10 Spanish Sayings About Life That Will Change Your Perspective

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!

In this post, we’ll look at 10 basic 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 — 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 means you should go with the sure 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. 

In the English version of this saying, the birdies are all off hiding somewhere, and you might not know their exact whereabouts or if they even exist.

Meanwhile, in the Spanish version, the birds are flying and completely beyond your reach. You tell me which you find more powerful.

2. Al que madruga, Dios lo ayuda — 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. 

Unlike the English-speaking bird reaping the rewards of his own effort to get up at the crack of dawn, the person in the Spanish saying is assisted by Dios (God) as a reward for this behavior.

Colloquially, this Spanish saying is often used in a cute way to encourage someone to go to sleep early. 

3. Nunca es tarde si la dicha es buena — 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.

Imagine you arrive late to a dinner or lunch with friends and everyone has already ordered and been munching on snacks—but you spy some good-looking food left on all the scattered tapas (appetizer) plates.

Well, use this little saying, get a laugh from your friends and dig in! 

You can also 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.”

4. Dale la mano y te tomará el brazo — 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 an insult or a way to describe someone who tends to take advantage of situations. 

Just imagine offering your hand to help someone, only to have them pull you in by your whole arm—or perhaps even literally take your arm. Ouch.

Therefore, you can apply this saying to describe companies, politicians or any individual you feel is abusing help or resources.

Use it in personal situations, venting about someone who took advantage of your generosity or when warning or commiserating with a friend.

5. No puede haber pollo en corral y cazuela — You can’t have your cake and eat it too

Literal translation: There can’t be chickens in the corral and in the pot

The word cazuela is both for the pot used to cook as well as the sort of soup or stew you can cook in it. 

Cazuela is a name given to many different traditional soup concoctions throughout Latin America, and the actual dish will vary by region. 

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 to globe-trot and sample all the cazuelas of the world.

6. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente/llora — Ignorance is bliss

Literal translation: What the eyes don’t see, the heart doesn’t feel/cry

This expression has two variations and both are acceptable. You can either use the verb sentir (to feel) or llorar (to cry) at the end.

If you ask any native Spanish speaker if this verb switch has an effect on the meaning of the expression, they’ll most likely respond that they use both versions interchangeably without noticing. Feel free to do the same!

This handy little saying is a good one to use to console a friend—especially if you’re telling her to unfriend her ex-boyfriend on Facebook so she can’t stare at his pictures and cry over what’s in the past.

7. No hay mal que dure cien años — 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. 

This one is a personal favorite because it was the first Spanish saying I learned while at a coffee shop in Costa Rica, describing a painful situation in my broken Spanish to a tica (young Costa Rican girl).

She was a very patient listener and taught me this expression by writing it out on a bar-side tissue in red ink.

8. En la variedad está el gusto — 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!

9. Si te caes siete veces, levántate ocho — If you fall, get up and try again

Literal translation: If you fall seven times, get up eight

This saying is sure to encourage you to stick through the hard times.

It emphasizes that even though you might be beat down time and time again, you can still get up and make it. 

No matter how rough a situation might be, it’s always worth it to be resilient and come back even stronger than before.

10. Adonde fueres, haz lo que vieres — When in Rome, do as the Romans do


Literal translation: Wherever you go, do what you see

In other words, you should follow whatever the locals do when you visit somewhere new. 

Everywhere has different customs and social norms, so the best way to fit in is to observe and don’t count something out just because it’s unfamiliar.

If you follow the locals’ leads, you will open yourself up to a whole new experience, so next time you’re in a Spanish-speaking country (or any new country), pay attention! 

Reasons to Learn Spanish Sayings

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. 

How to Practice Spanish Sayings

  • Say them out loud. Even if you’re not talking to anyone, repetition is key. Saying the phrases out loud will reinforce their meaning in your memory.
  • Watch Spanish media to see how these sayings are used. FluentU is a great resource for this as you will see native speakers using the language naturally. Hearing these sayings be used by native speakers will solidify your understanding of their application.
  • Find a native Spanish speaker with whom you can practice your sayings. Even if you don’t know a native speaker, you can connect with one through a language exchange or tutor program. Verbling is a great online resource for finding the right Spanish tutor for you.
  • Draw them out. A lot of times, visuals will help you learn words by associating them with an image. Drawing out your own visuals for Spanish sayings will reinforce their meaning in multiple ways.
  • Use them in your own writing. Write them in a letter, email or text message to practice incorporating them into your speech. You could also write a dialogue or short story. Plus, writing the phrases helps you figure out what context they are used in. 


Try using these sayings with your profesora (teacher) or Spanish-speaking friends.

¡Hasta la próxima, amigos! (Until next time, friends!)

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