If you are a Spanish student and you want to sound like a native, you have to know the most common and useful idioms in Spanish that we use in Spain. Some of these Spanish idiomatic expressions have similar meanings in English and others are very different.
In Spain we have hundreds of Spanish idioms and expressions, however, there are some Spanish idioms and proverbs that are used in day-to-day conversation and others that are not used as much today, so I want to focus on teaching you the most common idioms in Spanish, and I am going to do it in a visual and effective way with lots of visual examples so that you can remember them for a long time!
Spanish Idioms with “SER”
SER PAN COMIDO
This is one of the most common idioms in Spanish that is used to say that something is very easy to do!
Literally means “eaten bread”
This expression is used to express energy and confidence because it is referring to something that is very easy to do and will not cause major problems.
If we look for the equivalence idiomatic expression in English that would be: “it’s a piece of cake”
SER UN SOL
This is one of the most positive and grateful Spanish idioms. It’s normally used to express affection or appreciation towards someone
Literally means “to be a sun”
It is generally a compliment that one person does to another after receiving a favor from this person.
In the picture we can see a girl who seems to be overwhelmed because she has to move a very heavy object but has the help of the other girl who offers to help her, so she is using this expression “ser un sol” to thank her for helping her, praising her attitude
Spanish Idioms with “ESTAR“
ESTAR SIN BLANCA
This Spanish idiom is used to indicate that we have no money at the moment
In English the equivalent of this expression would be “to be skint”
In the picture there are two women in a shop, mother and daughter. The daughter stares at a beautiful dress that costs 57 euros, while the mother when she sees it, she says the expression “estar sin blanca” referring to the fact that she is not carrying any money at the moment
“Blanca” it was a very, very old coin, prior to “Felipe II”. It was a coin of very little value. Since “la blanca” was a coin of very little value, the expression “estar sin blanca” is equivalent to saying that it does not have even the least valuable coin
This Spanish idiomatic expression is just the opposite of “estar sin blanca”. It means “to have a lot of money” We use the verb “estar” because it is a temporary action since you can have a lot of money today but maybe not in the future
Literally means “I am lined”
If we look for the equivalence idiomatic expression in English that would be: “I am loaded”
“Pasta” besides being a meal is also how “money” is colloquially called in Spain
In the picture there is a happy and smiley man literally saying “I do not need more money, I am loaded!
ESTAR HASTA EN LA SOPA
This is a very common Spanish idiom to indicate that “someone or something is in everywhere“
Literally means “to be even in the soup”
As you can see in the picture, Alberto’s hypothetical show is so famous that I appear in all the media: in the newspaper, on television and also on radio. That´s why the lady who is reading the newspaper is that surprised!
If you want to learn more common idioms with the verb “estar” you can check this post:
Common Spanish idioms with “TENER”
There are quite a few Spanish idioms with this verb, however in this post I am going to focus on the three most important
If you want to know how to use this verb correctly in Spanish you can go to this post where I explain “how to use tener in Spanish”
TENER MEMORIA DE PEZ
This is a very funny and popular Spanish idiom, it means “to have a bad memory“
Literally means “to have fish memory”
In some other languages the same expression is used but changing the animal. It is scientifically proven that fish have a very very short memory, that is why the origin of this expression
In the image I have used Nemo as the protagonist of the expression since he does not even remember his own name
TENER MALA LECHE
I am sure you have ever heard this expression since it is super popular in Spain!
This expression means that “someone has a bad temper“
Literally means “to have bad milk”
The literal meaning has nothing to do with the real meaning. In some Spanish idiomatic expressions like this one, it is difficult to guess the meaning because it makes practically no sense.
This expression is also used with the verb “estar”: ESTAR DE MALA LECHE …. but in this case it means that in a specific moment you are “in a bad mood” .
TENER MALA LECHE refers to the permanent characteristics of a person who is muddy
NO TENER PELOS EN LA LENGUA
Spanish Idioms with “PONERSE”
The verb “ponerse” is a verb of change. This verb indicates a change from one state to another. There are 2 very interesting Spanish idiomatic expressions with this verb, Let’s see them!
PONERSE COMO UN TOMATE
This is one of my students’ favorite Spanish idioms. It means “to blush”
Literally means “to turn into a tomato”
As you can see in the image there is a conversation between two girls in a bar where one tells the other that someone “se puso como un tomate” (he got like a tomato) referring to a boy, maybe a friend, who had a situation of shame
This expression means to eat a lot.
Literally means “to get purple”
We also use other common idiom in Spain to refer that someone is eating a lot: “ponerse las botas”
If we look for the equivalence idiomatic expression in English that would be “to eat like a horse”.
Other common idioms in Spanish
TIRAR LA CAÑA
This is one of the most common and funny idiomatic expressions in Spanish, especially young people use it a lot when talking with friends.
This Spanish idiom means: “the action of flirting with someone by means of indirect or direct suggestions”
Literally means “to throw the fishing rod”
In the picture Juan appears fishing, but not exactly fish. To say that Juan is trying to conquer Ana, in Spanish we would say “le está tirando la caña” which means: he is trying to flirt with her
This expression means: “to reject someone’s love proposal”
Literally means “to give pumpkins”
In English, the equivalent it would be “To give the brushoff”
In the picture there is a girl depressed because she is receiving the pumpkins, at the same time that a person tells her: “Lo siento, tengo novia” that means “sorry I have a girlfriend” Therefore she is being rejected, or what is the same: “Le están dando calabazas”
COSTAR UN RIÑÓN
This Spanish idiom means that something is extremely expensive
Literally means “to cost a kidney”
In other languages, such as English, they choose other parts of the body to express that something costs a lot “it cost an arm and a leg”
In Spain, we also say “cuesta un ojo de la cara” (an eye of the face)
If there is any Spanish idiom that you have not understood or you want to share another that does not appear here, leave me a comment, I will be happy to help you!