If you have been frequenting the italki articles section and you happen to have read some of my articles, then you probably know by now that:
- I love languages.
- I really think they can make a difference in your speech. Culture comes with languages, there are a lot of things involved and they vary from country to country.
That is why today I am going to show you some sentences that are really common in Spain, which is why I called today’s article “Sentences Made In Spain”. As usual I hope they put a smile on your face since some of these sentences will seem strange to you, so hopefully it will make you laugh.
So if you are ready let’s get the learning going.
1. Ser, coser y cantar
- Ser, coser y cantar.
- To be, to sew, and to sing.
We use this phrase to say that something is really easy.
Example: If you have a project for a big company at your job and you think this is pretty easy and a friend asks you:
- ¿Qué tal ese gran proyecto para el que estás trabajando? ¿Estás estresado?. (How is that big project you are working on? Are you stressed?).
- Para nada, estaba preocupado porque pensaba que iba a ser muy difícil, pero resulta que es coser y cantar. (Not at all, I thought it was going to be very difficult, but it turned out to be a breeze).
Note: Like in English, we have a lot of sentences with this meaning, you probably have even used or heard of some of them, such as: “ser pan comido” or “estar chupado”…
2. Se me ha ido el santo al cielo
Sorry but I can’t even try to translate this one. It would be something like: “My saint has gone to heaven” which does not make any sense at all.
The English equivalent meaning could be when you’re spacing out or blanking out.
We use this phrase when our mind goes blank. We know what we are doing or saying and then suddenly we can’t think about it anymore, does this sound familiar?
Example: You are heading to a room to pick something up, and suddenly as you cross the door of the room and…your mind goes blank!
You might look confused, so, if someone asked you:
- “¿Qué pasa María, buscas algo?”. (What’s going on María, are you looking for something?).
- “Mmm…. curioso, venía a por algo pero se me ha ido el santo al cielo, ahora no me acuerdo”. (Mmmm….funny! I came for something but my mind went blank, I can’t remember).
3. Tener mucho morro
- Tener mucho morro.
- To have a lot of mouth.
Another interesting one, and if you have read my previous articles, then this might sound familiar as I mentioned it when I explained the expression “tener más cara que espalda”. Why? Because it means the same, the meaning is “to be cheeky”.
Example: If one of your friends magically vanishes or has the perfect excuse every time it's time to pay, you could say:
- “Miguel tiene mucho morro, siempre encuentra una excusa para no pagar”. (Miguel is very cheeky, he always finds an excuse not to pay).
4. Estar hecho un cristo
Another one that I am not going to try to translate into English.
The meaning of this phrase is something similar to “you look like hell” or “you are a mess” in English.
Example: If you grew up in Spain, then after an evening of playing outside you would have returned home a bit dirty, so probably you would have listened to your granny saying:
- “¡Mirate! ¿Pero qué has estado haciendo que estás hecho un Cristo?”. (Look at you! What have you been doing? You are a mess!).
Note: It is also used when you are an adult and you are not looking quite right for the occasion but then it is used with the verb “IR”.
Example: If you go to a wedding and see someone is not dressed up for the occasion, you will probably comment about it with your friend, by saying:
- “¿Viste a Natalia? Iba hecha un cristo, no creo que fuera apropiado para una boda”. (Did you see Natalia? She was a mess, I do not think it was appropriate for a wedding).
Or if your friend has an interview for a really important job but you do not think he is dressed properly, you could say:
“¿Vas a ir así a la entrevista? Por favor cámbiate, ¡Vas hecho un cristo!”. (Are you going to go like that to the interview? Please change, you are a mess!”).
5. Ponerse las botas
- Ponerse las botas.
- To put your boots on.
Surprisingly, this phrase has a similar meaning in English, or at least I think so. It is when you have more than enough of something to satisfy yourself of something, normally we use it in a food context, but can also be used in business, personal life, etc.
Example: if you go to a nice restaurant with a good friend, you really enjoyed the dinner and when it is time for dessert, you could say:
- “Lo siento, no tengo espacio para más, me he puesto las botas durante la cena”. (I am sorry, I do not have any space left, I filled my boots during dinner).
