7 Popular Spanish Phrases with Dar


As you already know, the Spanish language has a gamut of expressions, so in order to be able to understand a native speaker you will absolutely need to expand your catalog of idiomatic expressions, and knowing these Spanish phrases with ‘Dar’ will help you reach that goal.

In this article, you will get to know some of the most common dar idioms in Spanish. Here’s a sneak peek at the English equivalents of the expressions you’re about to learn:

  • To report
  • To reject
  • To not lift a finger
  • Really cool / very good / very well
  • To hit the nail on the head
  • To give in
  • To take for granted / to assume

Through the use of these phrases, you will be able to communicate multiple ideas and they’ll also help you to express yourself in more creative and less rigid ways.

1. Dar parte – To report

In Spanish, when someone ‘da parte’, it means that they are giving information about something that occurred. There’s no exact phrase in English for this expression, but it’s closer in meaning to ‘to report’, ‘to inform’ or ‘to announce’

This phrase requires the use of the prepositions ‘a’ and ‘de’, depending on what you want to say. Notice that ‘dar parte a’ means ‘to inform to’, so it’s used to indicate who is receiving the information. Whereas ‘dar parte de’ could be translated as ‘to inform of’ as it is used to indicate what the information is.

[‘Dar’ conjugated] + [parte] + [a / de] + [complement]

Tenemos que dar parte a las autoridades.
We have to report it to the authorities.

En cuanto escuché gritos, di parte a la policía.
As soon as I heard screaming, I reported it to the police.

Da parte de tu ubicación.
Report your location.

El profesor dio parte de su renuncia.
The professor announced his resignation.

El jefe nos pidió que diéramos parte de los avances.
The boss asked us to report on the progress.

2. Dar calabazas – To reject

In Castilian Spanish, ‘dar calabazas’ is a phrase that expresses romantic rejection. So, if a woman declines to be in a relationship, to go on a date or rejects someone else’s love, it’s said that she ‘le dio calabazas’. Sometimes it can also be applied to other kinds of rejections, such as academic ones. Its closest translation would be ‘to reject’.

[Indirect object pronoun] + [‘dar’ conjugated] + calabazas + (a) + (noun)

Brenda le dio calabazas a Oscar.
Brenda rejected Oscar.

Siento que Linda me dará calabazas.
I feel like Linda will reject me.

No puedo creer que le haya dado calabazas a alguien tan guapo.
I can’t believe she rejected someone so handsome.

3. No dar un palo al agua – To not lift a finger

A different way to say that someone is lazy is by using the phrase ‘no dar un palo al agua’. Its literal translation would be ‘to not give a stick to the water’ as this phrase had its origins in a period where people traveled by boat and had to row. So when someone stopped rowing, this was the phrase people used to point their finger at the lazy rower. 

Since this meaning may not make much sense now, as a Spanish idiom, no dar un palo al agua is close to ‘to not lift a finger’.

(Noun) + no + [‘dar’ conjugated] + un palo al agua

Ya estás grande pero no das un palo al agua.
You’re all grown up but you don’t lift a finger.

Los jóvenes de esta generación no dan un palo al agua.
The young people of this generation do not lift a finger.

Marta no dio palo al agua durante todo el año y reprobó el examen.
Marta didn’t lift a finger all year so she failed the exam.

4. A todo dar – Really cool or Very good/well

In Mexican Spanish, people often say something’s ‘a todo dar’ when something is very good. As a result, it can be translated as ‘really cool’, but it can also be used to describe good quality or to express that something is working to its full potential. In these cases, it can be used to say ‘very good’, ‘very well’, ‘awesome’ or any similar equivalent.

So, depending on the context, it has slightly different meanings, but overall ‘a todo dar’ has a positive connotation and people use it to describe good things.

[Noun] + [‘verb’ conjugated] + [a todo dar]

La fiesta de ayer estuvo a todo dar.
Yesterday’s party was awesome.

El restaurante que me recomendaste está a todo dar.
The restaurant that you recommended to me is really cool.

Mi vieja camioneta funcionaba a todo dar.
My old truck worked really well.

La computadora que compré funciona a todo dar.
The computer I bought works very well.

‘A todo dar’ can also be used to describe people. Since in this case you’re describing someone’s personality, you’ll need to use the verb ‘ser’ before.

[Noun] + [‘ser’ conjugated] + [a todo dar]

Tu papá es a todo dar.
Your dad is really cool.

