Top 5: Spanish expressions that you won’t learn in class

Have you ever been talking with Spanish friends, then heard them use a weird expression or Spanish proverb that you couldn’t understand? For example, maybe you overheard someone talking about their friend painting a monkey and thought to yourself, “Spanish people are crazy”! Well, the reason is simple! There are lots of fun and colourful expressions in the Spanish language, […]

Have you ever been talking with Spanish friends, then heard them use a weird expression or Spanish proverb that you couldn’t understand? For example, maybe you overheard someone talking about their friend painting a monkey and thought to yourself, “Spanish people are crazy”!

Well, the reason is simple! There are lots of fun and colourful expressions in the Spanish language, but the best ones are usually informal and colloquial – so you are unlikely to learn them in the classroom.

But don’t worry – we’ve gathered and explained our top 5 Spanish expressions that are commonly used in social situations by Spanish people. We’ll bet you didn’t learn these in Spanish class! (Except maybe on one of our personalised and effective Spanish courses.)

 

1. Tener mucho morro / Tener un morro que se lo pisa

Literally means: To have a long snout / To have a snout so long that you step on it!

What it expresses: In the same way that if you have a lot of cheek or nerve in English: in Spanish if you have “mucho morro” (or a lot of snout), it means you are cheeky, or shameless about taking advantage of/deceiving people. If someone is particularly cheeky (and therefore metaphorically has a particularly long snout)… the Spanish say that their snout is so long they step on it.

For example, Miguel calls José and pretends to be sick so he can cancel their plans and go out with his other friends. So “Miguel tiene un morro que se los pisa“.

English equivalent: To a have a lot of cheek

 

2. Pintar la mona

Literally means: To paint the (female) monkey

What it expresses: “Pintar la mona” is used to express that someone is doing nothing, or even getting in the way of others.

For example, in a work situation: Miguel is responsible for invoices, client quotes and suppliers management, whilst José is only responsible for attending the incoming calls. He spends the day doing very little – so “José se pasa el día pintando la mona.

English equivalent: To be watching paint dry, to be a spare part

 

3. Coser y cantar

Literally means: Sewing and singing

What it expresses: This is said to express that something is extremely easy for someone – so easy, that it’s like sewing and singing (which of course go together very easily!)

For example, installing and setting up a program is “coser y cantar” for an IT Engineer.

English equivalent: A walk in the park

 

4. Ponerse las botas

Literally means: Put on one’s boots

What it expresses: Just like filling one’s boots in English, this phrase expresses taking full advantage of a situation – but Spaniards use it for food!

We use this expression when we eat too much (which happens a lot: at family reunions, weddings, dinners with friends…!). After having a generous meal you can proudly say: “¡Me he puesto las botas!“.

English equivalent: To fill one’s boots

 

5. Llevarse a alguien al huerto

Literally means: To bring someone to the vegetable patch

What it expresses: This one is an expression for adults only. If you are underage please stop reading! 

 

 It expresses the heroic act of seduction. Spaniards use this to proudly tell their friends that they ‘pulled’.

For example: José seduced Maria last night, so today he called Miguel to say: “Anoche me llevé a Maria al huerto”.

English equivalent: To pull/ to score

 

That’s it for our top 5 Spanish expressions – writing this post was “coser y cantar!”

Want to know even more fun and local expressions? Don’t miss our Spanish idiom alphabet! Or, if you prefer to learn in school, you’ll love our Spanish classroom vocabulary.

Keep learning Spanish with AIL!

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