Spanish people are weird, and sometimes our sentences are equally pretty strange to match! Have you ever thought that yourself too? If so, then keep reading and check these sentences out - they will back your opinions up.


Hola amigos. Here I am once again in order to bring you some Spanish “goodies”. Today is a big one: I will be talking about 8 weird Spanish sentences that Spaniards use so often that every learner should know them.


Spanish people (myself included) use a lot of jokes, but we also say things that we really mean sincerely just for the heck of it. But as a learner, this can at times cause problems for you. Sometimes, you will listen and have a smile on your face but actually be wondering why your friend is suddenly talking about beards, dwarfs, and other weird things. Keep calm - I’ve got you covered with this article.


So the eight weird sentences that I am going to cover are:


  1. A buenas horas, mangas verdes
  2. Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos
  3. Me crecen los enanos
  4. Cuando las barbas del vecino veas cortar, pon las tuyas a remojar
  5. En todas partes cuecen habas
  6. Éramos pocos y parió la abuela



A buenas horas, mangas verdes (Good timing, green sleeves)


We use this sentence when something has happened or something was said too late. Sometimes, we just use the first part of the sentence, a buenas horas, to express that something was too late. In case some of you were wondering, the “green sleeves” refers to Santa Hermandad, a historical group of soldiers whose uniforms bore green sleeves and who, apparently, often arrived too late.




Imagine that you ask your friend a favour, to borrow a book or a movie, and after what seems like asking for it 100 times and not receiving it, you decide to buy it for yourself. Just as this happens, your friend brings it. You might say the following:


  • a buenas horas....Me lo he comprador 
  • Good timing… I have already bought it!



Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos (Raise ravens and they’ll pluck out your eyes)


This is an idiom that conveys advice to someone who behaves extremely nicely. Though it’s ok to be a good person, help others, and be generous, it is also sometimes the case that the people you try to help may be ungrateful and not return the favour. For instance, they might say “no” or even use everything you taught them to attack you (though maybe this is a particularly Spanish mentality). Better safe than sorry!




Imagine that you have been helping a friend out with a speech, and when the speech is a success, your friend does not even say to you “thank you". This can be a common situation that requires you to lament and say:


  • cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos.



Me crecen los enanos (Dwarves grow up!)


The full sentence that this phrase comes from will give you some perspective on it’s meaning: the long version includes empiezo un circo... (I start a circus...). Imagine you are ready to set up a circus (you’ve got lions, clowns, acrobats, basically everything), but when you are about to open up, your dwarves suddenly start to grow! This doesn’t bold well for a circus. And that is exactly the kind of situation that this sentence describes: being a very unfortunate situation. It is quite commonly heard as a way to express how bad your luck is.




Imagine that you moved into what seems like the perfect flat. You are excited about it until you start finding faults, like a leaking tap and lack of hot water. Well, you’d better not start a circus or te crecerán los enanos.



Cuando las barbas del vecino veas cortar, pon las tuyas a remojar (When you see your neighbor’s beard being cut, start getting yours wet)


This weird sentence is also meant as a piece of advice. When you see that something is happening, you get ready for it so it doesn’t catch you by surprise! To sum up, get ready for any situation once you’ve see it coming.




Let’s say your workplace has started to let people go. Luckily, you are not one of them. But, you have decided to start applying for a new job just incase. Why? Because cuando las barbas de tu vecino veas cortar, pon las tuyas a remojar.



En todas partes cuecen habas (Everyone cook beans everywhere)


We use this phrase to say that no one is free from trouble or guilt; that no one is really an exception. Again, this is a short version of en todas las partes cuecen habas y en la mia a calderadas (Everyone cooks beans and in my house we cook in pots). It literally means that in my house we cook lots of beans, as a way of expressing the fact that everyone has difficulties and problem and also that a person’s own problems always seem like the largest.




If your friend tells you something in confidence (like, for example, that his husband is going to lose his job), you might tell them not to worry because your husband lost his job a while ago too. Your friend is surprised that you never said anything: en todos los sitios cuecen habas.



Éramos pocos y parió la abuela (We were not enough and grandma gave birth)


Here is another fantastic example of not saying exactly what we mean. Now it’s time to play with your imagination, as this phrase can not only be applied to people but also to unexpected occurrences: in particular occurrences that make things even worse.




If you went to a party full of people you don’t know well and suddenly your ex walks in, this is the perfect moment to say éramos pocos y parió la abuela!


Let us know in the comments below which of the phrases you find the weirdest or even the funniest. Or if you are brave enough, share when you read one of them you thought it meant something totally opposite to its actual meaning! You can also tell us if you managed to guess the meaning too. I am looking forward to reading from you and your opinions!




I agree with you that these sentences are weird. This means that practice is the only way you to getting used to them and not feel like a bicho raro (weird bug) -- another strange Spanish term that I will leave for another day.


Every time you use these phrases, simply practice them until they just fly off your tongue. If you want to leave a comment, I will be more than happy to check and see if you have used the sentences properly.


Finally! This was your dose of Spanish for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that you’d learned something new.


!Feliz dia! Hasta pronto


Hero image by Joshua Reddekopp (CC0 1.0)