George es a todo dar, te va a caer bien.
George is really cool, you’re gonna like him.

¿Qué le pasó a Luisa? Antes era a todo dar.
What happened to Luisa? She used to be really cool.

Variations of ‘a todo dar’

While these alternative variations don’t include ‘dar’, they are very close in meaning to this expression, so I want to give you these expressions as a bonus since we’re on the subject:

  • Chido is Mexican slang for ‘cool’, ‘nice’ or ‘good’. Just like ‘a todo dar’, chido can be used to describe both people, situations and objects. 
  • ¡Qué padre! is another Mexican slang expression that can be translated as ‘how great!’ or ‘how cool!’. As a synonym of ‘a todo dar’, ‘¡qué padre!’ can only be used to express that a situation is good or cool. 

5. Dar en el clavo – To hit the nail on the head

A very useful phrase to point out people’s accuracy is ‘dar en el clavo’. Spanish speakers often use it when talking about someone finding the right answer or solution to a certain matter, especially if it has a considerable degree of difficulty. However, it can also be used in simpler circumstances. It means ‘to hit the nail on the head’.

(Noun) + [‘dar’ conjugated] + [en el clavo]

Creo que diste en el clavo.
I think you hit the nail on the head.

El diseñador dio en el clavo con el logotipo.
The designer hit the nail on the head with the logo.

Diste en el clavo con el regalo que le compraste a Roger.
You hit the nail on the head with the present you bought Roger.

6. Dar el brazo a torcer – To give in

‘Dar el brazo a torcer’ is used to express a lack of resistance to someone else’s decision and it can be translated as ‘to give in’. People often use this phrase to talk negatively about people’s lack of determination or convictions, using it as a way to describe a type of weakness. 

As a result, this phrase usually has a negative connotation. However, sometimes it can also be used to talk about people being wise and cautious.

[Noun] + [‘dar’ conjugated] + [el brazo a torcer]

Nuestro jefe dio el brazo a torcer y nos dio el día libre.
Our boss gave in and gave us the day off.

Él es muy fácil de convencer, siempre da el brazo a torcer.
He is very easy to convince, he always gives in.

Robbie no quería ir con su suegra pero al final dio el brazo a torcer.
Robbie didn’t want to go with his mother-in-law but in the end he gave in.

The counterpart of this Spanish phrase with dar’ would be ‘no dar el brazo a torcer’ which, as you would expect, is translated as ‘to not give in’

Depending on how it’s being used, ‘no dar el brazo a torcer’ can express something positive or negative. When it has a positive connotation it’s frequently used to describe resilience, but it can also be used to describe someone’s stubbornness.

[Noun] + no + [‘dar’ conjugated] + [el brazo a torcer]

A pesar de las amenazas, no dio el brazo a torcer.
Despite the threats, he did not give in.

Mi papá no dio el brazo a torcer y no me dio permiso de salir.
My father did not give in and didn’t give me permission to go out.

7. Dar por sentado – To take something for granted / To assume

If someone ‘takes something for granted’ Spanish speakers would say that what they do is ‘dar por sentado’. This phrase can also be translated as ‘to assume’ since it’s used to talk about people assuming things are true without questioning them.

[Noun] + [‘dar’ conjugated] + [por sentado] + que + [complement]

Doy por sentado que entendieron las reglas.
I assume you understood the rules.

Mis compañeros dieron por sentado que me iba a graduar con honores.
My classmates took for granted the fact that I was going to graduate with honors.

Como mi hermano estudió un doctorado, todos dan por sentado que es más listo que yo.
Since my brother studied for a Ph.D., everyone assumes that he is smarter than me.

Here are some very close variations of ‘dar por sentado’:

  • Dar por hecho
  • Dar por seguro

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there are a lot of expressions that stem from the verb ‘dar’ in Spanish. So it doesn’t only work to express the action of giving, which allows you to use it to express a wide range of ideas.

Knowing these expressions will improve your conversational skills as you’ll be able to communicate in a very natural way and understand native Spanish speakers a lot better. Just no des por sentado that this is all there is to learn!

Related Resources
Dar | Conjugations, Uses and Meanings: for many Spanish learners, ‘dar’ can be a challenging verb since it has an irregular conjugation. But since it’s very common and quite useful, in this article, you’ll learn different structures so you can apply this verb correctly. 

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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