25 Mexican Sayings & Proverbs Natives Use in Conversations (with Examples)

Imagine you are trying to solve a puzzle, but you don’t have all the pieces. Knowing Mexican sayings is like finding those missing pieces! When you use these sayings, people will understand you better, and you’ll sound more like them.

(It’s like learning the secret password to join a fun club.)

Want to blend in more? Spring Spanish (a project I co-founded) made a video on how you can become a true Mexican:

These Mexican sayings are full of wisdom and can help you give good advice to your friends. They also make your Spanish conversations more colorful and interesting.

Now, let’s jump in and check 25 of them with literal meanings, true meanings and examples!

1. Más vale tarde que nunca. (Better late than never.)

Explanation: This proverb is used to express that it is better to do something late than not doing it at all. It’s a way of encouraging someone who might feel discouraged about completing a task late.

better late than never mexican saying illustrated with a wall clock

Situations to Use It: You can use this when someone apologizes for being late or when they finally accomplish something they’ve been procrastinating on.

  • Example: “Sé que entregué mi tarea tarde, pero al menos la entregué.” (I know I submitted my assignment late, but at least I turned it in.)
  • Response: “Más vale tarde que nunca.” (Better late than never.)

2. El que madruga, Dios lo ayuda. (God helps those who wake up early.)

Explanation: This saying highlights the benefits of getting an early start on your tasks, suggesting that those who put in effort early will be rewarded.

Situations to Use It: Use this when encouraging someone to start their work or responsibilities early in the day.

  • Example: “No tengo ganas de levantarme a las 5 AM para estudiar.” (I don’t feel like waking up at 5 AM for my study session.)
  • Response: “El que madruga, Dios lo ayuda.” (God helps those who wake up early.)

3. Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente. (The shrimp that falls asleep is carried away by the current.)

Explanation: This proverb warns that if you are not vigilant or proactive, you could miss opportunities or face negative consequences.

Situations to Use It: Use this to advise someone to stay alert and take action rather than being passive.

  • Example: “Creo que me voy a saltar el estudio esta noche.” (I think I’ll skip studying tonight.)
  • Response: “Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.” (The shrimp that falls asleep is carried away by the current.)

4. A caballo regalado no se le mira el colmillo. (Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.)

Explanation: This saying advises to be grateful for a gift and not to scrutinize its value or quality.

Situations to Use It: Use this when someone complains about a gift or favor they received.

  • Example: “No me gusta el color de este suéter que me regalaron para mi cumpleaños.” (I don’t like the color of this sweater I got for my birthday.)
  • Response: “A caballo regalado no se le mira el colmillo.” (Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.)

5. No hay mal que por bien no venga. (Every cloud has a silver lining.)

Explanation: This proverb suggests that good things can come out of bad situations, encouraging an optimistic outlook.

Situations to Use It: Use this to comfort someone going through a tough time, reminding them that something positive might come from their struggle.

  • Example: “Perdí mi trabajo la semana pasada; siento que es el fin del mundo.” (I lost my job last week; it feels like the end of the world.)
  • Response: “No hay mal que por bien no venga.” (Every cloud has a silver lining.)

6. Al mal tiempo, buena cara. (Put on a good face in bad times.)

Explanation: This saying advises maintaining a positive attitude even during difficult times.

Situations to Use It: Use this to encourage someone to stay positive despite facing adversity.

  • Example: “Me he sentido deprimido porque todo está yendo mal últimamente.” (I’ve been feeling down because of everything going wrong lately.)
  • Response: “Al mal tiempo, buena cara.” (Put on a good face in bad times.)

7. Perro que ladra no muerde. (A dog that barks doesn’t bite.)

Explanation: This proverb implies that people who make a lot of noise or threats are often not as dangerous as they seem.

a dog that barks doesnt bite mexican saying with an akita

Situations to Use It: Use this to reassure someone who feels threatened by someone else’s words or actions.

  • Example: “Sigue amenazando con despedirme.” (He keeps threatening to get me fired.)
  • Response: “Perro que ladra no muerde.” (A dog that barks doesn’t bite.)

8. Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente. (Out of sight, out of mind.)

Explanation: This saying suggests that if you don’t see something, you won’t be emotionally affected by it.

