We’re here to talk about an advanced aspect of the language (yet very fun): the Spanish sayings. En español, we call these refranes.
I’m talking about those expressions you probably catch when hearing someone talk, although you have no clue what they’re really talking about. You catch the words, yes, yet the whole thing seems absurd in the context you thought you were following.
So, picture this:
You’re having a conversation in Spanish with some Spanish speaker because you, well, are kind o able to have a conversation…
And the other person goes like this: bla, bla, bla…
And you: sí, sí, claro, vale, bla, bla, bla….
Then he goes like: más bla, bla, bla… ¡y me salió el tiro por la culata!
And you: haha (???????)
BECAUSE, on the inside, you have no idea what that person means. You think to yourself: Tiro? Culata?! What is he talking about now? And, of course, you just smile and pretend like you understood, just like we all do when speaking a foreign language.
We’ve all been there, right?!
I could tell you a thousand episodes like that, except in English. They were so much fun. Only… AFTER.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the most popular refranes españoles.
1. Salirse el tiro por la culata
[Audio: me salió el tiro por la culata]
We use this one when we want to say something didn’t go the way we expected. Even worse, it went the opposite way.
I tried something but it didn’t work, so: me salió el tiro por la culta.
It’s usually used for fun or unimportant events, when it’s not a big deal and in non-formal contexts.
Example: let’s say I had an argument with my sister about nothing really relevant. And I plan to go talk to her, apologize and make things better. But it doesn’t work like this because I can’t get over myself and go there and make it even worse, so we end up fighting again. So I leave and my mum calls to ask how it went. This could be the conversation:
– Mum: Gaby, ¿cómo fue con tu hermana?
– Me: bueno… me salió el tiro por la culata.
– Mum: ¿¡Qué pasó?!
– Me: discutimos más y ahora está más enfadada.
2. El que ríe último ríe mejor
[Audio: el que ríe último ríe mejor]
This one is about revenge. I found there’s a similar saying in another languages like dutch. If we translate it literally, it says “the one who laughs at the end, laughs better”.
So, if someone screwed you up and you get mad and plan to do something about it, it’s a good time to use this expression.
Example: a while ago I had a sh*tty job. They didn’t treat me well and they were not fair with the legal part. They were so mean and so unfair I eventually quit and decided to sue them for all the things they were doing wrong. In that moment, when I was feeling so angry beacause of how they treated me, I told a friend I had consulted a lawyer and had all the chances to win the case; after that I ended the conversation on the topic with this: “El que ríe último ríe mejor”. Meaning, I’m going to win the case, they’re a going to pay for the unfair treatment and ilegal stuff and then everything will be balanced again.
3. Hacerse la boca agua
[Audio: se me hace la boca agua]
This one is realted to food and we use it a lot. A lot! There’s a similar expression in English so it might be easier to remember. English speakers talk about mouth-watering food or things like that. It means exactly the same.
Let’s say we are sitting at the table on Christmast Eve, the food is served, but we are still waiting for the last cousin who is somewhere around the house doing something that’s probably much less important than eating, but yet he’s not there and we are waiting. It’s just a few minutes, but you are hungry, want to it, for f**ck sake!, but you are an adult and have to behave, so you just say: ¡ay, se me hace la boca agua!
Meaning everything looks delicious and you can’t wait to eat. Understood? 🙂
4. Dios los cría y ellos se juntan
[Audio: Dios los cría y ellos se juntan]
This is one of my favorite one in life. It has nothing to do with any God really, it just means that we always attract and gather with the people who is similar to us.
My dad used to say this to me in relation to most of my friends: all crazy travellers :)!
Also, this expression could easily be used by any grandmother when seeing the group of rappers gathering every evening at the town’s main square, listening to music with a very high volume and using theirs skates and stuff (or whatever rappers do that could disturb any abuela). She would go like:
5. Ir al grano
[Audio: ¡(tú) ve al grano!]
This one is very popular when wanting to address a topic of interest in a conversation.
But, let’s see: grano has a lot of meanings en español, even though the most common is pimple (or spot). So, when someone tells you that in a conversation, don’t you think you need to go check a mirror to find out what pimple is the other person talking about.
It literally means “Let’s get to the point”. No more talking about unimportant things, tell me what you are here to tell me.
It doesn’t need to be anything serious, but it could. I often use it when my girlfriends tell me they have new gossips to share but they start talking about unimportant things like work or their wedding plannings 😛 Then I go like: “¡Ve al grano! Cuéntame aquello sobre… [whatever the gossip is about]”.
Also, there’s these people who talk way too much. When they are telling you something they go back to the beginning of times and you feel like you’re life is ruined and you are going to die before that person finishes the story.
That’s a good moment to ask some to “ir al grano”!
Esto es todo amigos.
Hope you enjoyed learning a few useful Spanish sayings. All of them have the same meaning in all the Spanish speaking countries, which makes them better. Also, please, share if you find this interesting :).