Tener Mano Izquierda and Other Untranslatable Spanish Words and Phrases

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Today I was talking to a Spanish friend about parenting, and I said “Hay que tener mucha mano izquierda”. He asked how you directly translate Tener mano izquierda in English and I said… I don’t know!

Tener mano izquierda means to handle a difficult situation, or person, with skill, astutely, in a clever, wily, roundabout way. If a child doesn’t want to do something and just telling them to do it doesn’t work, then maybe you can come up with a clever, roundabout way of getting them to do what you want. That is to “Tener mano izquierda” and there is no direct translation!

Below is a list of a few of our favourite real Spanish words or phrases that have no simple, direct translation in English, do you know any more?

Estrenar – To use something or wear something for the first time, e.g. “estrenar un coche” – to drive a new car for the first time, or “estrenar un vestido nuevo” – to wear a new dress for the first time.

Madrugar – to get up very early in the morning. “Hoy he madrugado mucho para estudiar antes de ir a trabajar” – today I got up really early to study before going to work.

La sobremesa – time after a meal spent sitting around the table chatting, often for a very long time. “Después de la comida tuvimos una sobremesa fantástica” – after the meal we had a fantastic time sitting around chatting.

Un ligón – somebody who is always flirting with others or getting dates all the time. “Cuidado con ese chico, es un ligón” – watch out for that guy, he’s a real flirt.

Empalagoso – food that is ridiculously rich and sweet. “Esta tarta es demasiado empalagosa para mi, no puedo con ella” – that cake is too ridiculously sweet for me, I can’t deal with it.

Desfogarse – To let out all your energies, to let off steam by running around a lot, e.g. “Los niños tienen que desfogarse un poquito, diles que vayan al jardín un ratito” – the kids need to let off a bit of steam, tell them to go out to the garden for a while.

Futbolísticamente – used in post-match analysis or the football press, meaning ‘in footballing terms’, e.g. “futbolísticamente hablando, no hay nada perfecto” – in footballing terms, nothing is perfect.

Un tuerto – A one-eyed person. There is a typical Spanish phrase, “Un tuerto es rey en el país de los ciegos”, which literally translates as ‘a one-eyed man is king in the country of the blind’, and means that someone that doesn’t know much about something still looks very clever when surrounded by people that know even less! Sometimes used ironically when someone is trying to be clever but clearly doesn’t know very much.

Trasnochar – To stay up all night, for example partying or studying, and not go to bed until the next day. “He trasnochado cuando tenia que haberme ido a la cama pronto” – I stayed up all night when I should have gone to bed early.

Remember, our Spanish audios and worksheets are full of Real Spanish like this, it’s our speciality!

Our Secret Real Spanish Supply

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Hola!

There is a huge wealth of real Spanish in our free special reports archive, and there’s a good chance you haven’t seen it yet!

Zero to Fluent in Spanish in 9 months, Conversation Starters, 11 Cool People Phrases in Spanish – these plus 8 more super useful PDF’s can be found right here (all free!)

Make sure you’ve got them all!

Finally, a quick reminder…

To celebrate this beautiful time of year, until midnight on Monday June 6th, you can get 25% off any of the products in our store with the coupon code: spring16

Just head to our store now, select the product you’d like, and use the special spring16 code to get the discount.

Hasta Pronto, y gracias,

Ben y Marina

Notes in Spanish Spring Special Sale

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Queridos amigos,

We’ve got a cool Spanish phrase for you, and news of our spring sale.

Once again it’s been a wonderful rainy spring so far in Madrid, full of wild flowers. Here is one of our favourite phrases that we often hear at this time of year:

Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo – Don’t take your raincoat off until May 40th!

This wonderful phrase, straight from the streets of Madrid means that until May 40th, so about June 10th, don’t bet on nice weather, it can still be cold… but after June 10th, watch out! ¡Va a hacer muchísimo calor!

To celebrate this beautiful time of year, until midnight on Monday June 6th, you can get 25% off any of the products in our store with the coupon code: spring16

Just head to our store now, select the product you’d like, and use the special spring16 code to get the discount.

Hasta Pronto, y gracias,

Ben y Marina

Mas feliz que un regaliz – Spanish Happiness Phrases

Happiness Phrases

The following phrases can all be used in Spain (there may be variations in South/Latin America) to say that you, or someone else, are really happy:

Más feliz que un regaliz (literally, happier than liquorice)

Más feliz que una perdiz (literally, happier than a partridge)

Más contento que un niño con zapatos nuevos (happier than a child with new shoes)

e.g. ¿Cómo estás? … ¡Estoy más feliz que un regaliz!

Another favourite of ours:

Está como un pez en el agua – She’s really having a great time, she’s in her element, (literally ‘like a fish in water’. It’s strange that in English we say ‘like a fish out of water’ to mean the exact opposite!)

And if you just want to keep things simple, there’s no easier phrase in the world than:

Estoy super contento/a 🙂

¡Que seáis muy felices! – May you all be very happy!

– Ben y Marina

ACNUR Campaign – Thanks again for your support

Dear friends,

First of all, ¡Feliz Año Nuevo! Happy New Year!

We wanted to start the year by thanking everyone that supported our end of 2014 campaign, whereby we donated all sales from 16.12.14 until 1.1.2015 to ACNUR, the Spanish division of UNHCR (the UN’s refugee agency).

