When I go to another country, I usually like to try and pass as a local. I can assure you that to speak the language of the street or “la lengua de la calle”, letting people know that you are genuinely interested in their language and culture is the best way to go.

If you are like me and you want to impress and get quickly friendly with the locals, here are 10 common Spanish phrases that you can use to prove them that you are a true Spaniard in the soul. You can also check on Cristina’s blog about different ways to learn Spanish in Madrid.

Event to practice Spanish in Madrid

1. Se le va la pinza

“He is losing the clothespin” it’s an expression that is understood as someone who is losing his mind. Try telling this to somebody when you see a person going crazy or doing something stupid on the street. You’ll see that you will immediately put a smile on your listener’s face.

2. Tu casa queda en el quinto pino” o “tu casa queda en Mordor

signals that you are going somewhere very far away within the proximity of the city/place you live in. Of course, the second sentence might sound more familiar to you since it’s a reference from “Lord of The Rings”. Just like in the book/movie, Frodo and Sam have to get to Mordor to destroy the Ring on a journey that lasts forever. So you know what to tell a friend next time you don’t want to go to his house (whether it’s actually true or not 😉 ).

3. echar un polvo

We might have some “romances” when we come to a new country. But let’s face it, we usually are more informal when we refer to love and sex among friends or closed ones. If you want to refer to having sex in a more familiar but not vulgar manner in Spanish, you can use the expression “echar un polvo” which translates literally to “throw a dust”. Who knows why, maybe our ancestors in Spain preferred to do it in the dirt than in a nice comfy bed.

4. no me rayes

Have you ever played a CD, DVD or a video game only to find out that the disc doesn’t work anymore? You turn it around and you realize it’s full of scratches and it’s ruined. Well, in Spanish we have an expression for people who are “scratched”. When somebody is making your head explode with his comments you would use the expression “no me rayes”. This literally means “do not scratch me”. We don’t want your precious brain to get messed up, use that one with friends who are teasing you with their comments!

common Spanish phrases
SPEAK event to watch world cup in Madrid – Yep! That’s me in the back all happy.

5. una de

In Spain, we try to be efficient with words (or lazy, pick your choice). To order a tapa, just simply start off with these words: “una tapa de” followed by the kind of food you want to eat. But if you want to look like a pro you just simply say “una de” or “un” which basically translates for “one of”.

If you know how to say “Una de tortilla, una de jamón, una de pimientos, una de aceitunas.” you will never be hungry. Of course, there is the traditional “una caña por favor” – “a beer please” that you should get accustomed to. This will definitely be on of your most used common Spanish phrases.

6. es pan comido

There is probably nothing easier than eating bread right? I know that doesn’t make much sense, right?! Believe it or not, we use “es pan comido” (it’s eaten bread) to refer to something or a task that doesn’t require much effort.

7. Darle la vuelta a la tortilla

Yes, we like food very much in Spain. At the end of the day, Spanish gastronomy is one of the most varied and richest in the world. That’s why we have a lot of expressions associated with food. “Darle la vuelta a la tortilla” is another one of them. Still to this day, it hurts to call a tortilla a Spanish omelette, because its flavor and texture differ a lot from your traditional omelette. Don’t believe me and wanna find out? Come to Spain. By the way, the expression means “turning things the other way around to your favor”. I got sidetracked for a moment there sorry. From the most common Spanish phrases this is probably my favorite.

8. Vamonos de fiesta, joder!

Imagine the following: you are at a party in Madrid in the apartment of Ernesto. People are getting too lazy to go out and want to stay in. The guy/girl that interests you is speaking to somebody else. Your friend Jorge who just vomited in the bathroom wants to do shots with you. Spotify is playing Despacito again, let’s face it, that song will keep nagging us. Well, at least until Luis Fonsi sh*** out another summer hit. That’s when you get up and shout: “Vamonos de fiesta, joder!”. Okay, doesn’t need to be an Erasmus party, but if you scream that expression in any situation. This basically translates to “let’s leave and party!”, you will be the boss of the night and everybody will respect you as a foreigner and a local.

9. Es coña = I am kidding

Still to this day, I don’t know why it means that. We like to tease and to make fun of everything and everybody, so you will probably be asking a lot if people are joking: “es coña no?” (=are you joking?).  Not to confuse with “Coño!” which is the vulgar way of saying “Shit!” or “Damn!”. This is probably one of the most common Spanish phrases.

10. Tío or tía

In Spain, we refer to friends as “tío” or “tía”. In Madrid, we can also refer to each other as “tronco” or “tronca”. Just as “tío” and “tía” mean “uncle or “aunt”, “tronco” and “tronca” mean “trunk” but they are more widely used to refer to friends in a less formal way. No particular reason, just trust me one this one .

SPEAK can help you master these and more common Spanish phrases as the groups to learn and practice a language are with locals.

Trust me you can be sure to have an edge when you come to Spain if you know these common Spanish phrases, naturally would be better to learn more ;). You will be acting like a true local and immerse yourself in the Spanish slang quicker than anybody else. Come explore Madrid and learn even more in the company of locals with SPEAK at groups to learning or free and open events for everyone!

Author: Ignacio Granda

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