Let’s not beat around the bush.
Idioms are a dime a dozen, and they’ll help you play it cool.
And if you learn Spanish, you’ll definitely need to learn a lot of Spanish idioms to communicate clearly—we’re not pulling your leg.
But finding the right resources to learn Spanish idioms can be hard. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
We’ll spill the beans on some of the best resources out there.
Why Do You Need to Know Spanish Idioms?
Perhaps most importantly, you need to learn Spanish idioms to understand locals. Whether you’re speaking with Latin American or Castilian Spanish speakers, to understand locals, you’ll need to recognize idioms. If you want to ser uña y carne (literally “to be fingernail and flesh” but similar to the phrase “to be bosom buddies”) with native Spanish speakers, you need to understand what they’re saying, so idioms are key to good relationships.
You’ll also want to learn Spanish idioms to sound like a local if you visit a Spanish-speaking country. Popular idioms can totally make you sound like a local. And sounding like a local will help prevent you from standing out and allow you to experience more authentic culture rather than always being treated as a tourist.
Another reason you’ll want to learn Spanish idioms is because if you hear them and haven’t studied them, you’re likely to be confused. Even if you think that learning idioms es pan comido (literally “is bread eaten,” figuratively “a piece of cake”), it’s harder than you think. Since literal meanings are often widely different from figurative meanings, you might not be able to determine what an idiom means.
Yet another reason is because they’re fun and vivid. There are some truly hilarious Spanish idioms out there. For instance, how often do you get to refer to someone “eating flies”? Not often enough. But you can say someone is comiendo moscas which literally means “eating flies” but figuratively means “going off on tangents.” Sometimes, idioms can be more memorable than standard, literal phrases because they’re just so fun.
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11 Out of This World Resources for Learning Spanish Idioms
1. “The Big Red Book of Spanish Idioms: 12,000 Spanish and English Expressions”
“The Big Red Book of Spanish Idioms” has a lot to offer—4,000 Spanish idioms, 8,000 English expressions, 1,800 Spanish key words with translations and another 1,800 example sentences to be exact. Just look up a key word to find associated idioms.
With extensive cross-referencing, you can easily find idioms using either English or Spanish. This way, you can easily find nearly any phrase you might hear or want to use.
2. “Spanish Idioms”
“Spanish Idioms” is from the well-known “Barron’s Foreign Language Guides.” This guide offers over 2,000 great idioms.
You can look up Spanish idioms and their English meanings or look up English idioms and their Spanish equivalents.
Additionally, since this book is designed specifically for English speakers, it’s very easy to navigate through.
3. “The Red-Hot Book of Spanish Slang: 5,000 Expressions to Spice Up Your Spanish”
“The Red-Hot Book of Spanish Slang” offers 5,000 phrases. You can find the meaning of Spanish idioms or look up the English-language idioms and find their Spanish equivalents.
Spanish-English entries contain the Spanish word or expression, the literal translation, the idiomatic meaning, where the idiom is used and a usage example.
English-Spanish entries contain the English word or expression along with Spanish-language equivalents, their literal meanings, where they’re used and usage examples.
This will make it easy to look up idioms you hear and to study new idioms you might want to incorporate into your vocabulary. Perhaps best of all, the book notes which phrases are vulgar, saving you from embarrassing slip ups and/or international incidents.
4. “Spanish Idioms and Advanced Vocabulary SparkCharts”
“Spanish Idioms and Advanced Vocabulary SparkCharts” offers a lot of stuff, including idiomatic expressions.
Its best feature is its convenient format—it’s a chart that allows you to see idioms easily and carry them around with you to refer back to.
Plus, in addition to idioms, the chart offers colloquialisms, verb expressions, commonly confused words and false cognates. It’s like having your cake and eating it too!
5. “Guide to Spanish Idioms”
While this guide is physically smaller than most, “Guide to Spanish Idioms” is still rich in information.
With over 2,500 idioms organized in Spanish-to-English and English-to-Spanish sections, you can easily find the helpful translations you need to speak and understand colloquial Spanish.
Additionally, the small size makes it much easier to take with you when traveling.
As a bonus, the guide also offers additional sections to improve your Spanish. Learn more about false cognates and words that are inconsistent in their meaning or unusually complex.
6. “2001 Spanish and English Idioms: 2001 Modisimos Españoles e Ingleses”
“2001 Spanish and English Idioms” is another volume from the well-known “Barron’s Foreign Language Guides” line.
As is the case with many idiom guides, “2001 Spanish English Idioms” offers Spanish-to-English and English-to-Spanish translations of idioms along with example sentences.
Additional appendices cover helpful topics like irregular verbs and common abbreviations.
7. “Merriam-Webster’s Easy Learning Spanish Idioms”
“Merriam-Webster’s Easy Learning Spanish Idioms” focuses on teaching you common Spanish idioms.
This isn’t a comprehensive resource for you to look up any idiom you may hear. Instead, it focuses on helping you learn 250 of the most common idioms.
Idioms are arranged by themes including appearance, achievement and so on. Entries include some background information on each idiom and notes on any variations between cultures. The illustrations and humor in the book will keep you entertained while you learn.
While you won’t be able to look up a wide array of different idioms, “Merriam-Webster’s Easy Learning Spanish Idioms” will certainly help you learn some very valuable idioms.
8. “Smart Spanish for Tontos Americanos: Over 3,000 Slang Expressions, Proverbs, Idioms, and Other Tricky Spanish Words and Phrases They Didn’t Teach You in School”
“Smart Spanish for Tontos Americanos” offers 3,000 “slang expressions, proverbs, idioms, and other tricky Spanish words and phrases,” so you’ll have a lot of great information at the tips of your fingers.
This focuses primarily on Mexican and Mexican-American expressions, so it’s great for anyone looking to travel to Mexico or wanting to communicate more fluently with Mexican-Americans.
Rather than being organized like a dictionary, “Smart Spanish for Tontos Americanos” is organized much like a textbook with helpful sections like “expressions” and “slang in Mexico” that will help you easily locate the information you’re most eager to learn.
9. “A+ Best Spanish Idioms”
The “A+ Best Spanish Idioms” app is available through iTunes.
For under a dollar, you’ll have access to a convenient guide to Spanish idioms right in the palm of your hand. You can look up common English-language idioms and find similar Spanish-language idioms and their literal translations. This is an easy way to learn new idioms wherever you are.
10. “Spanish Slang-Proverbs-Idioms”
“Spanish Slang-Proverbs-Idioms” is an app available via Google Play. This free app contains over 3,500 pieces of slang, proverbs and idioms.
You can look up a Spanish phrase or simply browse the phrases. Each entry contains an explanation, literal translation and audio.
Additionally, you can add any great phrases you find to your “favorites” to study more.
11. Language Realm
Language Realm is a free website that offers hundreds of different Spanish-language idioms organized alphabetically.
Each entry offers both the idiomatic meaning and any literal translation, so this is a convenient way to learn new phrases or look up a phrase you’ve heard.
These great idiom resources will have you covered from A to Z, so go ahead and start learning some new Spanish idioms.
The ball is in your court.
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