Just like in English, there are tons of famous Spanish quotes and proverbs that nearly everyone knows in the Spanish-speaking world. Of course, every region has its own set that is more common, but in general, many of the most famous quotes are universally known.
As you’re learning Spanish, there are all kinds of quotes that are helpful for you, too. Funny quotes, inspirational quotes in Spanish, literary quotes, etc. Any of these well-known quotes serve as great Spanish lessons for you.
So in today’s article, you’ll be learning about some of the most well-known quotes and proverbs. You better be ready because today you’re learning about Spanish vocabulary, culture, a bit of grammar, and some inspirational quotes in Spanish that will stand true in la vida.
Funny Spanish quotes
Before getting into anything too serious, let’s check out some funny Spanish quotes. Most of these are all going to be cultural references that people know.
These Spanish quotes might not be phrases that Spanish speakers use in their daily life, but they probably are familiar with them either from television, movies, or their mom’s Facebook wall. So in order to learn Spanish today, we’ll start off with a few laughs.
“Algo malo debe de tener el trabajo o los ricos ya lo habrían acaparado” – Cantinflas
English: There must be something bad about working, otherwise the rich would have already hoarded all the jobs.
Cantinflas was a world-renowned Mexican actor during Hollywood’s Golden Age. He tended to stand up for the working class by mixing some harsh social critiques with his humor, which you can see here.
The translation is a bit clunky here, but the quote basically means that the rich would have kept all those jobs for themselves if working was any good or enjoyable. This comes from his film Ahí Está El Detalle, a great, funny classic that’s full of a lot of political criticism.
So if you like old films and you like to laugh, consider learning more about Cantinflas; his movies are full of quotable lines!
“Paren el mundo, que me quiero bajar” – Mafalda. Quino
English: Stop the world, cause I want to get off.
Mafalda might not be a common name to people from an English-speaking family, but it absolutely is to the Spanish-Speaking world, especially in countries like Spain and Argentina. Mafalda was a comic book series featuring a young, sarcastic, witty girl with a lot to say about this world.
“Paren el mundo que me quiero bajar” is a funny line for any of you with a more cynical sense of humor. As if the world were a train, she doesn’t want to be on the planet anymore. We’ve had similar quotes in English, so it shouldn’t need too much explanation.
But here’s a mini grammar lesson for you – did you notice what the “que” does here? You can use also “que” as a connector that means “because / cause”. You didn’t think you were going to get out of this article with learning even a little bit of Spanish grammar, did you?
“-¿Qué me pasa doctor? -Pues que es usted autónomo” – Forges
English: “What’s wrong with me doctor? – Well, you’re a freelancer”
Anybody that has ever started their own business or worked as a freelancer might be able to relate to this one. Forges was a famous cartoonist from Spain, so naturally, he has a lot of great drawings that make fun of society.
The quote is simple and makes fun of the fact that it’s not easy to run your own business.
You can check out a famous Twitter account that posts these comics here!
“Si hay que ir se va… pero ir pa ná es tontería.” – José Mota
English: If one must leave, they leave, but going for nothing is nonsense.
José Mota is a famous Spanish comedian, with his most famous works coming from the last decade. In Spain, even if someone hasn’t watched his shows, they’ve probably heard of or even used his quotes.
The translation isn’t very clear without the context. Basically, the quote is used when someone is reluctant to do something, so they are expressing “I’ll go if I have to, but it better not be for nothing”.
So this is a good one you can easily incorporate into your own life and even though it’s a little old, people still use it.
“¡Tú eres el líder Mike, debes decidir!” – Goyo Jiménez
English: You’re the leader, Mike, you should decide!
Another famous comedian, Goyo Jiménez had an act that became a sensation in the Spanish-speaking world by making fun of dumb American horror movies.
As an interesting Spanish fact, in many countries, there is usually a Spanish language version of Hollywood movies (dubbed, rather than subbed) and more often than not, the dialogue comes out to be a bit …unnatural.
So in his famous Stand-Up comedy act on the show El Club de la Comedia, he pokes at the cheesy dialogue from horror movies.
Unless you have an advanced Spanish level, it might be difficult to understand the entire act, but if you say this line when none of your friends are making a concrete decision (group indecision is universal), you’ll definitely impress your Spanish friends.
