Five Funny and Useful Modismos (Idioms) to Learn if You Are Planning to Visit Spain!

by Laima A. & Díaz Vepstas, CAPS Spanish and Portuguese Tutors


1. Costar un ojo de la cara. (Literal translation: to cost an eye of your face).

This is the perfect expression when you want to talk about something that is outrageously expensive or extremely difficult to get. (Please, never attempt to sell your eyes in Spain. It will only get you in trouble). Equivalent to: “to cost an arm and a leg”.


Me he gastado todos mis ahorros en mi Ferrari. ¡Me costó un ojo de la cara!
I spent all my savings in my Ferrari. It was so expensive!

Other expression with similar meaning: costar un riñón (riñón=kidney).

2. Coser y cantar. (Literal translation: to sew and to sing).

There might not be that many people left in Spain who think that sewing and singing at the same time is an easy task. However, you can still use this expression when you are talking about something that was very easy for you to accomplish. Equivalent to: “a piece of cake”.


¿Cómo te ha salido el examen de matemáticas? ¡Muy bien! Fue coser y cantar.
How did your math exam go? It went very well. It was so easy!

Other expressions with similar meaning: estar chupado or estar tirado.

3. Estar como una cabra. (Literal translation: to be like a goat).

Now you have a new way to describe that wacky, crazy person from your group of friends. Do not use it if you are talking to your girlfriend/boyfriend’s parents though. Equivalent to: “mad as a hatter” or “to be nuts”.


Originally posted by poppy-makk


-Voy a dar la vuelta al mundo en bicicleta. -¿EN BICICLETA? ¡Estás como una cabra!
–I am going to go around the world on a bicycle. –ON A BICYCLE? You are crazy!

Other expressions with similar meanings: estar como un cencerro (cencerro=cowbell).

4. Hablar por los codos. (Literal translation: to talk with your elbows).

This is the perfect expression when describing someone who talks non-stop. People in Spain like to talk A LOT so it might come in handy when visiting this country. Equivalent to: “to talk nineteen to the dozen.”


-No le hagas ninguna pregunta a mi suegra. Una vez que empieza hablar, no hay quien la pare. ¡Habla por los codos!
-Do not ask any questions to my mother-in-law. Once she starts talking, there is no way to stop her. She talks so, so, so much!

Other expressions with similar meanings: hablar como un cotorro (cotorro=parrot).

5. Ir pisando huevos. (Literal translation: to walk stepping on eggs).

Can you imagine having to walk stepping on eggs? It would probably take you forever to get wherever you need to go. You can use this expression to ask someone to walk or do something a bit faster. Equivalent to: “to go at snail’s pace.”



Vas pisando huevos, Paco! A este paso no llegamos nunca.
-C’mon, Paco! If you keep on going at this pace, we will never get there.

Bonus: ¡A vivir, que son dos días! Life only lasts “two days”, so live your life to the fullest!

Laima is a Spanish and Portuguese tutor at CAPS. She is majoring in International Studies with a concentration on Environment and Sustainability. She loves running outdoors, skiing and going to concerts with friends. She is also passionate about animals and food.

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