Second example: someone you know is doing really good in business, so you can explain to your friends:
- “Jacinto tiene un negocio muy bueno. He oído que está haciendo un montón de ventas, se debe de estar poniendo las botas”. (Jacinto has a really good business, I heard he is making a lot of sales, he must be filling up his boots).
Notes: An equivalent of this phrase could be “ponerse morado”. Also, “un montón” means a lot of.
6. No dar palo al agua
- No dar palo al agua.
- Not giving a stick to water.
This saying is weird, isn’t it? But… ok… you know that this is not what it really means, right?
We use this sentence when we are surprised about how lazy someone else is. A similar expression in English could be: “to not lift a finger”.
Example: you are surprised one of your colleagues at work is still working there, because he does nothing or very little. You could comment about this with another colleague, by saying:
- “Me sorprende que todavía conserve el trabajo, no da palo al agua”. (I am surprised he’s still at this job since he doesn’t lift a finger).
7. Irse por los cerros de Úbeda
- Irse por los cerros de Úbeda.
- To go through the hills of Ubeda.
This phrase is used when someone does not get straight to the point. Instead, they circle around it. In English, it could be something like “go wander off the point”.
Example: if you are asking for an explanation regarding why something has not been done at work, and your employees/colleagues do not give you a straight answer, you will say:
- “Eso no es lo que he preguntado, no te vayas por los cerros de Úbeda”. (That is not what I asked, do not wander off the point).
8. Llevarse el gato al agua
- Llevarse el gato al agua.
- To take the cat to the water.
Here is another expression that might sound strange when you say it (or if you’re not familiar with it). This phrase means “to win” or “to get your way”. This phrase might be heavily used when talking about sports, or talking with a friend about where to go for dinner… anything!
Example: If you watched a football match between Manchester and Barcelona, and it was a good match for Manchester but they did not win, you could comment the match by saying:
- “El Manchester jugó muy bien contra el Barcelona, pero al final no pudo llevarse el gato al agua”. (Manchester played really well, but in the end they could not win against Barcelona).
Example two: If you are talking about what to do this weekend with a friend and she wants to go to the cinema but you want to go to the theatre, you could say:
- “No sé porqué discutimos, ya sabemos que al final vamos hacer lo que tú quieras, siempre te llevas el gato al agua”. (I don’t know why we are discussing this, we know we will end up doing what you want, you always get your way).
9. Colgar el sanbenito
This phrase is a difficult one to translate so let’s go straight to the explanation.
We use “colgar el sanbenito” when we brand someone of being something, or to take the blame… it is kind of putting a stigma on someone.
Example: one of your friends did something stupid once, like throwing beers one night and from then moving forward you all think he is clumsy. Obviously you think that he is not allowed to hold down more than one beer. He would complain by saying:
- “¡No soy torpe! Solo se me cayeron las bebidas una vez, le podía haber pasado a cualquiera pero me colgasteis el sanbenito”. (I am not clumsy, I just threw the beers once, it could have happened to anyone but you branded me).
10. Llevarse a alguien al huerto
- Llevarse a alguien al huerto.
- To take someone to the orchard.
This phrase is used when we get our way, and sometimes we even cheat to get our own way. It’s kind of like “to dupe or to swindle”.
Example: you have a friend that asked you for some money before and he made up some story as an excuse. Now he is asking you again, by doing the same thing, so you will say as a way of negation:
- “Lo siento, a mi no me vas a llevar al huerto otra vez, ya te dejé dinero una vez y no me lo devolviste”. (I am sorry but you are not going to swindle me again, I gave you money once and you did not give it back).
Pick one of the phrases above and practice writing a sentence in a situation of when you can use it. Leave a comment so I can check and make sure you understood the meaning. I will go through them all and let you know if you got it or you need a second read.
Also, I would love to know if you know any other different sentences that mean the same that one of the above. For instance, phrases 2, 3 and 5 have other ways to express the same idea.
Have a good day and I will write to you soon.