My family is famous for talking in code, at least that’s how I took Spanish sayings. As a kid I use to hear these rhymes or funny sayings all the time. They were used to explain an event, to teach a lesson, and even to cause someone to think about their actions. In the end the intention was good but there were a few that were just a little vulgar.
Still as an adult, I find myself making these same Spanish saying references when I speak to my parents. There are still times I have to ask my parents to decipher a saying because it can be a little too complicated for me to understand.
I find that my favorite ones are pretty self-explanatory. Often times Spanish sayings can set the mood to a conversation I have with my family. They even get the point across without having to go into details about how I am feeling.
There are many Spanish sayings. These 13 sayings are classics in our home.
PANZA LLENA CORAZON CONTENTO: “FULL BELLY HAPPY HEART”
This is a saying used for relationships or for kids to eat. If you feed those you love then you keep them happy.
MUCHO AYUDA EL QUE NO ESTORBA: “HE WHO DOES NOT INTERFERE HELPS A LOT”
My grandmother use to use this one when we were in her way in the kitchen. She would tell us how we help her even more by being out of her way.
A FUERZA NI LOS ZAPATOS ENTRAN: “WITH FORCE NOT EVEN SHOES SLIP ON”
Putting our parents in a position of discomfort usually resulted in a reply with a saying like this. My parents especially my dad isn’t the type to act fast if put under pressure. He made me realize that asking before demanding him for help would gave me better results.
CALLADITA TE VES MAS BONITA: “YOU LOOK MORE BEAUTIFUL QUIET”
When someone you love is offering advice or speaking when they weren’t asked to contribute to the conversation they are usually told that they look prettier when they are quiet. This one would always make us laugh at kids because it usually meant someone was going to get into trouble.
NO TE QUEJES POR QUE EL VIENTO VA EN CONTRA TUYA, MEJOR APRENDE A VOLAR: “DO NOT COMPLAIN THAT THE WIND IS AGAINST YOU, BETTER YET LEARN TO FLY”
My grandfather use to tell us that we gain more by learning to do things on our own rather than depending on everything and everyone else. This is the perfect saying to tell someone who is depending on everything else to take matters in to their own hands. Events in life don’t always go as planned so it’s better to prepare and accommodate accordingly.
TODO CABE EN JARRITO SABIENDOLO ACOMODAR: “EVERYTHING FITS IN A JUG KNOWING HOW TO ACCOMMODATE/ORGANIZE IT”
Learning to do things around the house my mom always said things have their place. We needed to learn where and how things are to be organized because everything has it’s place if we pay attention to how things need to be put away.
UN CABALLO DADO, NO SE LE MIRA EL COLMILLO: “A HORSE THAT IS GIVEN, YOU SHOULDN’T LOOK AT ITS FANGS”
When someone gives you something you don’t analyze it or say oh i’d rather have something else. You accept the gift with a thank you. This saying is perfect for kids. There’s no need to be picky when someone is offering something to you.
CUENTAS CLARAS AMISTADES LARGAS: “CLEAR ARRANGEMENTS LONG FRIENDSHIPS”
It’s best to be clear on arrangements especially with friends it makes a friendship last longer.
My parent’s always used this when a friend wanted to borrow something of our or the other way around. It’s important to be clear on the arrangements.
DIME CON QUIEN ANDAS Y TE DIRE QUIEN ERES: “TELL ME WHO YOUR FRIENDS ARE AND I WILL TELL YOU WHO YOU ARE”
Growing up my grandfather would tell us we needed to be careful who we hung out with. He’d tell us show me who you are friends with and I will tell you who you are. While I don’t like to believe this, people do stereotype and I’d hate to be guilty by association.
HAZ EL BIEN SIN MIRAR A QUIEN: “DO GOOD WITHOUT LOOKING AT WHO IT BENEFITS”
My family, especially my parents, are givers. They go above and beyond for someone in need. My mother is very involved in her community and she’s always been a clear example of what it is to do good without looking for who it benefits.
HIJO DE TIGRE TIGRITO: “SON OF A TIGER, BABY TIGER”
When my kids do things like I did as a kid my parents reply “hijo de tigre, tigrito” meaning my kids are so much like me just smaller. I love the saying it’s cute and let’s me know that my parents remember how I use to be as a kid.
LO BARATO CUESTA CARO: “CHEAP IS EXPENSIVE”
This saying is used when someone doesn’t research or invest in their purchase. Buying something cheap will cause you to keep spending money if it keeps breaking down.
This saying is also used to describe a fast relationships saying that someone who is easy will end up costing you because you never know what it will lead to.
MAS VALE TARDE QUE NUNCA: “BETTER LATE THAN NEVER”
This is a saying I still use today in English more than Spanish: Better late than never. It’s true especially when my Father would show up late to pick us up at school. It was better to have him show up late than to walk the mile and a half home.