Can You Translate These Popular Spanish Sayings into English?

By: Heather Cahill
Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Buenos días! Brush up on your Spanish and the quirky, wise, and meaningful sayings that are found in the language. Like English, sayings in the Spanish language touch on a variety of subjects. Most Spanish sayings have an English counterpart that may directly or indirectly translate. There are even a few that don't really mean much or make sense in English at all. What is your favorite Spanish saying?

Do you know what "Al mal tiempo, buena cara" means in English? Do you know what the wise "Más vale solo que mal acompañado" means when translated into English? How about the simple choice of "plata o plomo"? Know your conjugations and your key Spanish words to figure out these sayings!

Can you translate the saying, "Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente"? What about the wise saying, "Moro viejo nunca será buen cristiano"? Do you know the translation of the pleasant saying, "Del tal palo, tal astilla"? If those are too easy, do you know the true meaning of the popular phrase "despacito"? These sayings may not be what you think they are!

If you're fluent in Spanish, or if you're talented at translation, this quiz will put you to the test. Take it to see how well you really know your Spanish sayings!

What is the English translation of "El que madruga coge agua clara"?

The correct translation is: "He who gets up early gets the clear water." This is similar to the English meaning, which is "The early bird gets the worm."

What is the correct translation of "Cuentas claras amistades largas" in English?

The correct translation is: "Long friendships, clear accounts." The meaning of the saying is to keep your friendships less complicated by paying what you owe or fulfilling your debts to your friends and likewise.

What does the phrase "Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos" mean in English?

The phrase directly translates to "Raise crows and they will peck your eyes out." The meaning of the phrase refers to ungratefulness after helping someone.

The phrase "Cuando el río suena, agua lleva" means what in English?

This phrase means "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Literally, the phrase is: "When the river dreams, it brings water," but takes on the same meaning of our phrase from English.

What is the English translation of "plata o plomo?"

The correct translation is: "Silver or lead." The meaning of the saying is, "Take my offering or be killed." It would be used to tell someone to take a bribe and go on their way.

What is the English translation of "Zapatero a tus zapatos?"

The correct translation is "mind your own business." The saying can also take on other similar meanings, such as "stick to what you know."

What is the English translation of "El que la hace, la paga?"

The correct translation of this saying is "He who lives by the sword dies by the sword." The saying means that you need to face the consequences of your actions.

What is the English translation of "Más ven cuatro ojos que dos?"

The correct translation is: "Four eyes see better than two." The meaning of the saying is similar to the English saying, "Two heads are better than one," meaning that working together can be more effective and helpful.

What is the English translation of "Con panciencia y con maña, un elefant se comió una araña"?

This translates to: "With patience and skill an elephant ate a spider." The phrase takes on the same meaning as the English phrase, "Take it one step at a time."

What does the saying "mas vale tarde que nunca" translate to in English?

The correct translation is: "Better late than never." The meaning of this saying is the same as it is in English, quite literally meaning that even getting something in late, or doing something late is better than never doing it.

What is the English translation: "Papar moscas"?

The correct translation is: "To daydream." This has the same meaning in English, and speaks of the act of daydreaming and how it can snap you out of reality.

What is the English translation of "Cada loco con su tema?"

The translation of this saying is: "To each his own." The meaning is that each person has their own opinions and things that they enjoy.

What is the translations of "Año nuevo, vida nueva" in English?

The translation of the phrase is "New year, new life." This takes on the same meaning as English phrases like "new year, new me" and means you have a new chance to live.

What does "despacito" mean in English?

"Despacito" may be a popular song, but many people may not know what the word means. The word's meaning in English is "slowly."

What is the English translation of "Más vale solo que mal acompañado?"

The correct translation is: "It's better to be alone than to be in bad company." The meaning of the saying is to surround yourself with good people, but if you can't, being alone may be better after all.

The saying "Hierba mala nunca muere" translates to what in English?

The correct translation is: "Bad weeds never die." This phrase is commonly used in a joking manner, and can be used to make a person feel better as well.

What is the English translation of "A pan de quince días, hambre de tres semanas"?

The correct translation is: "A 15-day bread, a three-week hunger." The equivalent of the phrase in English is, "Beggars can't be choosers."

The English translation of "Calladita te ves mas bonita" is what?

The correct translation is: "You look prettier when you're quiet." This is not as harsh as it may sound, as it is used as a way to tell someone to stay out of something or ask them to be quiet.

What is the English translation of "Las palabras se las ileva el viento?"

The correct translation is: "Actions speak louder than words." The phrase has the same meaning in both languages which is used to say that anyone can say something, but to act on it is important.

What does the phrase "Barriga llena, corazòn contento" mean in English?

This Spanish phrase directly translates to, "Full belly, happy heart." The phrase is used to say that when one has all of their needs fulfilled, they will be happy.

What does the phrase "Hablando del rey de Roma, por la puerta se asoma" mean?

The correct meaning is "Speak of the devil and he'll appear." It means the same thing as the English translation of the phrase does.

What is the English translation of "Moro viejo nunca será buen cristiano?"

The correct translation is: "An old Moor will never be a good Christian." This is similar to the English saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks."

What does the saying "hijo de tigre pintito" translate to in English?

The correct translation of this saying is: "The son of the tiger has spots." The meaning of the saying is that a son or daughter is just like their parents.

What does the phrase "Quien fue a Sevilla perdió su silla" translate to in English?

The correct translation is: "Whoever goes to Sevilla loses their seat." In English, this means that if you leave, you will lose your spot whether it be in line or a waiting room.

What is the translation of "Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres" in English?

The correct translation is: "Tell me who you walk with and I'll tell you who you are." The meaning of the saying is that you can tell who someone is by the people with whom they surround themselves.

What does the saying "no caerá esa breva" translate to in English?

The saying translates to "No such luck." The saying is used the same way as it is in English, meaning that someone was unlucky or that something has not happened.

What does the saying "Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente" translate to in English?

The correct translation is: "Out of sight, out of mind." It has the same meaning as the English saying, meaning that if something is no longer in your life, you'll think about it less.

What is the English translation of "Del tal palo, tal astilla?"

This saying can be translated to a couple of different English sayings. In addition to, "a chip off the old block," it can also mean "like father, like son."

What is the English translation of "Del dicho al hecho hay un buen trecho?"

The correct translation is: "Easier said than done." The meaning of the saying is the same, that it's much easier to say something than to act on it.

What is the English translation of "Dar en el clavo?"

The correct translation is: "Hit the nail on the head." The meaning of the phrase is the same as it is in English, as it is used to say that somebody did a great job.

What is the English translation of "Lavar cerdos con jabón es perder tiempo y jabón?"

The correct translation is: "Washing pigs with soap is to lose time and sop." The saying talks about wasting your time when doing something.

The phrase "Al mal tiempo, buena cara" means what in English?

The phrase directly translates to, "Bad weather, good face." The true meaning of the phrase is that when things go wrong, be brave and overcome it.

What is the English translation of "Como el que oye llover"?

The correct translation is: "Like the one who hears the rain." An English saying with the same meaning is: "It fell on deaf ears," used to say that someone has ignored something you've said to try to help them.

What is the English translation of "Mucho ayuda el que no estorba?"

The English translation is: "The best way to help is to not get in the way." The meaning of the phrase is that sometimes the biggest help you can offer someone is to leave them alone to work on themselves.

What does the saying "Caballo regalado no se le mira el diente" translate to in English?

The correct translation is: "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth." The saying is used to tell someone to be grateful for any gift that they receive, no matter what it is.

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