If you are studying Spanish, surely, you already noticed how much this language could vary depending on the country in which you are. Although these variations do not affect grammar rules, they will have an impact on vocabulary, sayings, and idiomatic expressions. This is undoubtedly one of the factors that contribute to making Spanish a difficult language to learn. If you have Mexican friends, you probably don’t always understand what they say. This is because Mexicans have their own sayings, which, in addition to being very useful for daily communication, are very fun.
If you are tired of studying grammar rules and conjugations, the following list contains some of the funniest Mexican sayings. In addition to making you laugh for a while, they will be perfect for improving your conversation. Keep in mind that many of these phrases are very local and do not exist in other Spanish-speaking countries. Therefore, it is very possible that they also do not have a direct translation into English. If they do, they won’t make much sense or won’t to be as fun as they are in Spanish. As a result, I will try to explain each saying to you, as well as the situations in which we use them. If the phrases have an equivalent in English, I will let you know. If they don’t, I will provide you with the direct translation. So, let’s learn some funny Mexican sayings!
1. Limosnero y con garrote – Beggars can’t be choosers
This funny Mexican saying is used to describe a person who asks for a favor or charity, and they are not happy with the way you helped them. As a result, they are mean or ungrateful. Mexicans also use this phrase when that person who asks for your help demands you too much, puts up many objections or refuses what you want to do for them. In other words, it’s as if they made you feel that helping them is your obligation. If we translate this expression into English, it would be something like: “beggar with a club”. However, it doesn’t make much sense. As a result, the closest expression in meaning is “Beggars can’t be choosers”. Still, don’t understand very well when to use this expression? Look at the following example.
¿Quieres que te preste mi traje y encima lo quieres planchado? ¡Limosnero y con garrote! Do you want to borrow my suit and on top of that you want me to iron it? Beggars can’t be choosers!
Since this is an expression, you don’t need to do any conjugation, just make sure to use it in the right context.
2. Con dinero baila el perro – Money talks
Although money is not everything in life, it is extremely important. This funny saying is related to the power of money and how people can do something in the interest of obtaining a reward. As a result, Mexicans also use this saying when someone asks them to do something, but they need money to carry it out. Although the literal translation of this phrase would be “With money, the dog dances”, the closest English expression is “Money talks”. Here is an example where you could use ‘with money the dog dances’.
Si quieres resultados, necesitarás pagar, ya sabes que con dinero baila el perro If you want results, you need to pay. You know that money talks.
No es una sorpresa que Ana se cambiara de trabajo. Con dinero baila el perro. It’s not surprising that Ana changed jobs, money talks
3. Dando y dando, pajarito volando – You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
This Mexican saying is quite famous and, therefore, you can listen to it among your friends and people of different ages. ‘Dando y dando, pajarito volando’ is used in a situation where two people are going to exchange something. But they want to transfer to happen at the same time. Probably, you know the words that make up this saying and, as you can see, if you literally translate them into English, they won’t make much sense: “giving and giving, little bird flying.” As a result, the most appropriate expression is “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.”
However, take into account that ‘Dando y dando, pajarito volando’ can be used in all type of situations where an exchange has to be done at the same time. Imagine this situation: after much searching for a case for your cell phone, you realize that one of your brothers has the model you were looking for. Since he doesn’t like it so much, you offer to pay him double, and he accepts. However, when you ask him to give you the phone case, he tells you: “Dando y dando, pajarito volando.” What does it mean? That he will provide you with the phone case at the same time that you pay for it.
¿Crees que te voy a dar tu vestido cuando tú todavía tienes mi blusa? ¡Dando y dando, pajarito volando! Do you think I’m going to give you your dress when you still have my blouse? You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.
Like the previous sayings, you don’t need to conjugate this phrase, but you can use it to respond to another person or to complement your comments.
4. Depende el sapo la pedrada – It all depends on the circumstances
As you can see, there are many funny Mexican sayings that people use in everyday situations. Something that is very common in daily life is that everything has a price which can vary depending on what you want to get. For example, if you have a plan or objective in mind, there are specific actions or steps you must take to achieve your goal.
