Just like you can’t control the rain, you can’t possibly control every conversation your Spanish language journey may lead you into.
You can, however, bring an umbrella.
Luckily, for a sometimes awkward conversationalist like myself, the weather in Madrid is sporadic enough (and extreme enough) to always be a relevant topic when I find myself grasping at straws to make small talk.
While it may be the easiest way to strike up conversation with a stranger, discussing the weather is also seen as the indicator that conversation has gotten a little awkward or dull when talking with close friends.
Either way, it’s certainly the conversation default no matter what culture you’re coming from and, for this reason, it’s a vital tool to have while trying to navigate small talk in a foreign language.
Let’s get you started with the basic weather expressions and then we’ll build to some fun phrases about weather that really get a conversation flowing!
70+ Spanish Weather Expressions That Will Never Fail You
The Basics: Asking About the Weather
Knowing the weather ahead of time, especially when in a foreign country, can be the difference between having a disastrous day or a glorious one. For this reason, knowing how to ask about weather is fundamental when traveling. Here is the most basic way to ask what the weather is like in Spanish:
¿Qué tiempo hace?
Literal translation: What weather it makes?
Figurative translation: What’s the weather like?
In Spanish, the word tiempo is extremely versatile. Depending upon the context, it can be used to mean any one of the following:
- A moment
- An era
- A half (in a sports event entretiempo or medio tiempo is “half-time”)
- Cycle (think wash cycle for clothing)
- Tempo or movement (music)
- Tense (grammar)
Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s continue with the use of tiempo as it relates to weather. A couple other alternatives for asking about the weather are:
¿Cómo está el tiempo? — How’s the weather?
¿Qué clima hace? — What’s the weather like?
¿Cómo está el clima? — How’s the weather?
Note that the Spanish word clima is preceded by the masculine article el despite its feminine a ending. There are lots of words that break the gender rule like this in Spanish and, unfortunately, just have to be memorized.
As you can see, whereas in English the word “climate” isn’t used to talk about current weather conditions, in Spanish el clima can be synonymous for el tiempo (weather) in small talk. However, it is also used to speak of climate just like in English.
Single Verb Weather Expressions
Although many Spanish weather expressions require the verbs hacer, haber or estar to be complete, there are a few weather expressions that can also stand alone. Here they are:
Llover (to rain)
Translation: It rains, it’s raining.
Not once, not twice, but on three different occasions I looked out a window while in a room with a Spaniard and uttered the brutally embarrassing words: está llorando.
This, you may have noticed, does not mean “it’s raining” as I would have liked to say, but rather “it’s crying.” Maybe they just took me for a poetic soul and assumed I was referring to the big guy upstairs, but more than likely they took me for a very confused guiri (foreigner).
Está lloviendo would have been the correct sentence for the moment, but a simple llueve is also appropriate as the verb llover needn’t rely upon estar to be a complete thought.
Nevar (to snow)
Translation: It snows, it’s snowing.
If I would have had the chance to comment on the snow in Madrid in the past two years I’m sure I would have found an equally mortifying phrase to embarrass myself with, but—alas—the closest thing to snow I’ve seen here has been more like aguanieve (literally: “water ice”) which means “sleet.”
Just like with the verb llover, to say “it’s snowing” the Spanish verb nevar can be used in two different ways: está nevando or nieva.
It’s important to note that nieve with an e ending is the noun for snow and not the expression for “it’s snowing” as this is a common confusion for English speakers.
Tronar (to thunder)
Translation: It thunders, it’s thundering.
Once again, truena or está tronando are equally viable options.
Chispear/Lloviznar (to drizzle)
Translation: It drizzles, it’s drizzling.
Está chispeando and está lloviznando are alternative ways to express the same thought.
While WordReference.com would say that these two words are synonymous, my Spanish husband argues that chispear refers to that moment when you first notice a few drops falling from the sky whereas lloviznar is more of a steady, but extremely light rain.