Inspirational Quotes in Spanish
Now that we’ve gone through some funny quotes for you ready, it’s time for some slightly more serious ones. All of these Spanish quotes are well-known, some more or less, depending on the country.
Regardless, these inspirational quotes in Spanish are a good way to practice your language skills and reflect on important cosas de la vida.
Todos se quejan de falta de dinero, pero de falta de inteligencia, nadie
English: Everyone complains about a lack of money, but no one about a lack of intelligence.
This one is simple: everyone says they want more money but no one says they want to be smarter. A quick Spanish quote to remind you that money isn’t everything.
A los tontos no les dura el dinero
English: For fools, money doesn’t last long
On the theme of money, this is another well-known quote. It’s pretty self-explanatory and many people will use this quote when they see a loved one waste their money. Either that or when they’re complaining about a loved one wasting their money.
No cuentes los días, haz que los días cuenten
English: Don’t count your days, make your days count.
These next few are cute Spanish quotes that are much more positive (more positivity is always a good thing!)
The best part about this one is that the literal translation works in English, too. It means that instead of focusing so much on the future, make the most of the present.
Aprender a dudar es aprender a pensar – Octavio Paz
English: Learning to doubt is learning to think
Octavio Paz won the Nobel Prize for Literature and was a hugely influential Mexican poet. He has many Spanish quotes that are relevant to life, but this one is famous worldwide. In short, it means not believing everything you hear.
He was definitely a fan of those critical thinking skills we were supposed to be learning in school!
La vida es un eco, si no te gusta lo que estás recibiendo, fíjate en lo que estás emitiendo.
English: Life is an echo, if you don’t like what you’re getting, pay attention to what you’re putting out.
Again, this is another one of those inspirational quotes in Spanish that works well in English, too! Spanish quotes like these are perfect for learners since it is easy to understand and it’s easy to apply to your own life.
Still need help with the Spanish reflexive verbs like fíjate? Click that link to find out more about them!
Nunca dejes de soñar, de los sueños está hecha la vida
English: Never stop dreaming, dreams are what life is made of.
Everyone could use some more motivational quotes in their life, so here is a nice saying to remind yourself every morning to keep your chin up.
They should put more Spanish quotes like these on mugs because this quote would go perfectly with your morning coffee.
Famous Literary Quotes
Now of course, no list of Spanish quotes would be complete if it didn’t include some literary powerhouses. We won’t list every one of the inspirational quotes in Spanish that you can find in literature, but just a couple to get you started.
Here are just 7 incredibly famous Spanish quotes that you should know:
1. El camino – Miguel Delibes
“Las cosas podían haber sucedido de otra manera y, sin embargo, sucedieron así”
English: Things could have turned out another way and, however, they happened this way.
Miguel Delibes’ famous novel, El Camino, is set in rural Spain right after the civil war. His novel is harshly realistic and talks about life poetically with a tinge of subtle humor. This quote from his novel basically just means that you can’t control life.
The context of this quote is right after the civil war and, after reflecting on the events, he thinks “Well, this shouldn’t have happened, but it did.”
Anyone interested in modern Spanish history should read this book, but even if you don’t want to, it’s still full of inspirational Spanish quotes to think about.
2. La vida es sueño – Calderón de la Barca
|Spanish Verses||English Translation|
|¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,||What is life? A thing that seems,|
|una sombra, una ficción,||A mirage that falsely gleams,|
|y el mayor bien es pequeño:||Phantom joy, delusive rest,|
|que toda la vida es sueño,||Since is life a dream at best,|
|y los sueños, sueños son.”||And even dreams themselves are dreams|
La Vida Es Sueño is an absolute classic from the Siglo de Oro (Golden Century) in the 1600s. And even though it’s such an old book, you can ask any Spaniard and they’ll tell you that they’ve read this poem in high school.
The translation here is from the official adaptation, so it’s not a word-for-word English translation. Much like Shakespeare’s works, Calderón de La Barca wrote many plays about free will, fate, and the mysteries of life.
This quote simply describes that life is a dream, a mystery, and you’ll never figure it out completely. So even if you’re not a big theater fan, you’ll be hearing a lot of Spanish quotes from these works.
