30 Impressive Spanish Phrases To Leave Others in Awe


We were having breakfast this morning when my husband said:

“Tenemos que ponernos las pilas con lo de la bodega”

I must have looked very puzzled, for he quickly paraphrased:

“Ya es hora de que ordenemos la bodega”.
“It was high time we tidied our storage room.”

“Ponerse las pilas” – another item to my already long list of impressive Spanish phrases. 

Would you like to take a peek?

20 Impressive Phrases in Spanish to Sound Like a Native:

  • 🇪🇸 tomar el pelo – 🇬🇧 to pull someone’s leg, to joke, to be kidding
  • 🇪🇸 dormir la mona – 🇬🇧 to sleep (it) off
  • 🇪🇸 tener mano de monja – 🇬🇧 to be an excellent cook
  • 🇪🇸 tener corazón de abuelita  – 🇬🇧 to be soft-hearted
  • 🇪🇸 rallar la papa – 🇬🇧 to talk nonsense
  • 🇪🇸 echar leña al fuego –  🇬🇧 to add fuel to the fire
  • 🇪🇸 echar el ojo – 🇬🇧 to keep an eye (on someone) but also to have your eye (on something)
  • 🇪🇸 echar humo por las orejas – 🇬🇧 to feel your blood boiling
  • 🇪🇸 meter la pata – 🇬🇧 to mess up
  • 🇪🇸 no pegar ojo – 🇬🇧 not to sleep a wink
  • 🇪🇸 no estar ni allí – 🇬🇧 not to give a damn 
  • 🇪🇸 tener a alguien hasta la coronilla – 🇬🇧 to be fed up with someone
  • 🇪🇸 hacerse la mosquita muerta – 🇬🇧 to play dumb / to act as if butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth
  • 🇪🇸 hablar pestes (de algo / alguien) – 🇬🇧 to speak ill of something/someone
  • 🇪🇸 meter la cuchara – 🇬🇧 to be nosey, to meddle
  • 🇪🇸 perder los estribos – 🇬🇧 to lose your marbles
  • 🇪🇸 meter la mano en el bolsillo (de alguien) – 🇬🇧 to dig into someone’s pocket
  • 🇪🇸 echar (a alguien) al agua – 🇬🇧 to give away, to betray
  • 🇪🇸 no tener pelos en la lengua – 🇬🇧 to have no filter, to speak your mind
  • 🇪🇸 importar un comino – 🇬🇧 not to care

Most of these expressions are idioms, some are proper to certain countries only.

I do realize it is quite hard to use such phrases intuitively in a foreign language, which is why I have prepared a little “cheat sheet” for you:

🇪🇸 ¿Me estás tomando el pelo? Esto no puede ser cierto.
🇬🇧 Are you kidding me? That can’t be true. 

🇪🇸 Pedro tomó demasiado anoche y ahora está durmiendo la mona.
🇬🇧 Pedro had too much to drink last night, and now he is sleeping it off.  

🇪🇸 Mi mamá tiene una verdadera mano de monja. ¿Has probado su carne asada?
🇬🇧 My mom is such an excellent cook. Have you tried her roast beef?

🇪🇸 Francisca tiene corazón de abuelita. Se preocupa por todos
🇬🇧 Francisca has a heart of gold. She cares about everyone. 

🇪🇸 Estás rallar la papa con esta idea de venderlo todo y viajar por el mundo. 
🇬🇧 Your idea of selling everything and traveling around the world is really nuts.

🇪🇸 Si le dices a Carla que viste a Pablo con otra chica solo estarás echando leña al fuego. ¿No ves que ya están peleados?
🇬🇧 If you tell Carla you’ve seen Pablo with another woman, you’ll be only adding fuel to the fire. Can’t you see they’ve already fallen out with each other?

🇪🇸 Les tenía echado el ojo a estos zapatos desde hace mucho tiempo. ¡Por fin me los puedo comprar!
I’ve had my eyes on these shoes for a long time. Finally, I can afford them! 

🇪🇸 Juan está tan enojado que está echando humo por las orejas.
🇬🇧 Juan is so angry that one can feel his blood boiling.

🇪🇸 Haberle dicho a María que se veía gorda con ese vestido fue una verdadera metida de pata. 
🇬🇧 Telling María she looked fat in that dress was a real screwup. 

🇪🇸 Los vecinos de arriba hicieron una fiesta así que no pude pegar ojo en toda la noche.
🇬🇧 My upstairs neighbors threw a party so I couldn’t sleep a wink all night.

🇪🇸 No estoy ni allí con lo que dice Pablo. Él no es mi padre.
🇬🇧 I don’t give a damn about what Pablo says. He is not my father. 

🇪🇸 Mi jefe me tiene hasta la coronilla. Lo único que hace es criticarme.
🇬🇧 I’m fed up with my boss. All he ever does is to criticize me.  

🇪🇸 No le creas a Luisa. Se hace la mosquita muerta, pero en realidad es muy astuta.
🇬🇧 Don’t trust Luisa. She acts dumb, but in fact, she is very sly.

