Spanish Idioms, #7: El que no corre, vuela

A couple months ago, I started meeting with one of the teachers at my school for a good ol’ fashioned intercambio (a native English speaker and a native Spanish speaker come together and try to communicate in the other’s language – it’s a party). Once a week, we’d go to her house for lunch and do our best to show off our language skills. It was incredibly nerve-wracking at first, I didn’t think I’d be able to go more than a minute in a conversation after I exhausted the basics (Hola cómo estás? Que tal tu día? ¿Cómo fue tu fin de semana?). After all, I hadn’t had much practice actually speaking Spanish.

To my surprise, Spanish came pouring out of me. I became super excited to actually have the opportunity to speak, for once, and not be judged by how bad my pronunciation was. Sure, I screwed things up. To her, I probably sounded like a 4 year old on a rant. But it was so exhilerating to finally be able to speak, and it was also a big confidence-booster that I could actually speak in Spanish beyond small-talk.

On one of these days, I told her that I had been learning some new idioms. I have really been enjoying learning these from various people, I think it might just be one of those big things that I’m missing that’s keeping me away from my goal of being fluent. We started brainstorming idioms in our languages, and this came out of it:

El que no corre, vuela.

Literally, it translates to “He that doesn’t run, flies.” It implies that those who really want to achieve something will go above and beyond running, they will fly (figuratively, of course). It’s difficult to find a similar idiom in English, but after researching a bit, this is my favorite, similar phrase: “You snooze, you lose.” Both signify that you have to get up and actually work hard for something to happen. However, I like how the phrase in Spanish focuses more on the winner rather than the loser, and how you have to work hard for something to happen… not just ‘wake up’ like the phrase in English implies. Another possible English equivalent (and more formal, at that) is “He who hesitates is lost.” Again, I think I prefer the Spanish idiom here because this also focuses it’s attention on the loser.

However, this phrase is obviously difficult to translate to English… I found many different answers as I was researching this. Anyone else have any input? 🙂


One thought on “Spanish Idioms, #7: El que no corre, vuela

  1. To me ‘you snooze you lose’ and ‘he who hesitates is lost’ sound more like ‘quien fue a Sevilla perdió su silla’ and/or ‘camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente’.


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