3. Fuenteovejuna – Lope de Vega
“Fuenteovejuna, todos a una”.
English: Fuenteovejuna did it.
Lope de Vega is one of the biggest names in Spanish literature, also from the 1600s. Fuenteovejuna (the name of a town) focuses on the issues of class struggle within society.
The quote comes from when those in power abused and killed a man, causing the town to rise up and kill the abusive commander.
After this, no one in the town, even under the threat of torture, dares to name the person that killed the commanded, saying only “Fuenteovejuna did it”.
So this is a very famous quote that often highlights class struggles, so it’s something you’ll see in newspapers and other journals.
4. Llegó con tres heridas – Miguel Hernández
|Spanish Verses||English Translation|
|Llegó con tres heridas:||He arrived with three injuries:|
|la del amor,||One from love,|
|la de la muerte,||One from death,|
|la de la vida.||One from life.|
Miguel Hernández is another famous poet that has a lot of Spanish quotes to go through. This poem, however, is very simple.
It basically means that there are three big problems everyone faces in life – love, death, and life itself.
It’s a beautiful poem that’s also been turned into a song by Spanish singer Joan Manuel Serrat. If you need some more quotes about la vida, then his work is a great place to start.
Joan Manuel Serrat also turns a lot of famous poems into songs and they’re very easy to understand, so it’s highly recommended for learners.
5. XXIX. Proverbios y cantares – Antonio Machado
“Caminante, no hay camino. Se hace camino al andar.”
English: “Walker, there is no path. The path is made by walking”
These inspirational Spanish quotes by Antonio Machado are some of the most well-known motivational quotes out there. The meaning is simple – you must carve your own path in life.
If you like Spanish poetry, you should definitely check out Antonio Machado. And again, Joan Manuel Serrat also turned this wonderful poem into a song, in case you’re more of an audio learner.
6. Dámaso Alonso
“Tal vez sea verdad: que un corazón es lo que mueve el mundo”
English: Maybe it’s true: that a heart is what moves the world
Dámaso Alonso wrote about the human condition and his works are full of Spanish quotes that talk about what life is and what it means to exist as a human. This quote comes from Hijos de la Ira (Children of Wrath) and refers to the fact that what’s most important in life is your heart.
7. Gabriel García Márquez
“Un hombre solo tiene derecho de mirar a otro hacia abajo cuando tiene que ayudarlo a levantarse”.
English: A man only has the right to look down on another when he needs to help them get up.
Gabriel García Márquez is another literary genius with a Nobel Prize. His works often focus on what it means to be human and make some witty remarks about society.
Many of his Spanish quotes rely on puns and double meanings of words, like in this one. However, this is one of his best inspirational quotes in Spanish and is something that you can definitely keep in mind.
So now that we’ve gone through some funny Spanish quotes, some inspirational quotes about la vida, and very well-known inspirational quotes in Spanish literature, it’s time to look at some common proverbs.
These are typically all going to be expressions that a Spanish speaker’s mother would say to them. The direct English translation isn’t always very understandable, since they often are very poetic and meant to rhyme.
We’ll also give a short explanation for each of them, so you understand the context.
“A la cama no te irás sin saber una cosa más”
English: To bed, you won’t go without knowing one more thing.
The English equivalent to this proverb is simple – every day you learn something new. This is a great one to start with because you can see how the sentence is structured so that irás rhymes with más. A lot of proverbs and other inspirational quotes will do this so that they’re easier to remember.
“A palabras necias, oídos sordos”
English: To dumb words, deaf ears
Another one of the best inspirational quotes in Spanish to live your life by. This basically means not to pay attention to the haters. The classical English equivalent is “To mad words, deaf ears”.
A more modern interpretation would be “haters gonna hate”.
“A rey muerto, rey puesto”
English: A dead king, a king put (to rest)
Here you can see why literal translations don’t exactly express exactly what the proverb means. A more accurate equivalent would be “The King is dead. Long live the King!”
This quote reflects the fact that life is ever-changing. Kings will come and go and you’ll soon forget about the past. It’s one of the best Spanish quotes that’s used to remind someone that everything in life can change.