🇪🇸 Deja de hablar pestes de tu suegra. Ella es una muy buena persona.
🇬🇧 Stop speaking ill of your mother-in-law. She is a very good person. 

🇪🇸 A Sofía le gusta meter la cuchara en las conversaciones ajenas. 
🇬🇧 Sofía likes to meddle in other people’s conversations. 

🇪🇸 Victoria trató de mantener la calma, pero finalmente perdió los escribos y le dio una bofetada a Juan.
🇬🇧 Victoria tried to keep calm, but she finally lost her temper and slapped Juan on his cheek. 

🇪🇸 Con la nueva ley de impuestos el gobierno está metiendo la mano en el bolsillo de la gente.
🇬🇧 With the new tax law, the government is digging into people’s pockets. 

🇪🇸 Test Your Spanish Knowledge 🇪🇸

🇪🇸 Te voy a contar lo que de verdad pasó, pero por favor no me eches al agua.
🇬🇧 I’ll tell you what really happened, but please don’t give me away.

🇪🇸 Antonia no tiene pelos en la lengua lo que hace que algunos se ofenden con ella.
🇬🇧 Antonia always speaks her mind, which makes some people get offended. 

If you want to read more about how the Spanish language varies from country to country, I highly recommend my posts on: European Spanish vs Latin Spanish, Spanish slang for money and girl, and a huge list of hilarious Spanish Idioms

10 Awesome Spanish 4-in-1 Imperative Phrases

Another group of Spanish phrases that will make your jaw drop are the ones that express instructions, requests, orders or suggestions.

It is not the time to drag on the grammar aspect of imperative structure in Spanish, so if you are an A level student don’t try to take these expressions apart. 

For the time being, just learn them by heart:

  • 🇪🇸 ¡(tú) dámelo! – 🇬🇧 give it to me!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(tú) tráeselo – 🇬🇧 bring it to him / her / them!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(usted) explíquenoslo! – 🇬🇧 explain it to us!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(tú) envíasela! – 🇬🇧 send it to him/her/them!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(usted) recuérdemelo! – 🇬🇧 remind me about it!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(nosotros) vendamosela! – 🇬🇧 let’s sell it to him/her/them!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(ustedes ) cómprenmelo! – 🇬🇧 buy it for me!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(usted) envuélvamelo! – 🇬🇧 wrap it up for me!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(nosotros) digamoselo! – 🇬🇧 let’s tell it to him/her/them!
  • 🇪🇸 ¡(usted) propóngaselo! – 🇬🇧 propose it to him/her/them

🇪🇸 Este juguete es mío. Dámelo!
🇬🇧 This toy is mine. Give it to me!

🇪🇸 Señor Gonzales necesita un lápiz. Tráeselo, por favor. 
🇬🇧 Mr. Gonzalez needs a pen. Bring it to him, please.

🇪🇸 Maestra, no entendimos nada de esta materia. Explíquenoslo de nuevo, por favor. 
🇬🇧 We didn´t understand anything about this topic, ma’am. Please, explain it to us again. 

🇪🇸 Esta carta es para la abuela. Envíasela, por favor, cuando vayas al centro. 
🇬🇧 This letter is for grandma. Send it to her, please, when you go downtown. 

🇪🇸 María, mañana tengo una reunión a las 2. Recuérdemela por favor apenas llegue a la oficina, bueno? 
🇬🇧 María, I have a meeting tomorrow at 2. Please remind me about it as soon as I get to the office, will you?

🇪🇸 Si los vecinos están interesados en comprar nuestra coche, ¡vendamosela!
🇬🇧 If the neighbors are interested in buying our car, let’s sell it to them!

🇪🇸 Mamá, papá, me encanta este libro. ¡Cómprenmelo, por favor, para mi cumpleaños!
🇬🇧 Mom, Dad, I love this book. Buy it for me for my birthday, please!

🇪🇸 Voy a llevar este pañuelo. ¡Envuélvamelo para regalo, por favor!
🇬🇧 I’ll take this scarf. Gift-wrap it for me, please!

🇪🇸 Nadie sabe que nos vamos a casar. Digámoselo a tu mamá, pero a nadie más.
🇬🇧 Nobody knows we are getting married. Let’s tell your mom, but no one else. 

🇪🇸 Señor Pérez, su plan de incrementar las ventas me parece fantástico. Estoy seguro que al Directorio le va a encantar. Própongaselo en la reunión de mañana. 🇬🇧 Mr. Perez, I think your plan to increase sales is fantastic. I am sure the board is going to love it. Propose it to them in the meeting tomorrow. 

In case you need to speak Spanish at work, you might be interested in my very complete guide to Business Spanish Vocabulary. 

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Joanna Lupa
Joanna Lupa
Polish by birth, Chilean by the turns of life. Has spent 20 years in that beautiful South American country working as a language teacher and translator. Has taught Spanish and English to students of all proficiency levels. Passionate about languages, books, and traveling. A mother of 2 trilingual teenagers.

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