15 Spanish Sayings About Life To Inspire and Guide You [With Audio Pronunciation]
Learning a language is more than just memorizing grammar and vocabulary—it’s about understanding the language as a way of life.
And to better understand cultural perspective, you can learn different types of sayings to gain a whole new view on the language.
With Spanish sayings about life, you’ll add more variety and depth to your skills and be able to sound more like a native speaker!
In this post, we’ll look at 15 common Spanish sayings that are relevant to day-to-day life and will be accessible to beginners in the language.
- Spanish Sayings About Life
- 1. Más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando
- 2. Al que madruga, Dios lo ayuda
- 3. Más vale tarde que nunca
- 4. Nunca es tarde si la dicha es buena
- 5. Dale la mano y te tomará el brazo
- 6. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente
- 7. No puede haber pollo en corral y cazuela
- 8. No hay mal que dure cien años
- 9. En la variedad está el gusto
- 10. Si te caes siete veces, levántate ocho
- 11. Al mal tiempo, buena cara
- 12. Adonde fueres, haz lo que vieres
- 13. De tal palo, tal astilla
- 14. El hábito no hace al monje
- 15. El mundo es un pañuelo
- How Spanish Sayings Help You Learn
- And One More Thing…
Spanish Sayings About Life
1. Más vale pájaro en mano que cien volando
Meaning: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
Literal translation: A bird in the hand is worth more than one hundred flying
This saying means you should go with the guaranteed thing rather than gambling or holding out for something better to come along.
Sure, things could possibly be better in some other way, but you already have something that you can use to your advantage right now.
2. Al que madruga, Dios lo ayuda
Meaning: The early bird catches the worm
Literal translation: He who wakes early, God helps
This common Spanish saying can be used just as one would use the English equivalent, but in Spanish it is Dios (God) who helps.
Colloquially, this Spanish saying is often used in a cute way to encourage someone to go to sleep early.
3. Más vale tarde que nunca
Meaning: Better late than never
Literal meaning: Better late than never
This phrase is used in the same way as “better late than never” in English, such as when you forget to submit an essay on time, or you wish someone a happy birthday a few days late.
4. Nunca es tarde si la dicha es buena
Meaning: Better late than never
Literal translation: It’s never late, if fortune is good
This saying is specifically used for situations where you or someone else is running late.
You could say this to a friendly bus or taxi driver who arrives much later than the scheduled time. It’s a good-humored way to say, “hey, no worries.”
5. Dale la mano y te tomará el brazo
Meaning: Give a man an inch and he’ll take a mile
Literal translation: Give him your hand and he’ll take your arm
This saying is often used as a way to describe someone who takes advantage of situations, such as a person, a company or politicians.
Use it in personal situations, venting about someone who took advantage of your generosity or when warning or commiserating with a friend.
6. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente
Meaning: Ignorance is bliss
Literal translation: What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel
This expression has two variations and both are acceptable.
This is a good one to use to console a friend—especially if you’re telling her to unfollow her ex-boyfriend on Instagram so she can’t stare at his pictures and cry over what’s in the past.
7. No puede haber pollo en corral y cazuela
Meaning: You can’t have your cake and eat it too
Literal translation: There can’t be chickens in the corral and in the pot
This saying remarks on when an individual’s expectations go beyond the scope of reality.
They want to have something two ways, but can only have it one. For example, you can’t work your 9-5 office job and also take extended, multi-month vacations.
8. No hay mal que dure cien años
Meaning: Time heals all wounds
Literal translation: There is no evil that lasts 100 years
Use this saying to relate to and console an individual undergoing emotional difficulty.
I first learned this saying in a coffee shop in Costa Rica while describing a painful situation in my broken Spanish to a tica (young Costa Rican girl).
9. En la variedad está el gusto
Meaning: Variety is the spice of life
Literal translation: In variety there is taste
This is a fun Spanish saying to throw out at a party or when you feel like trying something new, whether it be a plato (dish), restaurante (restaurant), vino (wine)—anything, really!
10. Si te caes siete veces, levántate ocho
Meaning: If you fall, get up and try again
Literal translation: If you fall seven times, get up eight
This saying emphasizes that even though you might be beat down again and again, you can still get up and make it.
No matter how rough a situation might be, it’s always best to be resilient and come back even stronger than before.
11. Al mal tiempo, buena cara
Meaning: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Look on the bright side
Literal meaning: To bad weather, a happy face
In Spanish, this phrase is used in similar situations to the phrase “look on the bright side” in English.
When you are facing a difficult moment, keep your chin up, remain positive and try to make the best of the situation.
12. Adonde fueres, haz lo que vieres
Meaning: When in Rome, do as the Romans do
Literal translation: Wherever you go, do what you see
Everywhere has different customs and social norms and the best thing you can do when traveling is observe and follow what you see.
If you follow the locals and value their ways of life and language, you will open yourself up to a whole new experience!
This saying also applies to language learning—one of the best ways to learn a language fluently is to pick up local slang and varieties by listening to native speakers.
However, immersion isn’t limited to being in a Spanish-speaking country. You can also have the same experience with native speakers through language exchanges or even Spanish media. For example, you could watch Spanish TV shows and try to pick up Castilian Spanish phrases used in everyday life.
Another useful resource is FluentU. This language learning program has a wide array of bite-sized native Spanish videos accompanied by learning tools.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
13. De tal palo, tal astilla
Meaning: The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, like father like son, like mother like daughter
Literal meaning: From such a stick, such a splinter
De tal palo, tal astilla is used in Spanish when a person is very much like their parent(s). For example, it could refer to their appearance or a characteristic.
This is used similarly to “like father like son” and “like mother like daughter” in English.
14. El hábito no hace al monje
Meaning: Clothes don’t make the man
Literal meaning: The habit doesn’t make the monk
This phrase is commonly used in Spanish to say that you shouldn’t judge a person purely by their appearance.
This saying is a variant of “don’t judge a book by its cover” in English (no juzgues un libro por su portada in Spanish).
15. El mundo es un pañuelo
Meaning: It’s a small world
Literal meaning: The world is a handkerchief
In Spanish, this phrase is often used if you bump into someone you know in an unexpected place.
For example, imagine you are climbing up to visit Machu Picchu and you suddenly spot an old classmate from high school, or perhaps you’ve just seen your boss at the airport.
How Spanish Sayings Help You Learn
Spanish sayings aren’t just fun, but they’ll help improve your language skills. Here’s how:
- You’ll learn advanced vocabulary and verbs. Sayings aren’t often said every day, and they often contain some more complex grammar and verbs that you wouldn’t see in casual conversation. Since sayings are fixed, it can help you grasp their grammar.
- You’ll get some conversation fillers. Sometimes you just don’t know what to say, especially in early conversation. If you know some Spanish sayings, you’ll have more to contribute to a conversation and things will flow a little easier.
- You’ll sound more fluent. Since you won’t be struggling for something to say, these Spanish sayings can help you respond appropriately and demonstrate your understanding of the language. Plus, the fact you even know them demonstrates fluency!
- You’ll get to compare Spanish and English language culture. Looking at the difference in sayings and their translations will show what values each culture emphasizes. For example, you’ll probably notice that Spanish sayings tend to emphasize food and religion compared to their English counterparts.
Try using these sayings with your profesora (teacher) or Spanish-speaking friends.
¡Hasta la próxima, amigos! (Until next time, friends!)
And One More Thing…
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