EVERY language has its own particular sayings and proverbs that are passed down generation to generation and whose origins are often lost in the annals of time.
Many common Spanish phrases are completely baffling to an English speaker when translated literally – especially when it comes to swear words and insults.
So considering the difference in culture and history it’s surprising how often Spanish sayings have an almost exact equivalent in English.
Here are 14 proverbs in Spanish that can replace common sayings in English.
Al que madruga, Dios le ayuda
While literally translated, this common Spanish saying means ‘God help those who wake up early’ the equivalent phrase in English would be ‘the early bird catches the worm’.
No hay mal que por bien no venga
This is the phrase to use when you are looking on the bright side. Translated as ‘All bad things bring good ones’ it can be used in place of ‘every cloud has a silver lining’.
A la tercera va la vencida
While it translates as ‘the third time’s a charm’, here’s a phrase you use when you want to say ‘third time lucky’ in Spanish.
El mundo es un pañuelo
If you translated this literally into English it does sound a bit odd. But instead of ‘the world is a handkerchief’, English speakers would say ‘it’s a small world’.
A buen entendedor, pocas palabras bastan
This phrase is the Spanish equivalent of ‘a word to the wise is enough’
Del dicho al hecho hay un trecho
While the literal translation of this phrase is ‘it’s a stretch from said to done’, in English the phrase is ‘easier said than done’.
Mas vale prevenir que curar
This common saying is easily translated as ‘better safe than sorry’.
Dios los cria y ellos se juntan
While in the traditionally Catholic country of Spain, the phrase has more religious connotations in English we would just say: ‘birds of a feather flock together’.
Cria cuervos y te sacaran los ojos
In Spain if you ‘raise crows, they will gouge out your eyes’ but in English the phrase best explaining the treacherous nature or ingratitude of someone we trust or care for is best explained with the phrase ‘nourish a viper in one’s bosom’.
Mas vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer
Easily translated as ‘better the devil you know than the good you don’t know’ in English this is usually shortened to just ‘better the devil you know’.
Culo veo, culo quiero
This Spanish phrase translates as the rather crude ‘bottom I see, bottom I want’ and is best replaced with ‘monkey see, monkey do’ to describe a situation when one blindly acts without care of what comes next.
En casa del herrero, cuchara de palo
The Spanish phrase literally translates as ‘In the house of the blacksmith there’s only wooden spoons’ which is used in exactly the same way as the old English saying ‘the shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot’.
Cuando el rio suena, agua lleva
The Spanish equivalent of the oft-used English phrase ‘ where there’s smoke, there’s fire’ makes use of an entirely different element to make its point:‘When a river sounds, it’s carrying water.
De perdidos al rio
Finally another use of to make the point in this Spanish phrase which means ‘in for a penny, in for a pound’.
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