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Episode 81: 10 Fun Spanish Sayings

Hi everyone! First, let me apologize for the delay. About two weeks ago, we began a major house project: putting up all of the trim before our second baby arrives! And as all house projects go, we ran into a few issues. Which means that we haven't gone to bed before midnight in a long time, the house is a disaster, and the majority of my recording stuff is still buried in this disaster. I managed to extricate my microphone yesterday, but quickly realized that I was not going to get my episode done in time, again.

Needless to say, it has been a crazy month! And if things sound a little different, it is because my normal setup is just not possible right now. :( But things are slowly coming together, so I am hopeful that by the middle of next month, it will all be better (just in time for Christmas!).

So thank you for your patience - this has been quite the challenging time! :) And without further ado, let's begin our episode for today, talking about 10 fun Spanish sayings that you can immediately begin using! (Better late than never, right?) And, of course, we will continue our cultural tip mini-series on Puerto Rico by looking at their national holidays! ¡Vámanos!


10 Fun Spanish Sayings

For each saying, I'll give you the direct translation followed by the actual meaning/English equivalent and an example sentence.

1. A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda.

Translation: He who gets up early, God helps.

English Equivalent: Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. (Benjamin Franklin)


-Me odio madrugar. I hate getting up early.

-Si, pero sabes que, ¡a quien madruga, Dios le ayuda! Yes, but you know that, "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!"

Note: I love that Spanish has an actual verb for "to get up early" - madrugar. How handy is that?

2. A lo hecho, pecho.

Translation: Upon being done, chest. (In this case, though, pecho really signifies courage or valor.)

English Equivalent: You made your bed, now you have to lie in it. In other words, what's done is done and you must face the consequences with courage.


-¡Oh, no! Rompí el florero de mamá! Ayúdame a esconderlo. Oh no! I broke mom's vase. Help me hide it!

-A lo hecho, pecho, mi amigo. You made your bed, now you have to lie in it, my friend.

Note: While researching this phrase, I discovered that the Cervantes Institute (el Instituto Cervantes) actually has an online, multilingal sayings reference dictionary. It is so cool! You should definitely check it out!

3. El que la sigue, la consigue.

Translation: He who pursues it/her, will achieve it/her.

English Equivalent: It is kind of like "Nothing ventured, nothing gained", but with the idea that you will succeed if you continue trying.


-No sé si puedo hacer esto. I don't know if I can do this.

-El que la sigue, la consigue. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. (You gotta play to win.)

Note: I found this phrase in one of my old college notebooks. Thank you, profesora!

4. No saber ni papa de algo.

Translation: To not know a potato about something.

English Equivalent: To know zilch about something. To be clueless about it.


-¿Quizás deberíamos pedirle ayuda a Daniel? Maybe we should ask Daniel for help?

-¡¿Daniel?! ¡Él no sabe ni papa de esto! Daniel?! He doesn't know zilch about this!

Note: This phrase just plays with the imagination, doesn't it? I wonder why a potato was chosen.

5. Hablando de Rey de Roma....

Translation: Speak of the King of Rome...

English Equivalent: Speak of the Devil....


-Y luego robó el auto... ¡oh! Hablando de Rey de Roma.... And then he stole the car... oh! Speak of the Devil!

Note: Again, another interesting choice of words. Why is it the King of Rome? But then again, they might wonder why we say "Speak of the Devil" in English. An interesting history question. :)

6. Bacán,

Translation: No direct translation.

English Equivalent: Cool, excellent, neat!


-¡Acabo de comprar un perro! I just bought a dog!

-¡Bacán! Cool!

Note: This is used in Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Peru. Other similar phrases you might here are ¡Qué padre! or ¡Qué chévere! (I personally love ¡Qué chévere!)

7. Chao pescao.

Translation: Later fish!

English Equivalent: See ya later, alligator!


-Me tengo que ir. ¡Chao pescao! I gotta go. Later, gater!

Note: This is just a fun goodbye rhyme you might hear in Chile. I don't think there's a response, though, like you might here in the U.S. with "In a while, crocodile!)

8. Al que no quiere caldo, dos tazas

Translation: He who doesn't want soup, two cups.

English Equivalent: It really means that you should accept things as they come, because otherwise you might find yourself getting a double share of what you don't want. It is kind of like a combination of "Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!" and "The grass is always greener on the other side."


-Le dije a mi mamá lo que pensaba de su cocina, así que me mandó a la cama sin cenar. I told my mom what I thought of her cooking, so she sent me to bed without supper.

-Al que no quiere caldo, dos tazas. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it!

Note: I saw a better example on

"Odia el frío y se tuvo que ir a vivir a Alaska. Al que no le gusta el caldo, dos tazas. She hates the cold and had to go live in Alaska; life is unfair."

9. Al Chile

Translation: To the chile pepper

English Equivalent: Truly? No way!


-¡Acabo de ver a Orlando Bloom en el teatro! I just saw Orlando Bloom at the theater!

-¿¡Al chile!? No way?!