Situations to Use It: Use this when advising someone to avoid situations or information that might upset them.

  • Example: “No quiero pensar en mi ex-pareja.” (I don’t want to think about my ex-partner.)
  • Response: “Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente.” (Out of sight, out of mind.)

9. El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta. (The one who grasps too much, holds very little.)

Explanation: This proverb warns against trying to do too many things at once, as it may result in not doing any of them well.

Situations to Use It: Use this to advise someone to focus on fewer tasks to ensure better results.

  • Example: “Estoy tomando cinco clases y trabajando en dos empleos.” (I’m taking five classes and working two jobs.)
  • Response: “El que mucho abarca, poco aprieta.” (The one who grasps too much, holds very little.)

10. Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres. (Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.)

Explanation: This saying implies that the people you associate with reflect your character.

Situations to Use It: Use this to advise someone to be mindful of their associations and friendships.

  • Example: “Estoy pensando en salir con ese nuevo grupo.” (I’m thinking about hanging out with that new group.)
  • Response: “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres.” (Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.)

11. El hábito no hace al monje. (The habit doesn’t make the monk.)

Explanation: This proverb suggests that appearances can be deceiving; what you wear or look like doesn’t define who you are.

Situations to Use It: Use this to remind someone that true character is more important than outward appearances.

  • Example: “Se ve muy profesional, pero no es muy competente en su trabajo.” (He looks really professional, but he’s not very competent at his job.)
  • Response: “El hábito no hace al monje.” (The habit doesn’t make the monk.)

12. A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres. (When in Rome, do as the Romans do.)

Explanation: This saying advises to adapt to the customs of the place where you are.

Situations to Use It: Use this when someone is traveling or moving to a new environment and needs to adapt.

  • Example: “Me mudaré a Japón y no estoy seguro de cómo comportarme allí.” (I’m moving to Japan and I’m not sure how to behave there.)
  • Response: “A donde fueres, haz lo que vieres.” (When in Rome, do as the Romans do.)

13. En boca cerrada no entran moscas. (Flies don’t enter a closed mouth.)

Explanation: It’s better to stay silent than to say something that could get you in trouble.

Situations to Use It: Use this when advising someone to remain silent to avoid conflict or problems.

  • Example: “Quiero confrontar a mi jefe por su comportamiento injusto.” (I want to confront my boss about his unfair behavior.)
  • Response: “En boca cerrada no entran moscas.” (Flies don’t enter a closed mouth.)

14. Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos. (Raise crows, and they’ll pluck your eyes out.)

Explanation: This proverb warns that if you help people who are ungrateful, they might betray you.

Situations to Use It: Use this to caution someone about helping those who might turn against them.

  • Example: “Le presté dinero nuevamente, pero nunca me paga de vuelta.” (I lent him money again, but he never pays me back.)
  • Response: “Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos.” (Raise crows, and they’ll pluck your eyes out.)

15. Al que no le cuesta, lo vuelve fiesta. (He who doesn’t pay for it, turns it into a party.)

Explanation: This saying highlights that people don’t value things that they get for free.

Situations to Use It: Use this when someone is reckless or careless with something they didn’t have to work for.

  • Example: “Arruinó completamente el equipo que pidió prestado.” (He completely ruined the equipment he borrowed.)
  • Response: “Al que no le cuesta, lo vuelve fiesta.” (He who doesn’t pay for it, turns it into a party.)

16. Barriga llena, corazón contento. (Full stomach, happy heart.)

Explanation: Good food makes a person feel satisfied and happy.

Situations to Use It: Use this to describe the contentment that comes from enjoying a good meal.

  • Example: “Esa cena fue increíble.” (That was an amazing dinner.)
  • Response: “Barriga llena, corazón contento.” (Full stomach, happy heart.)

17. Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho. (There’s a long way from saying to doing.)

Explanation: It’s easier to say you’ll do something than to actually do it.

Situations to Use It: Use this to remind someone that actions speak louder than words.

  • Example: “Prometo que empezaré a hacer ejercicio mañana.” (I promise I’ll start exercising tomorrow.)
  • Response: “Del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho.” (There’s a long way from saying to doing.)

18. El que busca, encuentra. (He who seeks, finds.)

Explanation: If you look for something, you’ll eventually find it.

