English and Spanish: two languages, same idioms

There is nothing more typical of Spain than a very good expression. We love idioms, slang and refranes! They are part of our daily life and come up in every conversation. Idioms are funny, spontaneous and clever, and sometimes you just can’t find the right words to express whatever is on your mind… but the perfect idiom can do it for you.

Idioms are common in many languages. For instance, English offers plenty of funny and interesting idioms. Let’s take a look at some English expressions and their Spanish equivalents!

Two idioms, same concepts

Two friends chatting casually.

Two friends chatting casually. | Shutterstock

  • In English, something expensive costs you an arm and a leg. Spaniards refer to their kidney instead: “me ha costado un riñón.”
  • Hitting the nail on the head means to be right. The Spanish idiom is shorter and you just hit the nail: “dar en el clavo.”
  • Making a long story short is just saying it with just a few words, or “en pocas palabras.”
  • And you will pull someone’s leg in English, but when you’re in Spain, you should pull their hair (“tomar el pelo.”) Or maybe you just shouldn’t pull anything.
  • Be careful when you use the previous idiom because it might be the last straw or the drop that fills the glass: “la gota que colma el vaso.”
  • And you might be used to killing two birds with one stone, but the Spanish expression would rather do it in a single shot: “matar dos pájaros de un tiro.”
  • Speaking of the Devil? You might be speaking of the king of Rome: “hablando del rey de Roma.”
  • Should you add fuel or add wood to the fire? That depends on where you are: “añadir leña al fuego.”
  • And while English mentions a piece of cake to describe something as easy, we just say it’s eaten bread: “es pan comido.”

But let’s finish this list now so you can sleep on it or discuss it with your pillow (“consultarlo con la almohada.”)

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