Tag: El callejero

Expresiones idiomáticas con DAR

One of the most difficult aspects of a language to master is the usage of idiomatic expressions.  Idiomatic expressions are phrases that carry a specific meaning within the language. Normally, there is no logical way of translating them word by word. The only way to learn them is to
memorize them, and to practice their use. Below, you will find a series of Spanish idiomatic expressions grouped by types, according to the verb or the preposition they contain, and their English counterparts.

dar a conocer: to make known

dar gritos: to shout

dar a luz: to give birth

dar gusto: to please

dar un abrazo: to embrace, to hug

dar la hora: to strike the hour

dar asco: to disgust

dar gato por liebre: to deceit, to swindle, to gyp

dar las gracias: to thank

dar brincos: to jump

dar guerra: to cause a lot of trouble

dar los buenos días/tardes: to say good morning/afternoon

dar largas: to prolong an affair

dar calabazas: to jilt; to flunk

dar lata: to make a nuisance of oneself

dar la cara: to take responsibility

dar lugar a: to give cause for

dar carta blanca: to give someone a free hand

dar una mano: to lend a hand

dar con: to come upon; to find

dar lo mismo: to make no difference

dar con la puerta en las narices: to slam the door in one’s face

dar la nota: to stand out

dar cuenta de: to give a report on

dar pena a: to aggrieve

dar cuerda a: to wind

dar que hablar: to give grounds for criticism

dar de alta: to discharge (a patient)

dar que hacer: to cause trouble

dar(se) de baja: to drop or unsubscribe (from a list)

dar que pensar: to give grounds for suspicion

dar de beber / comer: to give a drink / to feed

dar palos de ciego: to swing out wildly

dar de palos: to beat; to thrash

dar parte: to inform

dar en el clavo / blanco: to hit the mark, to hit the nail on the head

dar un paseo: to take a walk

darse por aludido: to take it personally

dar a/por hecho: to take for granted

dar por muerto: to consider dead

dar por sentado: to take for granted

dar razón: to give account

dar la razón: to agree with

dar recuerdos a: to give regards to

dar rienda suelta a: to give free rein to

dar al traste con: to destroy; to spoil

dar voces: to shout

dar vueltas a: to think something over

dar una vuelta: to take a stroll

darse a: to devote oneself to

darse cuenta de: to realize

darse ínfulas: to put on airs

darse la mano: to shake hands

darse por + past participle: to consider oneself

darse por vencido: to give up

darse prisa: to hurry

dársela a uno: to make a fool out of someone

dárselas de: to pose as; to claim to be

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El foco y la foca

Is el foco the masculine of the word la foca? No quite so!

El foco has several meanings including the commonly-used word light bulb:

  • El baño está oscuro porque se quemó el foco. The bathroom is dark because the light bulb is burned out.

La foca means seal:

  • Las focas son animales mamíferos. Seals are mammals.

Other translations of el foco:

  • El foco de la investigación fue el lavado de dinero. The focal point of the investigation was the money laundering.
  • Times Square es un gran foco turístico. Times Square is an important touristic epicenter.
  • El actor debe estar debajo del foco durante su monólogo. The actor must be underneath the spotlight during his monologue.

By the way, the masculine for la foca is el foca, and remember that ‘focus’ is a false friend. The Spanish word for “focus” is “atención” or “concentratión”.

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El cuento y la cuenta

You probably know what “la cuenta” means if you have been at a Spanish restaurant.  “El cuento” is not a bill just for boys. It means a tale, a short story, or simply, a story.

  • Un cuento chino: a complicated and unbelievable story, a cock-and-bull story.
  • Tener más cuento que calleja: to be full of excuses.
  • Vivir del cuento: to live without working, to live on or by one’s wits.
  • Ser un cuentista: literally, to be a storyteller; figuratively, to lie, to exaggerate.
  • No venir a cuento: not to be relevant, to be unimportant or unrelated to the subject discussed.
  • El cuento de nunca acabar: the never-ending story.
  • Un cuento de viejas: an old wives’ tale.
  • Dejarse de cuentos: to stop lying or giving excuses.
  • Cuento largo: long story
  • Estar en el cuento: to be well informed, to be in the know.
  • El cuento de la lechera: to build castles in the air.
  • Venir con cuentos: to tell lies or an unbelievable story.
  • Un cuento de hadas: a fairy tale.


¿Quieres saber más sobre el origen de la frase “un cuento chino”? Visita el interesante blog: Hablando de palabras.

