11 Common Puerto Rican Spanish Idioms

One of the best ways to sound more like a Native speaker in Spanish is to learn some Spanish Idioms.

Today you’ll discover 11 Spanish Idioms—well, Puerto Rican Spanish Idioms—that will help you improve your Spanish.

Idioms can be difficult to translate directly between languages.

That’s because they can have a meaning in one language but not for the other one.

For example, in English, we say, “It’s raining cats and dogs.” But if we directly translated that sentence to another language, it might not have meaning.

In fact, people may look at us like we are crazy.

So to understand these idioms in Spanish, we will do our best to fully explain the meaning.

Below you will see each phrase.

You will be able to listen to each phrase.

Then we will provide an explanation of each phrase for you.

I highly recommend you watch the video above if you haven’t yet because it further touches on this topic.

Puerto Rican Spanish Idioms

1) Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

Meaning: If you don’t take fast action, well you are going to lose the opportunity. In other words, you lost the opportunity because you didn’t react. 

2) Él que no quiere caldo le dan tres tazas.

Meaning: When you want to avoid something and life gives you more of that which you don’t want. 

3) A falta de pan, galletas.

Meaning: That’s what it is, if there isn’t one, well, there’s the other. 

4) De tal palo, tal astilla.

Meaning: This is like saying that, he is the same as his father, that is, he inherited it from his father, he cannot deny it, it is the same. In other words, he has things in common with his father or his mother.

5) A cada lechón le llega su noche buena.

Meaning: If you are a person who deals badly with others, sooner or later something bad will happen to you; life is going to charge you.

6) Lo que no mata, engorda.

Meaning: When you are eating something in front of you that you know can hurt you, but you say “oh, screw it, forget it, what doesn’t kill makes you fat.” Like, I’m going to feed myself however I want.

7) Cuentas claras conservan amistades.

Meaning: If you owe something to a friend like money but pay them back, you keep your word and maintain your friendship. But if you are a person who lies to your friends, you won’t be able to keep those friendships. That’s why we say, “clear accounts preserve friendships.”

8) Aunque la mona se viste de seda, mona se queda.

Meaning: You are a person who dresses super well, brand, you perfume, you go to the barber but if you are ugly, you will stay ugly, no matter what you wear.

9) Al buen entendedor pocas palabras bastan. 

Meaning: For example, when people come to your house without warning, and you want to give someone a hint without saying it out loud, you say, “few words are enough.” In other words, you give the person a hint, so they understand.

10) La piña está agria.

Meaning: Let’s say I call you and I tell you, “We’re going to the disco today.” Now, let’s say that you wanted to earn $500 this week, but you only made $300. So, you tell me “no, I’m not going because la piña está agria.” In other words, you know you are not doing what you wanted to do and if you go and spend money at the club, then you are going to be broke.

11) Cuando tú ibas yo venía!

Meaning: I have already been where you are going. 

Try your hand at some of these phrases today

Practice them until you feel comfortable using them, then don’t be afraid to throw them into a conversation with others.

Just by using these, you will come off as more “Native-like.”

And at the end of the day, that’s what most of us want.

If this post helped you out, please share it with a friend.

And if you’re really looking to take your Spanish to the next level, check out some of our Spanish courses here.


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