English proverbs and their Spanish equivalents

Proverbs are an important and special part of every language. For native speakers using them is a habit, but for learners it is a bit more difficult, because you can´t always translate the sayings from your own language into the foreign language word by word. Following you will find a small list of sayings that have a similar equivalent in Spanish and basically mean the same. Thus you can try to speak a bit more like a native speaker and therefore improve your communication skills in English.

1. Home is where the heart is.
Spanish equivalent: A dónde el corazón se inclina, el pie camina.
As I said, the meaning is basically the same, but the word by word translation is not. This would be: En casa es donde está el corazón. Metaphorically the heart here is located in some part of the world, meaning there is something you love, and therefore this is your home. Obviously, the question what ´´home´´ defines is a much bigger discussion we can´t debate here.

2. Two in distress makes sorrow less.
Spanish equivalent: Desgracia compartida, menos sentida.
Doing something unpleasant together with somebody else makes things often easier for the most people. So this is what the proverb recommends: to share distress.

3. You can judge a man by the company he keeps.
Spanish equivalent: Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.
Well, you can discuss this topic as well, but the meaning of both sayings is the same: Your friends say a lot about yourself. So we shall be careful!

4. The early bird catches the worm.
Spanish equivalent: El que madruga coge la oruga.
What an awful proverb! People who love to get up early love saying this to sleepy late risers with a grand smile in their face. It´s annoying, no matter whether you want to catch the worm or the caterpillar.

5. No bees, no honey; no work, no money.
Spanish equivalent: El que no trabaje, que no coma.
There are various proverbs that tell us that we have to work to live well, both in English and in Spanish and in any other languages. This is only one of them.

6. Time and tide wait for no man.
Spanish equivalent: El tiempo pasa inexorablemente.
How often does it happen that you stand still suddenly and you realize how quickly the time has passed again since a certain event in the past? I assume this is a worldwide phenomenon which explains the many expressions about time flying in different languages.

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7. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
Spanish equivalent: En las malas se conocen a los amigos.
The Spanish equivalent here is a bit different to the English proverb. The word by word translation would be: Un amigo que está en un momento de necesidad es un amigo verdadero. But all in all both sentences talk about real friends and that they show especially in difficult situations.

8. The grass looks greener on the other side of the fence.
Spanish equivalent: Gusta lo ajeno, más por ajeno que por bueno.
This proverb is about the very bad human habit to always desire what you don´t have at the moment. The English proverb actually says: La hierba al otro lado dela cerca es más verde. In the end both versions show us how stupid this habit actually is.

9. One man´s meat is another man´s poison.
Spanish equivalent: Nunca llueve a gusto de todos.
You can never satisfy everyone, this is what this proverb says. The English say it with meat, the Spanish with rain.

10. An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Spanish equivalent: A diario una manzana es cosa sana.
Of course this proverb doesn´t only want to tell us, that we should eat a lot of apples, but it is said most times in exactly these situations when someone is eating an apple. Although the word by word translations are a bit different, both mean to eat healthy so that you don´t get ill.

Sarafina Märtz