Since 1985

Classic Spanish Sayings Translated and Explained

Five different classic sayings in Spanish language. These all are quite interesting to learn about and don't have a literal easy translation to them. Understanding each one of them will help you learn how to communicate a little bit easier.

Hay que ser chispudo

Related : think quick.

It could be translated like this : you have to shoot sparks.

The word ‘chispudo’ comes from word ‘chispa (spark in English)’, the concept behind this is that you have to think fast, stay sharp, give idea and contribute to something... react so quickly to shoot out sparks around, like a train when passes by real fast on rail tracks.

Tiro por la culata

Related : he shot himself in the foot

It could be translated like this : the shot came back. This is used to say that when you try to do something or achieve something, but turns out to be the opposite of what you wanted or expected. The word ‘culata’ means gunstock or shoulder stock.

Fijate pues…

Related : pay attention

It could be translated like this : check this out.

You use this expression when you ask someone to ‘focus full attention’ on what you are about to explain or demonstrate.

1 - Me hizo de chivo los tomales

2 - Gato por liebre

This is used in business related situations.

For the first quote line “me hizo de chivo los tamales”; as you may know, tamales are a very much popular traditional dish in Antigua Guatemala, these have a few variations, but you will basically find Tamales Colorados with Chicken Meat and Tamales Colorados with Pork Meat; so… the expression ‘Me hizo de chivo los tamales (He/She gave me Tamales with Goat Meat...)’ means that you have been tricked. That you ordered for a good service or product and you get something of a lower quality, something you did not expect. (Goat Meat Tamales don't actually exist, this is just an old saying)

For the second quote “gato por liebre”, this follow the exact same concept, it is like when you are buying something and later you realized that you got something different or not what you expected it to be. 

Me dejó con los colochos hechos

It could perhaps be translated like : ‘he/she left things half way done’ or ‘he/she stood you up’.

This saying is more like a “joke / funny” quote in a bad situation, to explain how this expression is used, lets use an example to start with : Let's pretend you and your classmates agreed to meet in a restaurant to celebrate the end of the college year, then your classmates changed plans you were not told about it, you arrived at the restaurant and realized they are not coming, then you say ‘me dejaron con los colochos hechos’... as saying that you arranged your schedule around that meeting and even traveled far to get there and “for nothing”.

Another example… Let's pretend that you have a job opportunity and arranged a meeting for it, you have been requested to make a report about what your proposal would be for the achieving a certain goal in your job, you rush for finish your report and get to the meeting and they suddenly cancel it… you say ‘me dejaron con los colochos hechos’, … this is again, you made a lot of arrangements for a certain goal and they stood you up. It is a satire of a figurative situation. The origin of this ‘saying’ comes from old time, when a lady gets all nicely dressed, get her hair curled at a beauty salon (“colochos”) and at the end the man (or the guy) never shows up. Another way in spanish to say it is “Vestida y alborotada”, but this is more related to women.

Caras vemos, corazones no sabemos

You could translate this classic saying as “faces we see, hearts we do not know”; but in English, the actual translation is : “judge a book by its cover”, so yes, there translation to this one, but the difference is that the English saying could be applied to people or situations.

This is a very common saying in Spanish language, this is used to say that when you are eventually getting to know someone and realized this person is completely different of what you thought he/she would based on the impression you had by the way he/she looks.


Latest Posts

  • Radish Salad Guatemalan Recipe
    - Mar 30, 2020

    This recipe is a classic on the Guatemalan table, especially for the summer season. It is a refreshing and very traditional Guatemalan salad. It is the ideal accompaniment for dishes such as beef stew and others also typical of Guatemala.

  • Pan Dulce de Yema - Sweet Egg-yolk Bread Recipe
    - Mar 23, 2020

    The "Pan de Yema" (Sweet Egg-yolk Bread) is a very popular pastry product in Guatemala and Antigua Guatemala during the Easter Week season, very similar to the traditional "Pan de Manteca" (Sweet Bread) in flavor and appearance, although its interior has a more yellowish.

  • Spanish Words with two meanings Part 2
    - Mar 16, 2020

    A second post with three examples on words that have different meanings in Spanish language but written in the same way. This can be easily confusing and by remembering the difference, it'll be easier to understand other ones.

Go to Blog Mainpage


  • March 2020 (5)
  • February 2020 (4)
  • January 2020 (4)
  • December 2019 (5)
  • November 2019 (5)
  • October 2019 (3)
  • September 2019 (5)
  • August 2019 (3)
  • July 2019 (5)
  • June 2019 (4)

  • Tags

  • guatemala culture (50)
  • antigua guatemala (47)
  • learn spanish (27)
  • recipe (25)
  • cuisine (16)
  • guatemala (15)
  • easter week (14)
  • grammar (9)
  • guatemala arts (6)
  • semana santa (5)

  • Sponsor Links

    Spanish Online

    Online Spanish Classes - Learn More

    We are happy to announce our spanish clases online through Skype. If you are not coming to Antigua Guatemala, or wish to get started. Please let us know.

    Get in touch

    Spanish Academy Antiguena

    1a Calle Poniente #10
    Antigua Guatemala

    Tel: 5735 4638

    See the Spanish school in Antigua Guatemala map.

    Have a question? Contact Us