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Expanish’s Guide to Useful Spanish Sayings


One can never know too much…

…and that’s exactly why it is worth to read this article. This saying is more than true but do you know it’s translation into Spanish?

It is: El saber no ocupa lugar.

Well, this saying is self-explanatory but as you know there exist a lot more sayings than just this one. And I was wondering if the typical English sayings are expressed the same way in Spanish and apparently there are a lot of similarities but it’s interesting to see the small but sweet differences and details of some sayings in Spanish.

1.     Same but different

– One man’s meat is another man’s poison / another’s poison.

This one is quite interesting because it shows very clear the hierarchies of what is important to the speaker of these two languages: while the English speaking person cares about his meat or rather  about being poisoned, the Spanish speaking person is more worried about the climate conditions:  Nunca llueve a gusto de todos. (It never rains so that everyone’s happy)

-The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.

Here you can see just a tiny difference. The English saying describes the trade of the shoemaker, while the Spanish saying uses the trade of the smith.

En casa de herrero, cuchillo de palo. (In the house of the Smith, you just find a wooden knife)

-It’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
While the English people break the camel’s back, the Spanish people just talk about a glass of water that is overflowed:

Es la gota que colma el vaso.

2.     Faith

By considering the Spanish translation of some sayings we get to know the importance of the religious faith in the Spanish speaking countries. While in the English sayings it is almost never talked about god, the Spanish sayings include a lot the faith to god. Here are some examples:

–          A quien madruga, Dios lo ayuda. (Early to bed, early to rise, makes the man healthy, wealthy and wise. /The early bird catches the worm.)

–          Hay de todo en la viña del Señor. (It takes all sorts to make a world)

–          A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando. (God helps those who help themselves)

And here go some sayings that are quite the same in English and in Spanish and that are used a lot:

–          A caballo regalado no le mires los dientes. (Don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.)

–          Muchas manos hacen el trabajo ligero. (Many hands make light work.)

–          Demasiados cocineros estropean el caldo. (Too many cooks spoil the broth.)

–          Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando. (A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.)

–          Por la noche todos los gatos son pardos. (All cats are grey in the dark.)

–          Todos los caminos conducen a Roma. (All roads lead to Rome.)

–          Perro ladrador, poco mordedor. (Barking dogs never bite.)

–          A los tontos no les dura el dinero. (A fool and his money are soon parted.)

–           En las malas se conocen a los amigos. (A friend in need is a friend indeed.)

–          Piensa el ladron que todos son de condicion. (Evildoers always think the worst of others.)

–          Procura lo mejor, espera lo peor y toma lo que viniere. (Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.)

Last but not least

Life is full of wise old sayings and it’s not bad to know at least some of them in another language. These were just some examples of Spanish sayings but there are thousands more. There is a lot you can learn about the different cultures, beliefs and habits through analyzing the sayings the different groups of a linguistic community use.

And keep in mind: It’s never too late to learn! or ¡Nunca es tarde para aprender!