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Expresiones con la palabra “año”

  • A mitad de año: halfway through the year, at midyear.
  • A lo largo de este año: over the course of this year.
  • A lo largo de los años: over the years.
  • A sus (29, 35, 42, etc) años: at the age of (29, 35, 42, etc) /at (29, 35, 42, etc) years of age.
  • Al año: after a year, within a year.
  • Año bisiesto: leap year.
  • Año calendario: calendar year.
  • Año entrante: the coming year.
  • Año fiscal: tax year, fiscal year.
  • Año lectivo: academic year.
  • Años luz: light years.
  • Año Nuevo: New Year.
  • Año nuevo, vida nueva: a new year, a new start.
  • Año por medio: every other year.
  • Año sabático: sabbatical year.
  • Año santo: Holy Year.
  • Año tras año: year after year.
  • Cada año: each year, annualy.
  • Cada dos años: every other year.
  • ¿Cuántos años tienes?: how old are you?
  • El año académico/escolar: the academic/school year.
  • El año de maricastaña /de la nana /de la pera /de la polca / del catapún (colloquial): the year dot.
  • El año que viene: next year.
  • El año pasado: last year.
  • En aquellos años: in those days, at that time.
  • En los años veinte/treinta/cuarenta, etc: in the twenties/thirties/forties, etc.
  • En mis años mozos: in my youth.
  • Entrado en años: elderly, aged.
  • Estar a años luz de: to be streets ahead of, be light years ahead of.
  • Estar de buen año (colloquial): to be fat and healthy.
  • Hoy cumplo 20 años: I’m twenty today / I’m turning 20 today.
  • Le echo 70 años: I’d say he’s seventy (years old).
  • Los años no pasan en balde: the years take their toll / age takes its toll.
  • No la veo hace años / hace años que no la veo: I haven’t seen her for ages.
  • Por año: per year, annualy.
  • Por ti no pasan los años: you don’t seem to get any older / the years seem to pass you by.
  • Todos los años: every year.
  • Una vez al año: once a year.
  • Un año con otro: taking one year with another.
  • Un año de película: a great year, a wonderful year.


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Expresiones relacionadas a la Navidad

  • Aguinaldo: Christmas bonus, Christmas box money.
  • Árbol de Navidad: Christmas tree.
  • Budín de Navidad: Christmas pudding.
  • Cena de Navidad: Christmas dinner.
  • Corona navideña: Christmas wreath.
  • Día de Navidad: Christmas Day.
  • En Navidad / Navidades / Pascuas: at Christmas (time).
  • ¡Feliz Navidad!: Merry Christmas.
  • Gordo navideño, de Navidad: Christmas jackpot.
  • Lotería de Navidad: Christmas lotto.
  • Luces de Navidad: Christmas lights.
  • Nochebuena: Christmas Eve.
  • Papá Noel: Santa Claus, Father Christmas.
  • Regalo de Navidad: Christmas present, gift.
  • Tarjeta navideña, de Navidad: Christmas card.
  • Tarta de Navidad: Christmas cake.
  • Vacaciones navideñas: Christmas holidays.
  • Villancico: Christmas carol.


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Ándale, ándale!

If you are over thirty and grew up on a steady diet of cartoons, watching and rewatching them until your parents turned off the television and forced you to get productive,  you may have been productive after all, in fact you might even have been learning a little Spanish. Of all the Looney Tunes characters, one of the most memorable members of the cast is Speedy Gonzalez, the fastest Mouse in Mexico. In all likelihood, you probably learned your first Spanish slang word from his trademark ¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba! catchphrase. The word “ándale” is so commonly used in Mexico that it’s hard to find a region in the country where is doesn’t come in handy, yet this word is still absent from most Spanish language dictionaries. Knowing the meaning of this interjection is an absolute essential if you’re interested in communicating in a more expressive way in Spanish.

Similar to other slang words, “ándale” has a wide range of uses and meanings. It can be used to express encouragement, surprise, frustration and affirmation, to name just a few. Meaning can also be inferred through context and the tone of the speaker’s voice, so that even without knowing the meaning, we already know that Speedy is encouraging us. His signature catchphrase “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba¡” actually translates into something comparable to “C’mon, c’mon, giddyup, giddyup!” Here are three ways in which you can use this word:

Ándale, vamos al parque. (Alright, let’s go to the park.)

¡Ándale, tenemos que irnos! (Hurry up! We have to leave!)

¡Ándale, que llegamos tarde a la boda! (Come on, we’re running late to the wedding!)

“Ándale” is as authentically Mexican as it gets and if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is shouting ándale, ándale” at you, you’ll know exactly what to do.  So there you have it, you’re one step closer to speaking Spanish like a true Mexican.  