We were able to raise 4,697 Euros for their Africa campaign, which states “1€ = 1 dia mas de vida”.

Running this campaign led to a huge amount of feedback from listeners, many with ideas about the nature and notion of charity, and how best to efficiently send support to those that need it.

A full analysis of these ideas, the results of this campaign, and what Notes in Spanish will do going forward, can be found on another of our sites:

http://beinghappiness.com/on-charity/

Many thanks again, we’ll be in touch very soon and wish you a very happy, Spanish-packed 2015.

Ben y Marina

NIS and Un dia mas de vida

Dear friends,

We are immensely grateful to everyone who has continued to learn Spanish with us this year.

We are incredibly lucky to be able to continue to make a living from this business that we started nearly 9 years ago, and a few days ago we passed the sales figure we need to cover our cost of living for a year. So we’ve decided to donate the rest of the year’s sales (from 16.12.14 until 1.1.2015) to ACNUR, the Spanish division of UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency.

Their Africa campaign states “1€ = 1 dia mas de vida” – “One euro means one more day alive”, for the 1.2 million refugees in Africa who are currently at risk of dying of hunger.

The number of causes vying for everyone’s attention these days can be mind boggling, and personally we find it impossible sometimes to know who to help. In the end we think that any help sent to any good cause is better than being lost in indecision. This Christmas we’ve decided to help ACNUR, so all proceeds from any sales made for the rest of this year in the Notes in Spanish store will go to their Africa campaign:

http://www.hambreafrica.org/dias-contados

Thanks for learning Spanish with us, and have a really wonderful Christmas.

Ben y Marina

UPDATE: The results of this campaign can be found here

Gracias a la Vida – Y a Vosotros…

We think this is the most beautiful ‘Thank You’ song on the planet and we share it every year on this day.

[Note: If an Ad appears, click the ‘x’ on the right of the ad at the bottom of the video to get rid of it (we didn’t put it there, or the red banner at the start about no rude/political comments!) and you can see the subtitles. The subtitles change to Portuguese after the song ends and she begins to speak Spanish.]

So… Gracias. Thank you. Thank you for helping us share this beautiful language all over the world. Thank you for your kind comments, your lovely emails, for telling your friends about us.

So once again, Happy Thanksgiving – Feliz día de Acción de Gracias. Muchas Gracias por tu dedicación y por aprender español con nosotros.

Saludos desde Madrid,

Ben y Marina

Cool Spanish Summer Phrases

Summer in Spain - Spanish

Photo: ..a hot Spanish summer afternoon, the Sierra shimmering in the background, the cool blue of the village pool…

Queridos amigos,

Here’s how to sound really Spanish when it’s 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) in the shade – which is what we expect in Madrid as usual this summer!

Cool Spanish phrases for when it’s roasting hot:

“¡Ay que calor!” – It’s so hot!

“¡Estoy sudando como un pollo!” – I’m sweating like a chicken!

“¡Me estoy asando!” – I’m roasting!

Try them out, you’ll sound super Spanish!

Hasta Pronto, y gracias,

Ben y Marina

Super Spanish Colloquial Phrases With ‘Miedo’

Happy Halloween!

Miedo (Fear) is a great Spanish word that changes meaning completely depending on whether it is used literally or colloquially:

Literal Meanings:

Ay, ¡me das mucho miedo! – Ah, you’re really scaring me! (For ‘ghosts’ at Halloween!)

Hubo una gran tormenta mientras íbamos caminando por el campo y pasamos mucho miedo – There was a big storm while we were walking in the countryside and we got really scared

Una película de miedo – A horror film

Colloquial Meanings:

Miedo is also used colloquially here in Spain (by people of all ages) to mean something is great:

Este helado está de miedo – This ice cream is amazing

Fuimos a los Alpes este verano y lo pasamos de miedo – We went to the Alps this summer and had a fantastic time.

Trick or Treat! Halloween Spanish

Halloween Spanish

It’s Halloween time in Spain, and the streets are full of witches, ghouls and ghosts! We’ve got some special treats for you (and no tricks!) – Some great ‘scary’ Spanish vocab and phrases!

The Super-Useful, Real Spanish ‘Scary’ Vocab and Phrases!

Here are some ‘frights and scares’ Spanish phrases for you to use all year round, and not just at Halloween!

Asustar – To scare someone or give someone a shock

¡No me asustes! – Don’t scare me

Ben: No arranca el coche – The car won’t start
Marina: ¡No me asustes, que acabo de recogerlo del taller! – Don’t scare me like that, I just picked it up from the workshop!

Un susto – a shock

¡Qué susto me has dado! – What a fright you just gave me (e.g. when someone comes into a room without you noticing)

¡Qué susto me ha dado el perro! – What a shock that dog gave me

Me llevé un susto que no veas / me he dado un susto de muerte – I got a really big shock (for really serious situations/shocks)

Ha habido un accidente de tráfico justo delante mío, y pensé que no iba a frenar a tiempo. Me he dado un susto de muerte. – There was a car accident right in front of me, and I thought I wouldn’t be able to stop in time. I got a terrible shock.

¡Qué susto, un vampiro! – What a fright, a vampire! (When your neighbour appears in his vampire costume this halloween!)

¡Feliz Halloween!