Although this definition is clear and understandable, we Mexicans use “Depende el sapo la pedrada” to express that the actions we take will vary depending on our objectives. Furthermore, we also use this expression when we want the approximate price or value of an object or work. In this case, the idea is the same: the price will vary depending on what you need.
This phrase would be translated as “the size of the stone you throw depends on the size of the toad’. And although it doesn’t make much sense, in Mexico, it is quite popular. However, in English, you could simply say ‘It depends’ or ‘It all depends on the circumstances’. Let’s see some examples.
|Tú: ¿Cuánto crees que me cueste comprar una computadora nueva?||You: How much do you think I need to pay for a new computer?|
|Tu amigo: Pues, depende el sapo la pedrada. ¿Qué características estás buscando?||Your friend: Well, it depends. What features are you looking for?|
5. Si quieres conocer a Inés, vive con ella un mes – You don’t truly know a person until you live with them
As mentioned earlier, the Mexican sayings compiled on this list are extremely useful in all kinds of conversations. This funny saying, for example, expresses that to know a person truly, you need to spend more time with him or her.
As a result, many Mexican mothers and grandmothers use this phrase with couples that are about to get married. Why? Because it’s a way to tell them that they need to know more about their future husband or wife. Although the original version of this saying is ‘Si quieres conocer quién es, vive con él un mes’ the Mexicans have created more funny versions. For example, if you wanted to use this phrase with a girl, you would say: “Si quieres conocer a Andrés, vive con él un mes.”
On the contrary, you would use “If you want to meet Ines, live with her for a month” if you are talking to a boy. As you can imagine, “Si quieres conocer a Inés, vive con ell aun mes” doesn’t make much sense. However, in English, there is the phrase “You don’t really know a person till you live with them,” which perfectly summarizes the meaning of this funny Mexican saying.
No digo que tu novio no sea bueno, pero si quieres conocer a Andrés, vive con el un mes I’m not saying that your boyfriend is not good, but you don’t truly know a person till you live with them
Even though the name of the person you are talking about is not ‘Andrés’ or ‘Inés’, don’t change this phrase. Many of the funniest Mexican sayings use rhymes to be funnier, and this one is no exception.
6. El que entra a la iglesia aguanta la misa – As you make your bed, so you must lie in it
For many people listening to mass can be very boring and difficult to do. However, if they entered the church, it is because they knew or had an idea of what awaited them. As a result, we use “El que entra a la iglesia aguanta la misa” to express that you must accept the consequences of your actions or decisions. Like other sayings, this phrase cannot be translated directly into English. However, this language has a reasonably similar expression: “As you make your bed, so you must lie in it”.
¡No te quejes de tus malas calificaciones si no estudiaste nada! El que entra a la iglesia aguanta la misa. Don’t complain about your bad grades if you didn’t study at all! As you make your bed, so you must lie in it.
Although this saying is used to talk about the consequences of your actions, many young Mexicans also use it as a warning to their friends. How? For example, if your Mexican friend is teasing you or making fun of you, you could say, “El que entra a la iglesia aguanta la misa.” What does it mean? It means that if your friend is willing to tease you, he must also be prepared to endure your teasing. However, for this situation, the Mexicans changed the phrase to: “El que se sube se pasea.”
7. La ropa sucia se lava en casa – Don’t air your dirty laundry in public
If you heard this expression in a conversation, you would surely agree that dirty clothes have to be washed at home. However, the real meaning of this funny Mexican saying is very different. This simple phrase expresses that your problems or private matters should be discussed in privacy and not in public. Contrary to other sayings, this phrase is very similar in English: ‘Don’t wash/air your dirty linen in public’.
¡Cálmate! Este no es lugar para hablar de eso, la ropa sucia se lava en casa Calm down! This is no place to talk about that, don’t air your dirty laundry in public!
8. Muerto el perro se acabó la rabia – Dead dogs don’t bite
Although many times the problems of daily life can be overwhelming, the truth is that they have an origin or cause. And if this cause were solved, the problem would no longer exist. ‘Muerto el perro se acabó la rabia’ is a famous and funny Mexican saying that is used to describe this. Like its equivalent phrase in English’ Dead dogs don’t bite’, this Mexican saying can be used in many situations.