Situations to Use It: Use this to encourage someone who is searching for something or working towards a goal.

  • Example: “He estado buscando trabajo durante meses.” (I’ve been job hunting for months.)
  • Response: “El que busca, encuentra.” (He who seeks, finds.)

19. Hierba mala nunca muere. (Bad weed never dies.)

Explanation: Bad things or people seem to persist or last longer than expected.

Situations to Use It: Use this to comment on someone or something undesirable that seems to endure.

  • Example: “Ese compañero de trabajo molesto todavía está aquí.” (That annoying coworker is still here.)
  • Response: “Hierba mala nunca muere.” (Bad weed never dies.)

20. Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo. (The devil knows more because he’s old than because he’s the devil.)

Explanation: Experience and age bring wisdom.

Situations to Use It: Use this to highlight the value of someone’s experience and wisdom.

  • Example: “¿Cómo sabes tanto sobre esto?” (How do you know so much about this?)
  • Response: “Más sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo.” (The devil knows more because he’s old than because he’s the devil.)

21. No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver. (There’s no worse blind person than the one who doesn’t want to see.)

Explanation: It’s difficult to help someone who refuses to acknowledge the truth.

Situations to Use It: Use this to describe someone who is willfully ignorant of the facts.

  • Example: “Sigue ignorando los problemas financieros de su negocio.” (He keeps ignoring the financial problems in his business.)
  • Response: “No hay peor ciego que el que no quiere ver.” (There’s no worse blind person than the one who doesn’t want to see.)

22. El que mucho se despide, pocas ganas tiene de irse. (He who says too many goodbyes has little desire to leave.)

Explanation: If someone keeps saying goodbye, they probably don’t really want to leave.

waving goodbye in front of flashing lights expressing a mexican saying

Situations to Use It: Use this when someone is prolonging their farewell or departure.

  • Example: “Ha estado diciendo adiós durante media hora.” (He’s been saying goodbye for half an hour already.)
  • Response: “El que mucho se despide, pocas ganas tiene de irse.” (He who says too many goodbyes has little desire to leave.)

23. El pez por su boca muere. (The fish dies by its mouth.)

Explanation: Sometimes, what you say can get you into trouble.

Situations to Use It: Use this to warn someone to be careful about what they say.

  • Example: “Creo que voy a contarle a todos su secreto.” (I think I’ll tell everyone about his secret.)
  • Response: “El pez por su boca muere.” (The fish dies by its mouth.)

24. A mal paso, darle prisa. (To a bad step, hurry it along.)

Explanation: If you’re in a bad situation, it’s better to get through it quickly.

Situations to Use It: Use this to encourage someone to deal with an unpleasant situation as swiftly as possible.

  • Example: “Realmente no quiero hacer esta tarea difícil.” (I really don’t want to do this difficult task.)
  • Response: “A mal paso, darle prisa.” (To a bad step, hurry it along.)

25. Zapatero a tus zapatos. (Shoemaker, stick to your shoes.)

Explanation: People should focus on what they know and are good at.

Situations to Use It: Use this to advise someone to stick to their area of expertise.

  • Example: “Creo que empezaré a dar consejos financieros, aunque soy chef.” (I think I’ll start giving financial advice, even though I’m a chef.)
  • Response: “Zapatero a tus zapatos.” (Shoemaker, stick to your shoes.)

Practice Mexican sayings with a worksheet

Fill in the blanks with the correct word or phrase!

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Learn more Mexican sayings and Mexican Spanish with Conversation Based Chunking

Learning Mexican sayings is like finding hidden treasures in a big, colorful world.

These sayings not only make your Spanish sound more natural but also help you understand the heart and soul of Mexican culture. Imagine being able to surprise your friends with cool phrases that make you sound like a local!

One fun and easy way to learn these sayings is through Conversation Based Chunking. This method is like building a tower with Lego blocks. You learn small pieces of language, or “chunks,” in real conversations. Over time, these pieces fit together to make speaking Spanish feel easy and fun!

With Conversation Based Chunking, you can practice using sayings in real-life chats. This way, you remember them better and see how they fit into everyday talk.

So, why wait? Click now and let Conversation Based Chunking be your guide!

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