Great Spanish Slang to Make You Sound Like You Belong in Spain

I don’t know about you, but in my high school we learned Mexican/South-American Spanish. Now there’s nothing wrong with this (except for the part we totally skipped a tense [vosotros]), but when I decided to study abroad in Spain, I knew I wanted to learn Spain Spanish (Castilian Spanish). Only one problem: I didn’t know any Spaniards, nor had I entered the wonderful world of blogs. So I came to Spain in 2008 with very little knowledge of colloquial Castilian Spanish.

But you? No need to worry—I’ve got you covered. Here are some of my favorite ways to sound totally guay in Spain:

Es la caña

¡Es la caña!

Alternate versions: ¡Es la leche! ¡Es la bomba! ¡ Es la pera (limonera)!
Meaning: It’s awesome!
How to use it: ¡El nuevo coche de José es la caña!

Está como un cencerro

Está como un cencerro

Alternate versions: Está como una cabra. Está como una regadera.
Meaning: He/She/It is crazy.
How to use it: Mi vecino siempre está subiendo y bajando las escaleras, hablándose a sí mismo. Está como un cencerro.

Qué chula

¡Qué chulo!

Alternate versions: ¡Qué guay! ¡Qué pasada! ¡Genial! ¡Chachi (more for kids)!
Meaning: Awesome! Cool!
How to use it: ¿Has visto la camiseta de la selección? ¡Qué chula!

Quinto Pino

Está en el quinto pino

Alternate version: Está el quinto pimiento
Meaning: It’s very far away /it’s out in the middle of nowhere.
How to use it: El nuevo centro comercial está en el quinto pino; se tarda 45 minutos en coche.

Me Cae Gordo

Me cae gordo

Alternate version: Me cae (muy) mal.
Meaning: I don’t like him/her at all.
How to use it: Mi nuevo compañero de trabajo me cae gordo. Siempre me interrumpe.

Vete a freír espárragos

Vete a freír espárragos

Alternate version: Vete a hacer puñetas.
Meaning: Go away / leave me alone.
How to use it: ¡Deja de molestarme y vete a freír espárragos!

Dar la lata

Dar la lata

Alternate versions: Dar la paliza. .Dar la vara. Dar la chapa. Dar la murga.
Meaning: To pester/bother someone. To be tiresome.
How to use it: Ojalá Susana deje de darme la lata con todas sus preguntas.

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Me importa un pimiento

Alternate versions: Me importa un pepino. Me importa un comino. Me importa un pito.
Meaning: I could give a damn / It doesn’t matter to me at all.
How to use it: Las ideas del presidente me importan un pimiento.

Qué fuerte

¡Qué fuerte!

Meaning: Unbelievable! / No way!
How to use it: A: ¿Sabes lo que le ha pasado a Raúl? ¡Resulta que se casó y nadie lo sabía!
B: ¡Qué fuerte!

Me lo pasé pipa

Me lo pasé pipa

Alternate versions: Me lo pasé bomba. Me lo pasé en grande.
Meaning: I had an amazing time.
How to use it: Me lo pasé pipa en el concierto.

What are your favorite Spanish expressions to make you sound like a total native?

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29 comments

  1. YES you used Gordo from my all-time favorite Disney Channel show! My Spanish has been forever tainted by my boyfriend, so I wouldn’t say vete a freir esparragos, I would say something vulgar like vete a tomar por culo or vete al carajo. Sad, but true!

    1. Haha, yes, those are indeed “alternates,” but since this is a family blog (jk), I didn’t include them. Mario is like the opposite; he never uses curse words (mild though they may be in Spanish) around me. But then around his friends it’s a different story. But he would probably never say “Vete a tomar por culo.” I learn those phrases from his cousins.

      1. Haha, not many people know the non-vulgar versions, hm? Actually I’ve not heard many people say that espárragos thing, I just think it’s a hilarious way to say it. Much funnier than the vulgar version! Makes me think of my high-school teacher who insisted that cursing/vulgar language just showed you weren’t creative enough.

  2. Long ago along my path to learning Spanish idioms, I decided that, should I ever open a bar in Spain, I’d call it “El Quinto Vino”. Perhaps ever fifth drink could be discounted or something.

    Good ones. Some of them were new to me.

  3. I feel totally inauthentic using Mexican slang I didn’t grow up with. There are some phrases like “me cae gordo” that I heard as a kid, but others like “qué chido” that I feel funny using,

    1. I’m assuming “qué chido” is Mexico’s equivalent of “qué guay”, right? Yeah, I feel funny using some of these phrases too, because they’re not that common. Like the “vete a freír espárragos” because most Spaniards would just say “vete a tomar por culo.” They have no problems being vulgar.

  4. i can’t help love posts about languages and their differences, manners, etc haha!

    “vete a freir esparragos” is technical and posh, and almost no-one or no-one uses it, people just prefer the very bad, vurgal and thick “vete a tomar por culo” or simply “vete a la mierda”.

    “me lo pase pipa” is another one that sounds posh or sophisticated, better if you say “me lo pase de puta madre”, which means the same, but with a higher sense of having enjoyed even more.

    1. That’s not true. We do use it as well as “vete a freir monas”. Probably most people prefer a tomar por culo, but we use all of them.

      1. Ani, por favor no me digas que no es verdad ni me dejes por mentiroso….no se donde vives, pero aqui en mi pueblo nunca he oido “vete a freir esparragos”, nunca.

        si que lo he oido en la television, pero nunca cara a cara, de todas formas España es un pais regional con muchas diferencias, y lo de un sitio no se aplica en otro muchas veces. Y tampoco he oido “vete a freir monas”

        esto es lo que he oido:
        1. vete a la mierda.
        2. vete a tomar por culo.
        3. vete a la puta mierda.
        4. vete a tomar por saco.
        5. vete a otro sitio a dar por saco.
        6. vete a la jeringa.
        etc

  5. Before a good nights drinking:

    “Vamos a ponernos como las grecas”
    “Vamos a ponernos muy finos”
    “Me voy a poner cicatera”

    Also a fan of using “a jierro” a lot.

    Haha! With thanks to my Spanish language guru, my housemate from La Mancha.

    Lucy

  6. Really? I am spanish and we don’t use most of those words or expressions. Tust me If you say anything of these you’ll look as a retarded.

    1. Good to know. Just so you know, “retarded” is offensive, and perhaps YOU shouldn’t say it, because you’ll sound like an ignorant imbecile. Just so you know.

  7. I’ve never used these toned down phrases… such as “vete a freir esparragos”! Mine have always been more rude like “Vete a la mierda”, or “Que te follen gilipollas! “

  8. Question. I hear a lot of people from Mexico and Puerto Rico use the expression “eso es!” or “eso!” when they’re excited about something. Is there a version of this in Spain? Or do they say the same thing?

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