Maybe you’ve been learning Spanish for a while but still feel like you speak differently to the natives? Sometimes, it’s not a question of accent or intonation, but it can be the way you phrase sentences or the vocabulary you’re limited to. Not to worry, we asked our native Spanish teachers at Euroace for a few everyday expressions that might be useful to put in your vocabulary book to make your Spanish sound more local.
Here are some expressions for you:
“Por hache o por be”
We use this phrase when we want to skip the details and get to the point. It translates to “for one reason or another”. This is when we do not want to give explanations or the details are not important for what we are talking about.
“A palo seco”
We say this to describe something that is done with basic means, in an uncertain way. When you ask the bartender ”Por favor, ponme un ron a palo seco”, this translates to ”A pure rum, please – without ice/ coke…etc.”.
Another example would be ”Ayer me comí un bocadillo de jamon a palo seco”, meaning, ”Yesterday I ate a ham sandwich” (literally only ham, nothing else on it!).
Phrases with “trapo” are also useful to know
“A todo trapo” – at full speed, at full blast
“Poner la música a todo trapo” – turning the music up to full volume
“Conducir a todo trapo” – driving at full speed
“Vivir a todo trapo” – living a luxury lifestyle!
“A buenas horas mangas verdes”
We say this when something was expected to happen but came too late. Green Sleeves or “Mangas Verdes” were the members of the Holy Brotherhood (Santa Hermanidad), who wore green and were responsible for arresting and imprisoning thieves, who were usually last, when the other thieves had already fled. Hence the origin of the expression.
It literally means to be planted, but in reality we say this for someone that does things very well, is very witty or has reached a certain state of perfection. For example “Susana ha estado sembrada en la entrevista, seguro que la eligen” – Susan did exceptionally well in the interview, they will choose her for sure.
shh! keep quiet!
If you’re interested in learning even more Spanish expressions, and talking in a more natural way, check out our Spanish courses here. You’ll get to practice daily and you’ll be speaking more and more like a local in no time.