September 9, 2020 · ,

15 Must-Know Spanish Idiomatic Expressions

Everyday expressions to help you express yourself in Spanish


must-know idiomatic expressions in spanish

Idiomatic expressions exist in every language and they pop up in writing and in conversations. Identifying them and using them properly can pose a challenge and that’s why we present you with a list of the most common and useful ones

1. Acá hay gato encerrado – There is something fishy/shady going on here

Ella dijo que no tenía más dinero pero me compró unos regalos caros. Acá hay gato encerrado.She said she didn’t have any money left but she bought me some expensive gifts. There’s something fishy going on.
Literally: There’s a locked cat

2. Con las manos en la masaTo get caught red handed

La policía encontró a los ladrones adentro del banco con las manos en la masa.The police caught the thieves redhanded inside the bank.
Literally: with one’s hands in the dough (uncooked bread)

3. Echar leña al fuego – To add fuel to the fire

Aún no le digas las malas noticias. Tiene un mal día. No eches leña al fuego.Don’t tell him the bad news yet. He’s having a bad day. Don’t add fuel to the fire.
Literally: to throw firewood into the fire

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4. Metí la pata – I screwed up/ I messed up

Metí la pata y revelé mi proximo proyecto antes de terminarlo.I screwed up and reveled my next project before finishing it.
Literally: I got my foot stuck

5. Estar entre la espada y la pared – To be stuck between a rock and a hard place

Mi jefe me presiona pero no quiero traicionar a mis compañeros de trabajo. Estoy entre la espada y la pared.My boss is pressuring me but I don’t want to betray my coworkers. I’m stuck between a roxk and a hard place.
Literally: to be between the sword and the wall

6. Matar dos pájaros de un tiro – Kill two birds with one stone

Vamos al supermercado y a la farmacia y así matamos a dos pájaros de un tiro.Let’s go to the supermarket and the drug store so we kill two birds with one stone.
Literally: to kill two birds with one shot

7. Te viene como anillo al dedo – It was just what I needed

Me vino como anillo al dedo hablar con tu amiga. Me aclaró muchas dudas.Talking to your friend was just what I needed. She cleared a lot of doubts I had.
Literally: like a ring to a finger

8. Soplar y hacer botella – As easy as it seems

Deben tener paciencia. Organizar un evento tan grande no es soplar y hacer botella.You have to be patient. Organizing a big event is not as easy as it may seem.
Literally: to blow and make a bottle (which is ironically very hard to do)

9. Pan comido – Piece of cake

La tarea de hoy es pan comido.Today’s homework is a piece of cake.
Literally: eaten bread

10. Ahogarse en un vaso de agua – To make a mountain out of a molehill

No te ahorgues en un vaso de agua. No es tan grave. Juntas lo podemos solucionar.Don’t make a mountin out of a molehill. It’s not such a big deal. Together we can figure it out.
Literally: to drown in a glass of water

11. Está para chuparse los dedos – Finger licking good

Este sándwich está para chuparse los dedos.This sandwich is finger-licking good!
Literally: it’s so good you want to lick your fingers

12. Al pie de la letra – To the letter

¡Seguí las instrucciones al pie de la letra y no funciona!I followed the instructions to the lettar and it’s not working!
Literally: the foot of the letter

13. El mundo es un pañuelo – It’s a small world

Cuando me fui a vivir a Brasil, descubrí que a mis vecinos ya los habíamos conocido en un crucero hace muchos años. El mundo es un pañuelo.When I moved to Brazil, I realized that we had met our neighbours several years back in a cruise. It’s a small world.
Literally: the world is a hanklerchief

14. Estar en su salsa – To be in your element

Cuando mi hijo se mete en el agua está en su salsa. Es muy buen nadador.When my son gets in the water he is in his element. He is a very good swimmer.
Literally: to be in your sauce

15. Consultar con la almohada – To sleep on it

No sé si hacer la inversión o no. Creo que lo voy a consultar con la almohada.I don’t know if I should invest or not. I think I’m going to sleep on it.
Literally: to discuss it with your pillow

Check out this guide on some other common expressions and their translation!

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