Spanish Idioms, #12: Consultar Con La Almohada

Consultar con la almohada.

Literally, this translates to “consult with the pillow.” I absolutely love this phrase! The most commonly used English equivalent is “sleep on it,” and we generally use it when there’s a decision we have to make that we’re unsure about. Or if, for whatever reason, we need more time to give our opinion.

Some examples:

“Si no estás seguro, debes consultar con tu almohada.”

“If you’re unsure, you should sleep on it.”

“Realmente no lo sé, tendré que consultar con la almohada.

“I really don’t know, I will have to sleep on it.”

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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? 🙂

Spanish Idioms, #6: Es Pan Comido

I was listening to the radio with my host dad as we were on our way to the school. It’s an English station that aims to teach conversational English to Spanish speakers, and it actually turns out to be pretty helpful for me as well (he explains common colloquial sayings in Spanish, so I end up learning, too!). The announcer used this expression and I was really confused – luckily the host dad was able to explain it to me:

Es pan comido.

Literally, it translates to “It is eaten bread.” He explained that you use this expression when something is really easy, such as an exam or riding a bike. The english equivalent would be “It’s a piece of cake” or “It’s a breeze.” I think this will come in handy for me! Especially as a teacher of some whiny students 😉

Spanish Idioms, #5: Media naranja

In class one day, we were working on making personal goals and objectives in English. After about 5 minutes, two girls called me over and asked me what “Media naranja” meant in English. Confused, I replied “Err… half orange…?” and wondered how the hell that had anything to do with their goals.

“Media naranja.”

Their usual English teacher, also a good friend of mine, overheard this exchange and started laughing. She explained that ‘media naranja’ is actually the Spanish way of saying soul matebetter half, or other half. I almost melted, I loved the expression immediately! It’s such a cute way of saying it. But why an orange?!

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However, after discussing it with another Catalan friend of mine, she told me she absolutely hated it. She says it implies that we’re not complete until we have a partner in our lives, but really, we should be whole on our own. I hadn’t thought about it like that, but she makes a very valid point. If you come into a relationship hoping that the other person will fill what’s missing in your life, I doubt that relationship will last very long.

Regardless, I think this is such a cute idiom ❤

Spanish Idioms, #4: Ponerse las botas

Haha surprised I actually found a shirt with this idiom in English... Photo Cred www.hicktowncouture.com

Haha surprised I actually found a shirt with this idiom in English… Photo Cred http://www.hicktowncouture.com

I learned this lovely phrase the day of our Mexican Fiesta. I was speaking to some of the people who were going to be coming that night for the feast, and they told me “Nos ponemos las botas”… to which I replied with a blank stare of confusion.

Ponerse las botas.

They explained to me that it meant that we would all be eating a lot that night, so it was a funny expression to say we should prepare ourselves. I asked “but why boots? Shouldn’t it be about pants or something?” and they just shrugged. After researching the phrase a little bit, I found out that it can have multiple meanings (I’m glad I looked it up before actually using it!).

You can use this phrase to signify that you will be eating quite a lot, but it also could mean that you expect to have a lot of success or get lucky that night *blush*. It also means, simply, to get ready for something. I suppose the context means everything, eh?

They asked me if there was an English equivalent, but I am still having a hard time thinking of one. Anyone know of anything?

Spanish Idioms, #3: Hablando del Rey de Roma

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Here’s another idiom that I learned from the great Spanishpodcast.net, but unfortunately have not been able to use thus far.

Hablando del Rey de Roma (por la puerta asoma).

It translates literally to “Speaking of the king of Rome (through the door he appears).” The part in parenthesis is not necessary to say, but is the original. I think the closest English idiom we have to that is “Speak of the devil.” Did you know that the complete version of that saying in English is “Speak of the devil and he doth appear“? I think I might start using that! But I suppose the Spanish version is a little more polite, eh? You use these phrases when you’re with another person and speaking about a 3rd person who has not yet arrived. If they arrive while you are still talking about them, you say “Hablando del Rey do Roma,” which does not have a positive or negative connotation to it (unlike basically calling someone the devil in English). If you’re interested in the origin of this phrase, check out the episode through the link above! It was very informative.

Another side note: If the person you are referring to is female, you can still say “Hablando del Rey do Roma,” it is not necessary to change Rey (King) to Reina (Queen).

I’m itching to be able to use this in conversation!

Spanish Idioms, #2: Que no cunda el Pánico

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This last weekend, I was cooking a Mexican feast for a group of 14 people. My host family loved my cooking so much that they decided to invite all of their friends over to try it! Needless to say, I was very nervous. The mother in my host family took me to the grocery store, and we came across our first problem: there were no ripe avocados. And guacamole was going to be the star of this dinner. Whatever would we do?!?

Que no cunda el Pánico.

Literally, word by word, it means “That you don’t spread the panic.” I had never heard the verb cundir before, so when the host mother said this to me I was rather confused. But it is a common saying the Spanish say similar to the English “Stay calm, don’t panic!” It became our mantra for the rest of that weekend whenever something went wrong. We must’ve said it over 50 times!