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Expresiones con la palabra “muerte”

  • Cuestión de vida o muerte: a matter of life and death.
  • Dar muerte a algo / alguien: to kill something or someone.
  • De mala muerte (colloquial): lousy, crappy.
  • De muerte (col.): (susto) terrible; (fantástico) fantastic, terrific, out of this world.
  • Debatirse entre la vida y la muerte: be fighting for one’s life.
  • Estar a dos pasos de la muerte: be at death’s door.
  • Estar a las puertas de la muerte: be at death’s door.
  • Firmar su sentencia de muerte: sign one’s death warrant.
  • Hasta que la muerte nos separe: till death us do part.
  • Herido de muerte: fatally injured.
  • Luchar a / hasta la muerte (literally & figuratively): fight to the death.
  • Muerte cerebral: brain death.
  • Muerte natural: natural death.
  • Odiar a muerte: to detest, loathe.
  • Pena/sentencia de muerte: death penalty/sentence.
  • Pillar/coger un resfriado de muerte: catch one’s death of cold.
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Mexican Slang Essentials: ¿Qué onda?

If you spend any significant amount of time socializing in México, or even here in some parts of the US, “¿Qué onda?” is a question you simply can’t escape from.  Like tacos or mezcal, it is an absolute staple of Méxican culture! So let’s take a look at the meaning of this phrase and its origins.

A common greeting in Mexico and elsewhere in the Spanish-speaking world, “¿Qué onda?” doesn’t have a truly direct translation. The word “onda” in Spanish is the English equivalent of “wave” or “ripple.” So if you took it literally, “¿Qué onda?” would technically mean “What wave?” Certainly, that doesn’t sound like it adds up to much. However, it’s actually an informal greeting that can be more of less interpreted as “What’s up?” Now, you’re probably asking yourself how you get from one to the other, right? Well, “¿Qué onda?” is an expression that took hold in the youth culture of México during the 1960s, and is still in high use today. “Ondas” here are not only “waves” in the seafaring sense, but also in the same way we talk about radio waves or invisible influencing forces – in other words: it’s a way to ask how are things going or what is happening. Another way to use this expression is by adding mala or buena to onda to describe a person or situation. For instance, “¡Qué buena onda!” is a great way to respond to a friend who just told you she got a raise at work. Or you could also say “Mi jefe es buena/mala onda” depending on how much you esteem your boss. Like so many Mexicanisms, it is versatile and highly malleable.

Along with ¿Qué paso?, ¿Qué tal?, and the vulgar ¿Qué pedo?, “¿Qué onda?” is a pretty straight-forward way to say “what’s up” to someone in México. Nonetheless, it is important to note that with a few hand gestures and a change in the tone of your voice, “¿Qué onda?” goes from “what’s up” to “do you got a problem?” in a hurry, so be careful with how you use it!

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Mexican Slang and The Curious Case of “Aguas”

Water is such an essential part of life, and -not surprisingly- it is one of the first words you learn in any language. So I’m sure that you already know that the Spanish word for water is agua, but did you know that this word has other meanings? One common denominator of language is slang, and Spanish is no exception. Let’s hear the story of the word “aguas”.

Mexican slang is creative and, for some, too coarse for comfort. So when Mexicans shout “aguas!” you can guarantee they are not talking about water. Literally, this announcement would translate to “waters,” but in this case “aguas” is being used to tell one to be careful or watch out. Someone is issuing a warning! It is kind of like the way English speakers in the United Sates have applied the term “heads up” to situations requiring immediate attention.

The origin of the “aguas” story goes back to the days before there was a modern sewage treatment system in Mexico. People during this time would collect “dirty” water in their home and before tossing it out into the street from their window or door would shout “aguas!” to politely alert any passerby. However, despite this word’s double meaning and being generations removed from this era in their history, this term is still actively used in Mexico today.

So on your next trip to Mexico (or California for that sake), if you ever hear anyone shouting “¡aguas, aguas!”, be sure to look alive and give a quick heads up!

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Expressions to talk about unfaithfulness

  • Cuernear: to cheat on someone.
  • Cornudo: cuckold.
  • Echar una cana al aire: to cheat on someone, to sow one’s wild oats.
  • Estar de pirata: to go out with a woman in secrecy to hide that you are cheating on your wife.
  • Engañar: to cheat on someone.
  • Tener un romance: to have an affair.
  • Tener una aventura: to have an affair.
  • Tirar(se) una cana al aire: to cheat on someone, to sow one’s wild oats.
  • Pata de lana: the other man.
  • Pegar el salto a alguien: to cheat on someone.
  • Pegársela (a alguien): to cheat on someone.
  • Poner los cuernos a alguien: to cheat on someone.
  • Poner / montar los cachos: to cheat on someone.
  • Sacar la vuelta: to cheat on someone.
  • Ser infiel: to be unfaithful.
  • Serruchar el piso: to undermine someone in order to take something (or someone, in case of a relationship) from them.
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