Spanish phrases that you’ll hear if you’re learning Spanish

If you’re learning Spanish in a spanish school and you usually speak with people, you´ll sometimes listen to sentences without meaning to you. In Spain we like to use a a lot of convoluted sentences and proverbs that don´t have a literal meaning and are impossible to translate into English, but if you want to speak spanish as if you were born in Spain, you´ll need to know the meaning of these sayings that for sure will be very useful while you’re learning spanish in Madrid.

Ten usefull phrases for students who’re learning Spanish in Spain:

1. «Te has pasado tres pueblos»

No, you haven’t gone past three villages literally, you are still in Madrid. If you listen to somebody saying this sentence, probably is because you´ve been exaggerating something.


You are with your friend eating paella and you like it a lot, so eat three dishes more. Then, you have stomach ache and your friend says to you:
– «Te has pasado tres pueblos, no deberías haber comido tanto»

2. «Estar como una cabra»

Keep calm, because if somebody says that you’re like a goat, doesn’t mean that suddenly the horns grown in your head. The real meaning of this sentence is «you’re crazy!».

You’re in Gran Vía and suddenly you cross the street without checking the traffic. Your friend stops you and says:
– ¿Por qué no miras el semáforo? ¡Estás como una cabra!


 3. «Pasar la noche en vela»

«Vela» in Spanish has a lot of meanings: candle, sail, wake… If you listen to your friend saying «he pasado la noche en vela», don’t think that he spent the night looking a candle or sailing in the sea. He wants to say that he didn’t sleep last night.

You’re learning Spanish in Madrid and you’re speaking with your roomate:
– Hoy tengo mi examen del DELE y estoy muy nervioso, ayer no podía dormir y me he pasado la noche en vela.

4. «Estoy hasta el moño»

This sentence may be replace by «estar harto» and the meaning is to be sick of. Moño is a woman’s hairstyle, the top knot, so maybe who’s saying this sentences is a woman. There’re others possibilities, but aren’t polites expressions.

– La semana que viene tengo mi examen del DELE y me he pasado todo el fin de semana estudiando, ¡estoy hasta el moño!

5. «Tirar la caña»

If you are speaking about flirt with a person or you say that you are in love with somebody and your friend asks you «¿Le has tirado ya la caña?». Don’t think that you have to go with the person who likes you to fishing. The real meaning is that you have to say to this girl or boy that you like her/him. «Meter ficha» is other synonym of this sentece that you can use in the same situation.


You’re speaking with your classmate who’s in your class learning Spanish:
– Me gusta María, es muy guapa y ayer estuvimos comiendo juntos.
– Yo creo que tu también le gustas, tírale la caña a ver qué te dice.


6. «El que quiera peces, que se moje el culo»

If you want fishes wet your arse (ass), but it doesn’t mean that you have to go to the sea and wet your arse while fishing, in Spain you can buy the fish in the supermarket too. The real meaning is that if you want to get something you have to make an effort for it.

Your friend lives very far away, but you need that he lends you a book because you’re learning Spanish. You don’t want to go out of home because it’s snowing, so you ask to your friend if he can come to your house. Your friend says:
– Lo siento, yo tampoco tengo ganas de salir de casa, así que tendrás que venir tú. Quién quiera peces que se moje el culo.


7. «Vete a freír espárragos»

If you’re arguing with a friend and he says you «Go to fry asparagus!», it’s not mandatory that you have to go to cooking. In fact, the real meaning is that he doesn’t like something that you have said/done.
It’s normal that Spanish people say ugly things but joking, so you have to see if your friend is being serious or if only is joking.

Your friend lent you a book  but now you can’t find it and he needs it for tomorrow. You have to tell him that you don’t have the book and he says:
– Vete a freír espárragos, necesitaba ese libro para mi clase de mañana.

8. «No le busques las tres patas al gato»

Don’t looking for three legs to the cat, because has four. The original sentence was «Don’t looking for five legs to the cat», because it’s impossible to find the fifth, nevertheless, this proverb is used by Cervantes in his book «Don Quijote», who says «No le busques tres pies al gato», and from that we use the three legs pattern.
The meaning is that you don´t have to make difficult the simple things.

You fail an exam and you are very disappointed, but you think that you failed because of the teacher. Your friend says:
– No le busques tres pies al gato, has suspendido porque no habías estudiado nada.


9. Le dijo la sartén al cazo

 Keep calm, the skillet and the saucepan don’t speak. «The skillet says to the saucepan» means that you don’t have to comment about the others if you do the same of them. That is because the skillet and the saucepan are both dirty, but the pan doesn’t want that the saucepan to know it.

Your friend doesn’t study for your Spanish exam and you say that he’s very lazy. He says you:
– ¡Le dijo la sartén al cazo! ¡Si tu has estudiado menos que yo, eres más vago!

10. Montar un circo y que te crezcan los enanos

If you are entrepreneur and you want to buy a circus in Spain, don’t worry, because if you hire a person with achondroplasia, he won’t «grow up». This sentence is about the bad lucky.

It’s starting to rain, you are very late, the metro is broken and you arrive very late so you can’t do your DELE’s exam. When you tell this to your friend, he says:
– ¡Qué mala suerte tienes! ¡Montas un circo y te crecen los enanos!

Macarena Segovia


Abrir chat
¿Necesitas ayuda?
Velázquez Español para Extranjeros
Puedes comunicarte conmigo por Whatsapp y atenderé tu consulta.