Using Idioms and Expressions: The ball is in your court!

17 de November de 2016


I’m not going to beat about the bush with an introduction. In fact I am going to  let the cat out of the bag immediately and let you have it straight from the horse’s mouth.

What on earth am I talking about? Well, idioms of course.

In a nutshell, an idiom is a popular expression used to explain something through examples. They are almost impossible to translate because they relate to a particular cultural identity. That means Google Translator is out of the question if we want to translate them.  For example, if you put  the idiom I used in the introduction “straight from the horse’s mouth” into Google you get “directo de la boca del caballo”, which let’s face it, means nothing to, in this case, a speaker of Spanish.

If you watch the video below you will get a graphic idea of some commonly used idioms in English.

The great thing about idioms is that they add colour and diversity to language, and when you use them correctly, although that might only be once in a blue moon (“de uvas a peras” in Spanish) it gives you a certain satisfaction.

With this in mind, I’d love to create a list of idioms and their translations. So why don’t we use this space to do it? Send in your favourite idioms in English, Spanish or Catalan and let’s see, between all of us, if we can find good translations for them.

Oh and by the way, when you have heard something straight from the horse’s mouth it means you have heard it from the highest authority, from the person who knows the most about it. The translation into Spanish might be “de primera mano”.

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María Isabel Corregidor18 de November de 2016 at 15:15

Hi Patricia!

Your article is very interesting and useful for the students of English.
I congratulate you for it and I expect you would get a lot of sharings.

Best wishes

    Patricia Benson21 de November de 2016 at 08:22

    Hi Maria Isabel,

    Glad to hear you liked the article. Have you got a favourite expression you use in English, or one in Catalan you’d like to know how to translate? If you have, post it here.

Sergi Brumós21 de November de 2016 at 09:17

Hi everyone!

Nice article! I like idioms very much!

I’d like to know the translation of “cuando el río suena, agua lleva”. My guess is “there’s no smoke without fire”.

Here’s an example:

Kate: Have your heard about the new Marta’s boyfriend? They say he’s been in prison and that he’s a kind of bully.

John: That’s not true! I know him and he’s very nice!

Kate: Well, there’s no smoke without fire…



Analia Haeberli21 de November de 2016 at 13:02

THANKS!!! It´s very useful! i´ll remember the examples!

see you!


    Patricia Benson22 de November de 2016 at 10:27

    Hi Analia and Sergi,
    It’s great to get feedback like this and see that you enjoy the posts and top of that think they are useful. Now I know I am not “barking up the wrong tree!”

    See you.

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