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Moving to Spain

10 common Spanish expressions you should learn

January 30, 2018

The charismatic personality of Spaniards and their original way of expressing themselves has given birth to many strange expressions. Spain is a country with many humorous idioms that allow you to say everything you need to say in as few words as possible.  Although some of these expressions can vary depending on the region, read the 10 most common Spanish expressions that will be understood wherever you go, whether you say them to someone from Madrid, Andalusia or Catalonia.  

If you're interested in all things Spanish, check out our free recipe for the most Spanish thing on Earth: tortilla!

10 Common Spanish Expressions using slang

¡Cómo mola!  - That's so cool!

Molar means to be cool in English. It is used to express something that you like a lot, that’s fun, attractive and surprising to the point that you just have to share it with your friends. For example, when someone shows you the new smartphone they’ve just bought, you say, “¡Cómo mola!” (“Cool!”) Notice that molar is a verb! You can conjugate it (yo molo, tú molas, él/ella mola, nosotros molamos, vosotros moláis, ellos/as molan). ¡Cómo mola! is just "that's so cool".

Ir a currar  - Go to work

It means to go to work and it’s an expression used on a daily basis by people of all ages and social classes. It is spelled with double r which produces a characteristically strong sound in Spanish as a result of the double r between two vowels. While currar is the verb, curro is the noun for work.

Me voy al sobre  - I'm off to bed

I'm going to bed. When night-time comes and you sign off from a WhatsApp group chat with your friends, you might say “Going to bed, guys”. A visual metaphor in which you’re the letter and your bed is the envelope. The destination is clear: sweet dreams.

Costar un ojo de la cara - To cost and arm and a leg

When something is very expensive, so much so that if feels like they’re taking a part of you. A similar expression is hipotecar un riñon (mortgage a kidney), or also costar un riñón.  But, as we’ve discussed in the past, you won’t be using this expression much during your stay if you follow our advice because you’ll always find incredible plans at even more incredible prices.

Ser la caña  - To be awesome

The best of the best. When someone or something is “la caña”, it means that it’s awesome, unique, one-of-a-kind and that if there were more people or things like it the world would be a much better and more fun place. Think of your best friend, for example: I’ll bet s/he’s la caña!

you'll feel like a smiling balloon after you hear these top 10 common Spanish expressions

Tener mucho morro/cara/jeta - To have a lot of nerve

To be very bold and shameless. This applies to people who are pushy (always asking for favours without giving anything in return) or who transgress social conventions but with some degree skill or grace (e.g., skipping a queue or sneaking in for free somewhere when someone’s not looking).

Vale - Okay

The English equivalent of OK. It denotes agreement or understanding and is also used as a tagline in questions to make sure the recipient has understood the message. It is commonly used in a variety of situations and by people of all ages. Spaniards use it a lot! This is probably the most useful Spanish expression on this list. 

- ¿Quieres que vayamos esta noche a dar una vuelta? - ¡Vale!

- “Do you want to go for a ride tonight?” “Okay!”

- Pásame ese documento antes de las 12, ¿vale?

- “Send me that document before 12:00, okay?”

Ser la leche - To be amazing

When something or someone causes us to be surprised in a good or bad way. 

- Me encanta este sitio, ¡es la leche!

- “I love this place. It’s amazing!”

- Arturo no me ha contestado todavía y tengo que hacer la reserva, ¡este tío es la leche!

- “Arthur hasn't answered me yet and I have to make the reservation. I can’t believe this guy!”

No tener un duro - To be broke

One duro was equal to five pesetas, the currency in Spain before the euro. The value of a duro was so low that the only thing you could buy with it was a piece of gum. So if you don’t have a penny to your name, you don't have a duro, and it means that you’re staying home tonight.

- Me encantaría ir al cine con vosotros, pero no tengo un duro

- “I'd love to go to the movies with you guys, but I’m broke.”

¡Qué guay!Cool!

When a person, thing, or place is particularly awesome or extraordinary, Spaniards say it’s guay. You can also use it to say that you had a great time (“Last night was really fun!” / ¡Ayer fue guay!) or that you agree with and affirm something (“Fine with me. Let’s order sushi!” / Por mi guay. ¡Pidamos sushi!)

As you can see, there are plenty of common Spanish expressions you can use to communicate in a direct, colloquial and fun way with friends, family and co-workers. The good thing is that because Spaniards are very open, you’ll have plenty of time and opportunities to practice them. And before you know it these Spanish expressions and many other will be part of your everyday vocabulary.

If you're trying to learn more about Spanish and Spain, check out one of the most typical Spanish things in existence: the Spanish omelette or tortilla. Download a free recipe below:

Download Free Recipe: How to Make a Spanish Omelette


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