Expressions in Spanish


WHATEVER the method you are using to learn Spanish, it is likely that if you tried to carry on a conversation with someone you would sound, shall we say, textbook. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Far from it. But you will say all the proper words in the proper way and, really, who speaks any language like that? What is missing is the employment of idioms and slang, the color in all language, a liveliness that also can make you appear as if you have a deeper understanding of Spanish. It also sounds more natural and “real” to pepper your speech with some expressions in Spanish.

If you stopped to examine a typical conversation that you may have in English, you would probably be surprised at how many idioms come out of your mouth – from I’ll be right back and as soon as possible to a blessing in disguise and that’s the last straw, and a million more!

Here are some Spanish expressions with their English equivalents. The translations may be literal, but more frequently they are not as the different cultures use different symbolism to convey the same ideas.

Expressions in Spanish

get down to business or get to the point
llegar al caso

a certain something
un no sé qué

blessing in disguise
no hay mal que por bien no venga

don’t mention it
no hay de qué

it’s about time!
¡a buenas horas!

in the long run
a la larga or al fin

sooner or later
tarde o temprano

from time to time
de cuando en cuando

de mala gana

overnight (as in “overnight success”)
de la noche a la mañana

not to be able to stand someone or something
no poder con

I’ll be right back
voy y vengo

by the way
por casualidad

of course
por supuesto or claro que sí or ¿cómo no?

whether one likes it or not
por las buenas o por las malas

as soon as possible
cuanto antes or tan pronto como posible

all of a sudden
de repente

to make a mess of things
echar todo a rodar

to lend a hand
echar una mano

to be fashionable
estar de moda

lots of
un montón de

better yet
mejor dicho

not for anything!
¡ni a tiros!

never in all my life
nunca en mi perra vida

that’s the last straw
¡no faltaba más!