30 Popular Spanish Proverbs To Live Your Life By


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When learning a new language, it’s fun to explore the most common expressions or phrases, and so in this post, we gathered 30 popular Spanish proverbs that native speakers will be familiar with.

We included the literal English translation for each proverb, some of which are the exact same in English. Others translate a bit differently, but have a similar meaning in both languages. Finally, there’s a few that simply don’t exist in English.

PS: for more light-hearted reading, make sure to check out the below posts on popular expressions and phrases in Spanish:

Now, let’s take a look at 30 thought-provoking Spanish proverbs to live your life by.

1. A donde te quieran mucho, no vayas a menudo – Where people love you very much, don’t go often

This is very simple: a constant guest is never welcome. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder.

2. El tiempo lo cura todo – Time heals everything

Very simple to understand, time will take care of your pain or sadness

3. Si te caes siete veces, levántate ocho – If you fall seven times, get up eight

Never stop trying. If you fall, just get up again. What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

4. El que mucho abarca poco aprieta – The one that embraces a lot, can’t keep it together

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

5. Más vale pájaro en mano, que cien volado – A bird in hand is worth more than a hundred flying around  

English speakers will already know this one. It’s better to hold onto what you have, rather than to risk losing it by trying to attain something better.

6. ¡Zapatero, a sus zapatos! – Shoemaker, to his shoes!

People should stick to what they know.

7. Cuando hay hambre, no hay mal pan – When one is hungry, there is no bad bread

You can’t be picky when asking for something. Beggars can’t be choosers.

8. Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres – Tell me who you’re with, and I’ll tell you

Similar to “a man is known by the company he keeps” in English, which is pretty self-explanatory.

9. Ladrón que roba a ladrón tiene 100 años de perdón –  A thief that steals from a thief, has 100 years of forgiveness

It is not a crime to steal from a thief, like Robin Hood, eh?

10. Cada uno sabe donde aprieta el zapato – Everyone knows where to squeeze the shoe

Each person knows their own limitations, problems and what’s best for themselves.

11. El dinero llama al dinero –  Money calls money

With more money, comes more opportunities.

12. Quien madruga, Dios le ayuda – God helps those who gets up early

Being first to act is often an advantage. The early bird catches the worm.

13. La curiosidad mató al gato – Curiosity killed the cat

Just like the directly translated English version – being nosy will often cause you more problems than anything else.

14. Guerra avisada no mata a soldado – War warned does not kill any soldier 

A good way to say “I told you so”.

15. Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo – The devil knows more due to being old than by being the devil

You cannot compete with the value of experience.

16. No hay mal que dure 100 años – There is no evil that lasts 100 years

No matter how bad a situation is, it will not last forever.

17. No todo lo que brilla es oro – Not everything that shines is gold

Always be weary when something seems too good to be true.

18. No juzgues un libro por su portada – Don’t judge a book by its cover

Things are not always what we think they are.

19. Más vale prevenir que lamentar – It’s better to prevent than to be sorry

Used the exact same way as you would in English. It’s better to be safe, than to be sorry.

20. Donde fueres, haz lo que vieres – Wherever you go, do whatever you see

One that works very well when you are in a new place, or you need to adapt to new customs. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

21. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente – Eyes that doesn’t see, heart that doesn’t feel

If we don’t see something, we tend to forget that it exists, and so does it hurt if we lose it?

22. La práctica hace al maestro – Practice makes the master  

The more you do something, the better you get. Practice makes perfect

23. Del dicho al hecho, hay mucho trecho – From saying to fact, there is a stretch

Just like in English, saying something and doing it are very different things. Talk is cheap.

24. Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente – The shrimp that sleeps is taken by the current.

If you snooze, you lose.

25. Las desgracias nunca vienen solas – Misfortunes never come alone

When something bad happens, there’s a good chance that more bad things are coming. When it rains, it pours

26. A palabras necias, oídos sordos – Let foolish words fall on deaf ears.

Don’t pay attention to negative things that people say about you

27. A veces el remedio es peor que la enfermedad – Sometimes the remedy is worse than the disease

Think twice before acting, or you might make a bad situation worse.

28. En las malas se conoce a los amigos – In bad situations is where you know who your friends are

It is said that when we are doing well, we are surrounded by friends, but in the bad times, we find out who are friends are. A friend in need a friend indeed

29. Tener un piano no te hace pianista – Having a piano doesn’t make you a pianist

Just like visiting the zoon doesn’t make you a zookeeper, having something doesn’t make you an expert.

30. Haz el bien y no mires a quien – Do good, and don’t look at whom

A solid proverb for life. Do what you think is right, no matter what people think.


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