Using the Verb Hacer to Discuss the Weather
The Spanish verb hacer is going to become your best friend when discussing the weather. It’s the most basic and common verb to use when speaking of weather in a general sense but can be hard to get used to since it translates literally into English as “to do” or “to make” which can be confusing.
Here’s a list of common weather phrases that use the verb hacer. Notice that the literal translation for all of these phrases is “it makes” but the figurative translation is “it is.”
Hace (muy) buen tiempo — The weather is (very) good
Hace un día (muy) despejado — It’s a (very) clear day
Hace (muy) mal tiempo — The weather is (very) bad (un tiempo revuelto — unsettled weather)
Hace un día (muy) tormentoso — It’s a (very) stormy day (la tormenta — storm)
Hace (mucho) frío — It’s (very) cold
Hace (mucho) calor — It’s (very) hot
Hace (mucho) fresco — It’s (very) brisk/chilly
Hace (mucho) sol — It’s (very) sunny
Hace un día (muy) soleado — It’s a (very) sunny day
Hace (mucho) viento — It’s (very) windy (una racha — a gust of wind)
Hace aire — It’s breezy (la brisa — breeze)
Using the Verbs Haber and Estar to Discuss the Weather
The verbs haber and estar are also extremely useful when forming weather expressions in Spanish. When haber is used it is always in the hay form, and estar is always in the third-person singular form which is está. Although hay means “there is/there are,” it’s usually translated to “it is” when speaking about weather.
As you’ll notice, the phrases that are formed by these verbs can sometimes be used interchangeably. The following is a list that gives you both the haber and estar phrase options when it comes to discussing weather. I already mentioned some of the most basic estar phrases when I spoke on the single verb weather expressions so I’ve left some of those ones out.
Está nublado/Hay nubes — It’s cloudy (I’ve also heard that hace nubes is okay, although in Spain this is definitely not used)
Está lloviznando/Hay lloviznas — It’s sprinkling
Está lloviendo muy fuerte/Hay lluvias torrenciales — It’s pouring
Está granizando/Hay granizo — It’s hailing (una granizada —a hailstorm)
Está abochornado — It’s muggy (un bochorno — sultry or muggy weather)
Hay humedad/Está húmedo — It’s humid
Hay niebla — It’s foggy
Hay neblina — It’s misty
Hay tormenta — It’s stormy
Hay relámpagos — It’s lightning
Hay un huracán — There’s a hurricane
Hay un tornado — There’s a tornado
Hay un terremoto — There’s an earthquake
Hay una inundación — There’s a flood
Hay sol — The sun is shining
Hay luna — The moon is out
Now that you’ve learned the basics, it’s time to start making weather personal. After all, that’s why it’s such an important discussion topic to begin with—it personally affects us all on a daily basis! Here’s a list of expressions that you can use to describe how the weather is affecting your personal state of well-being.
Spanish Expressions for Discussing More Extreme Weather
¿Tienes frío/calor? — Are you cold/hot?
Estoy (muy) sudado(a) — I’m (very) sweaty
¡Estoy sudando como un pollo! — I’m sweating like a chicken! (Think: I’m sweating like a pig!)
Me estoy asando — I’m roasting
Estoy cocido(a) — I’m boiling (hot)
Estoy congelado(a)/Estoy helado(a) — I’m freezing cold/I’m frozen
¡Qué frío/calor tengo! — I am so cold/hot!
Me muero de calor/frío — I’m dying of heat/cold
Soy muy friolero(a) — I’m a wimp when it comes to the cold (the word friolero(a) doesn’t exist in English). In Latin America, they say friolento(a).
Common Spanish Expressions for Discussing the Weather
Ever tried to literally translate the common English saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” from English to Spanish? Don’t. In Spanish that would sound nothing short of absurd. Here you’ll find the correct Spanish equivalent for that phrase and more unique Spanish expressions concerning weather.
A lot of these phrases are ones that I heard (and said) a lot this past summer here in Madrid where we hit the hundreds in June.
Hace un calor tremendo — It’s scorching hot
Hace un calor… — This means the same thing as the phrase above, but the tremendo part is understood without being stated.