Estás gastando mucho dinero en las reparaciones de tu carro, ¿por qué no compras uno nuevo? Muerto el perro se acabó la rabia. You are spending a lot of money repairing your car, why don’t you get a new one? Dead dogs don’t bite.
9. El que se fue a la Villa perdió su silla – You snooze, you lose
There is no Mexican child who, at some point in his life, has not heard his aunt, grandmother tell him this saying. In which context? Imagine one of those family reunions or parties where there are many people and a few chairs. Then, you get up from your spot to eat something and, when you return, you see that one of your aunts is sitting on your chair. She looks at you and tells you: “El que se fue a la villa perdió su silla”.
Although this saying can be used in such an innocent situation as the previous one, it can also be applied to daily life. “El que se fue a la vida o perdió su silla” or “You snooze, you lose” means that if you do not take advantage of the opportunities that arise, someone else will. Furthermore, it is also used in situations where someone loses their possessions by neglecting them for a moment, just like your aunt got your chair.
Tú no te atreviste a invitarla a salir, el que se fue a la Villa perdió su silla You didn’t dare to ask her out. You snooze you lose.
10. Alegre el indio y le das maracas – To put someone up to
As mentioned before, not all Mexican sayings have a literal translation into English or an expression that captures all their meaning. ‘Alegre el indio y le das maracas’ is one of those cases. Therefore, I will try to explain this saying as well as possible. This saying means that a person has a particular weakness/behavior, and you do something to increase it or to wind that person. For example, imagine that one of your friends tends to be late everywhere. However, his girlfriend is very understanding and tells him to take all the time he needs. Seeing this, you say to her, “Alegre el indio y le das marcas”. Why? Because giving him all the time he needs will not solve his unpunctuality. On the contrary, she is helping him to be more unpunctual.
Let’s see another example. Suppose you like pizza and hamburgers a lot, but since you want to go on vacation, you are on a diet and try to stay away from them. But one day you arrive at your house and realize that your roomies bought pizza and hamburgers. What would a Mexican say? “Alegre el indio y le das marcas.” Why? Because, although they didn’t do it on purpose, having your favorite food there is like encouraging you to eat it.
Since the meaning of this saying was very popular and funny, Mexican created even more fun phrases to express this idea. Some examples are:
- El niño chillón y lo pellizcas
- La perra es brava y le pateas la reja
- El perro es flojo y le ponen tapete
- El niño es risueño y le hacen cosquillas
As you can imagine, “Cheerful the Indian and you give him maracas” doesn’t make much sense. And although there isn’t a phrase similar to this in English (or at least I can’t think of one), you can use ‘to put someone up to’.
11. El que es perico donde quiera es verde – A good rooster can crow anywhere
This is another fun Mexican saying that you can use with your friends. This phrase means that when a person has the ability to do something very well. As a result, no matter what place or situation they are in, they will always be able to do such activity. For example, a good doctor will always be a good doctor regardless of which hospital he works for. Wherever you are, a parakeet will always be green.
Although the closest phrase in English is “To do something on your sleep”, keep in mind that this Mexican saying refers to that person’s ability being the same regardless of the circumstances they are facing. Another phrase you could use instead of ‘El que es perico donde quiera es verd’ is ‘El que es gallo en cualquier gallinero canta’. This phrase translates as “A good rooster can crow anywhere.” And, even if it is not used in English, it can give you a closer idea of the meaning of these Mexican sayings.
|Tú: Estoy nervioso por el partido de mañana. Va a haber mucha gente y el campo es diferente.||You: I’m nervous because of the game. There would be a lot of people and the field is different.|
|Tu amigo: ¡Tranquilo! El que es perico donde quiera es verde.||Your friend: Calm down! A good rooster can crow anywhere.|
These funny Mexican sayings will not only allow you to make your learning of Spanish something funny and entertaining. But they will also allow you to talk like a native. Also, once you learn them, you will realize that describing a situation is much simpler with a saying. It will also help you develop a more natural conversation and, of course, you will avoid communication problems with Mexicans. Remember that the best way to learn these phrases is to use them as much as possible. And if you liked these Mexican sayings, here we show you other expressions that you can add to your vocabulary.