t worry – this is Spanish, not English. We’ll never make your head spin.

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