Note: A friend of mine just told me about this saying, so I had to look it up. It is a reallyversatile phrase! You can use it to replace No me digas!, to say for real?, or even as a way to say Let's talk honestly (hablar al chile). You can see more ways to use it at Spanish Unraveled! But be careful - this is considered an extremely slangy term, so only use it in very informal situations (just like you would never say, "That is legit!" in front of people you wanted to sound educated or classy around. Instead, you would say something like, "That is a legitimate point!").

10. La piña está agria

Translation: The pineapple is sour.

English Equivalent: Times are tough.


-Juan, ¿cómo está la tienda? Juan, how is the store?

-Ay, la piña está agria, mi amigo. Man, times are tough, my friend.

Note: This particular phrase comes from Puerto Rico! Which seemed like a fitting segue into our cultural tip. ;)

And that wraps up this episode! Hopefully I can get everything done on time for next Monday! Since we will have celebrated Thanksgiving by then, it'll be time to really get into the Christmas spirit! So we'll do our annual Spanish Christmas Songs episode! I can't wait!

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving with family and friends! I am certainly grateful for all the blessings God has given me this year, and that includes you, my lovely listeners/readers!

Remember, learning a language is a lifelong journey.

¡Aprovéchalo, Disfrútalo y Compártelo!


Cultural Tip: Puerto Rico

Global National Holidays

Today's cultural tip highlights the national holidays of the tropical island, Puerto Rico! To save on time, and to avoid extreme repetitiveness, here is a quick list of holidays that many other countries also celebrate and/or which we have covered in other episodes, so I won't get into too much detail for these ones. Being a U.S. Commonwealth, Puerto Rico celebrates the same holidays that the U.S. does. I'm also not going to dive into any of those holidays, as my main focus is on the unique holidays that the island itself celebrates.

  • New Year's Day (01/01a)*

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (01/17, it is always the third Monday of January)

  • President's Day (02/21, it is always the third Monday of February)

  • Holy Friday (04/15) (More commonly known as Good Friday, it is always the Friday before Easter)

  • Easter Sunday (04/17)

  • Mother's Day (05/08) (Every second Sunday in May. Technically, it's not an official national holiday)

  • Memorial Day (05/30, celebrated the last Monday in May)

  • Father's Day (06/19) (Every third Sunday in June. Technically, it's not an official national holiday)

  • U.S. Independence Day (07/04a)

  • Labor Day (09/05, as it is the first Monday in September)

  • Columbus Day (10/10, as it is the second Monday in October)

  • Veterans Day (11/11a)

  • Thanksgiving (11/24, as it is the fourth Thursday in November)

  • Christmas Eve (12/24a)

  • Christmas Day (12/25a, but since it falls on a Sunday this year, the day off will be Monday, 12/26)

*The "a" means that it is always celebrated on this day.

Unique National Holidays

So let's talk about the more unique holidays that Puerto Ricans celebrate!

1. Three King's Day (01/06a)

While this holiday is certainly not unique to Puerto Rico, as it is a pretty important holiday throughout the Christian/Catholic world, but it really isn't celebrated that much in the US, which is why I want to cover it. It celebrates the day the Magi, or wisemen, presented their gifts to the baby Jesus. There are various ways to celebrate the holiday, but in Puerto RIco this often involves parades and families spending the day at home together.

2. National Heroes Day (02/21, it is always the third Monday in February)

This holiday is a four-in-one celebration that commemorates four national Puerto Rican heroes. Up until 2014, these people were celebrated on separate public holidays. The national heroes are:

  • Eugenio María de Hostos, a 19th century writer and politician who fought for Puerto Rican independence and the abolition of slavery.

  • Luis Muñoz Rivera, who became the island's first democratically elected governor, serving four terms, and who was key to gaining Commonwealth status for the island in 1952.

  • José de Diego, a renowned poet and politician.

  • Dr. José Celso Barbosa, a doctor and the founder of the island’s Republican Party.

3. American Citizenship Day (03/02a)

This celebrates Puerto Ricans gaining U.S. Citizenship on March 2, 1917. It came about through the passage of the Jones-Shafroth Act passed by U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson, giving Puerto Ricans born on or after April 25, 1898, U.S. citizenship and creating the Puerto Rican Senate, a bill of rights, and allowing the island to elect a Resident Commissioner. So a pretty significant piece of legislation for the islanders.

4. Emancipation Day, or Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud (03/22a)

This day celebrates the abolition of slavery on the island back on March 22, 1873. The Spanish had introduced slavery to the island because of labor shortages (brought about by European diseases decimating the populace), beginning with the gold mines and then changing to sugar plantations. There were over 20 slave revolts, and the Spanish National Assembly finally abolished the practice while the island was still a Spanish colony; however, it was not a complete emancipation. Slaves still had to buy their freedom by paying whatever price their master set, and they also had to work 3 more years for them to compensate for their ex-masters' loss.

5. Discovery Day, or Día del Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico (11/19a)

This day commemorates the day Christopher Columbus arrived on the island, November 19, 1493, during his second trip to the New World. It was this trip where he named the island San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist). Several years later, a large harbor on the island was renamed Puerto Rico, and overtime the name began to reference the whole island.



Intro and Closing Music by Master_Service from Fiverr

Cultural Tip Transition Music edited from song by JuliusH from Pixabay

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