“Agua que no has de beber, déjala correr”
English: The water you shouldn’t drink, let it run.
There are not really any good English translations for this quote, but it’s close to the expression “don’t be a dog in the manger”, meaning that people shouldn’t hoard what they can’t use.
There’s a very old proverb that is “Scald not your lips on another man’s pottage”, but it’s not very commonly used anymore.
The proverb in Spanish, however, means to let things run their course. Don’t bother with what other people do in their life, just let it be.
“De tal palo, tal astilla”
English: Like stick, like chip
The literal translation isn’t too far off from the expression we have in English – a chip off the old block.
This is used to describe when a son/daughter is exactly like their father/mother.
“Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres”
English: Tell me who you go with and I’ll tell you who you are
You might be able to figure out some of these Spanish quotes without a translation, but this is another great proverb to know about life.
“A man is known by the company he keeps”. It means that you should be careful of who you surround yourself with since, in the end, they are the people that define you.
“Dios los cría y ellos se juntan”
English: God raises them and they get together
Can you figure out the English equivalent of this one? This is used all the time to talk about how people who have the same taste always tend to find each other. And it’s usually used ironically because the people will be a bit strange in some way.
In English, we say – birds of a feather flock together.
“Dos no riñen si uno no quiere”
English: Two don’t fight if one doesn’t want to
Just like in the English quote, “It takes two”, this just means that if either person wants peace, there wouldn’t be a fight.
These are some of the best Spanish quotes about la vida that you should know because you’re likely to see a lot of situations in your life where this is applicable.
“En casa del herrero, cuchillo de palo”
English: In the smith’s house, wooden knife.
This isn’t a quote that is commonly used in English, but it refers to a situation where someone is lacking something when they should be able to get it easily. It’s also used when a child goes the opposite path of their parents’.
For example, if a chef doesn’t have any food at home or if a butcher’s son becomes an animal rights activist, you could use this Spanish proverb.
“No dejes para mañana lo que puedas hacer hoy”
English: Don’t leave for tomorrow what you can do today.
In English, this is a common expression, as well. It’s a great proverb to know about life in either language.
“No hay mal que cien años dure”
English: There’s no evil that lasts 100 years.
This is one of those inspirational quotes to remind you that all bad things eventually end. It’s used to motivate you in life to continue, even through hardship.
“No por mucho madrugar, amanece más temprano”
English: Not by getting up earlier will the sun come out sooner.
This is one of the best Spanish quotes to know for those of you who tend to get ahead of yourself and stress out.
Although there isn’t a good English translation, this is one of those inspirational quotes in Spanish that remind you that you must let things run their course and you shouldn’t stress yourself out by doing pointless things.
It’s often used in relation to your job, meaning that you shouldn’t overwork yourself, especially if it won’t change anything.
“Piensa el ladrón que todos son de su condición”
English: The thief thinks that all are of his condition.
This is one of the great inspirational quotes that we have in English, as well. “The pot calling the kettle black”.
The difference is that Spanish quotes often rhyme, so it’s a bit more fun. This literally translates to the fact that a thief will think everyone else also steals.
This is one of the Spanish quotes that you’ll definitely be able to incorporate into your life, so make sure you don’t forget it!
“Unos tanto y otros tan poco”
English: Some people so much and others so little.
Finally, this last quote isn’t used too often, anymore, but it’s a good way to see how many Spanish proverbs are focused on equality and the human condition.
This is used to talk about the unfairness in life, how some people have so much while others have so little. Perhaps you could see this quote as a way to understand that traditional Spanish quotes and proverbs often focus on equality. This is true in both Latin America and Spain.
Si puedes soñarlo, puedes hacerlo
All of the Spanish quotes and proverbs from today are originally in Spanish. Of course, that shouldn’t stop you from finding out how to say some of your favorite English quotes in Spanish (like this one, from Walt Disney).
Hopefully, some of these quotes will serve you in la vida. So as always, feel free to go ahead and sign up for a free private class or a 7-day free trial of our group classes so you can tell us all about your favorite inspirational quotes in Spanish!
Want to learn Spanish, fast?
Download our e-book, Easy Spanish Shortcuts, and learn your first 1,000 Spanish words in under a day!