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10 proverbs in Spanish that you have to know

18 July, 2018 | LEARN SPANISH , Vocabulary

Surely once talking to a Spanish person you have heard phrases like “a quién madruga Dios le ayuda” or “perro ladrador poco mordedor” and haven’t understood very well what they meant. These are proverbs and popular sayings.

What is a proverb? It’s a short phrase of popular origin which is traditionally repeated and expresses an advice, teaching or thought.

The proverbs are used a lot by Spanish people before certain situations or contexts. Don’t worry because after reading this post you will understand very well the most popular proverbs used by Spanish people and you will surely feel like using them as well!

We have chosen for you ten most used proverbs in Spanish, accompanied by their meaning.

  • “A caballo regalado no le mires el diente” a caballo regalado no le mires los dientes   

This proverb recommends that when you receive a gift you shouldn’t question it, just accept it in friendly and nicely. It is not very polite to analyse the price of the gift, its quality or highlight its failures.

  • “Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona se queda”

This proverb refers to those things that no matter how hard they try to hide or disguise, they can’t be disguised or changed, they remain the same. For example, a person, however much they try to improve their appearance or exterior can not change their interior or essence and their natural defects.

  • “A quien buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija”
    a quién buen árbol se arrima buena sombra le cobija

This proverb talks about people who have good contacts and companies and, therefore, they are doing very well. A good tree refers to a tree with lots of shade and leafy, which offers a good refuge. In the saying, the protection of a good shadow of a tree is compared to the protection that a person who has power or influence can give. Those who “bring” (gather) this person will have a good protection.

  • “Culo veo, culo quiero”

It makes reference to jealous and capricious people. It means that you want everything the other person has, something positive or not. Just because of seeing that the other person has it, the jealous person wants it as well.

  • “Perro ladrador, poco mordedor”

Comparing to a dog, it refers to persons who “make a lot of noise.”  This type of persons are the least “dangerous”; They bark but don’t bite. It means, they shout, they get angry and talk about things they are going to do but actually don’t do them, they don’t pass to the action.

a quien madruga dios le ayuda

  • “A quien madruga Dios le ayuda”

Wake up early is good? According to this saying yes! Traditionally, this saying is used to encourage people to be responsible, strive and work daily without laziness to achieve their goals and objectives (at work, in studies, etc.). Being an early riser is opposite to being lazy and leaving things behind for the last minute.


  • “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres”

It means that according to the companies and friendships of a person you can know what they are like and their tastes and hobbies. In this sense, it can also be used as a warning of the great influence that friends or companies can have on a person’s behavior. Someone can end up imitating what others do, without thinking or having their own criteria.

  • “Ojo por ojo, diente por diente”

This saying refers to revenge. It means, that everything you do is returned equally with the objective of causing the same damage you have received.

más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando
  • “Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando”

This proverb teaches us that it is better to have little of something but surely than have a lot of something unsure, without security our without really being ours. It can be applied to people who leave safe situations or things for others that are better but doubtful or uncertain.


  • “En martes ni te cases ni te embarques”

    This saying refers to Tuesday (day of the week) as the day of bad luck. That’s why the saying recommends that on Tuesday you shouldn’t do anything important, like getting married, or anything risky like starting a boat trip.

  • We hope that you have learned a lot and, from now on, you can use these sayings in your conversations in Spanish. Surely your Spanish friends will praise your level of Spanish when listening to you!
    What are the most commonly used sayings in your language? Surely they are very interesting. Share them with us and the other students in our comments section.


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