Hace un + your word of choice (frío, calor, viento) is a simple formula for really getting across the extreme degree of cold or heat or wind at any given moment. Your intonation has to go up at the end of the final word, however, for this phrase to work. You also have to kind of drag out the final vowel.
¡Ay qué calor! — It’s so hot!
¡Qué frío/calor hace! — It’s really cold/hot!
Hace muchísimo frío/calor — It’s very, very cold/hot
Aquí siempre hace mucho frío/calor en esta época — It’s always very cold/hot here at this time of the year
Hace un día horrible — It’s a horrible day (weather wise that is)
Hace un día muy bueno/malo — It’s a very good/bad day
No hace nada de frío/calor — It’s not cold/hot at all
Hace un frío que pela — Literally: It makes a cold that peels, figuratively: It’s freezing cold.
Estamos a ____ grados (bajo cero) — We are at ____ degrees (below zero)
Está lloviendo a cántaros — It’s raining cats and dogs (“un cántaro” is a jug or pitcher so you can kind of see where they’re coming from with this saying)
La primavera, la sangre altera — Think: “Spring is in the air.” (Literally: “The spring, the blood alters.”)
Hasta el 40 de mayo, no te quites el sayo — Don’t take your sweater off until May 40th
May 40th is a silly way of saying June 9th. This extremely madrileño (from Madrid) phrase refers to the fact that Madrid weather can be a bit fickle so you shouldn’t assume there will be no rain or cold just because the summer weather seems to have arrived. Sayo is an old-fashioned Spanish word meaning “smock” or “tunic” but would refer to a sweater in modern times.
Here are a couple more Madrid-specific phrases concerning the summer heat that I am currently becomingly more personally acquainted with.
Por mucho que quiera ser, en julio poco ha de llover — As much as it wants to rain, in July it will do so very little
Julio caliente, quema al más valiente — July heats and burns even the bravest
En agosto, sandía y melón buen refresco son — In August, watermelon and melon are good refreshment.
I’ve already been eating quite a bit of both this summer.
Agosto, fríe el rostro — August fries your face
Feel sorry for me—the face-frying worst is yet to come.
Here’s a fun song by Efecto Pasillo, a band from the Canary Islands (where I’m going to escape the Madrid heat for a week this summer!) to listen to while you reflect on all you’ve learned. The basic message of the song is that the weather doesn’t matter as long as you’re close to someone you love. I’ve included some of the lyrics below with a translation.
No importa que llueva
si estoy cerca de ti
La vida se convierte en juego de niños
cuando tú estás junto a mí.
Si hay nieve o si truena
si estoy cerca de ti
Eh, no tengo mucho que ofrecerte ves,
un par de canciones pa’ cantarte bien.
En mi cartera treinta primaveras de amor
mis poemas pa’ todo el mes.
Escucho los latidos de tu corazón
son pasos que se acercan más y más a mí
El mundo gira como un vals
y bailo al son de tu vivir.
Y ahora mira niña escúchame…
Te llevaré a donde la luz del sol nos mueva
donde los sueños ahora están por construir
Te enseñaré a nadar entre un millón de estrellas
Si te quedas junto a mí….
It doesn’t matter that it’s raining
If I’m near you
Life becomes child’s play
When you’re next to me
If there’s snow or if it thunders
If I’m near you
Eh I don’t have much to offer you, you see
A couple of songs to sing well to you
In my wallet thirty springs of love
My poems for the whole month
I listen to your heartbeats
They’re steps that come closer and closer to me
The world turns like a waltz
And I dance to the sound of your life
And now look girl listen to me
I’ll take you to where the light of the sun moves us
Where dreams are yet to be built
I’ll show you how to swim amongst a million stars
If you stay with me
So, thanks to all these great expressions you’ll finally have a linguistic umbrella to bring with you to every Spanish conversation.
You’ll be prepared, rain or shine!
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If you practice these expressions I can assure you that you’ll be shielded from some of the inevitable embarrassment that comes along with making small talk in a foreign language.
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