Learning idioms is a great way to improve your Spanish. Here are some handy Spanish idioms that use the elements: water, earth and fire to convey ideas and expressions. The elements are some of the most common words used in expressions in every language, so why not take the time to learn them in Spanish?
If you want to skip down to specific idioms, then use this handy contents table here:
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Why learn Spanish idioms
Spanish idioms are very useful and will definitely improve your Spanish if you take the time to learn them. Here are some of the reasons why they’re so useful.
- Spanish idioms are often used in the DELE exam. So by learning a few, you increase your chances of passing the exam
- Learning Spanish idioms will make you sound like a native
- Learning idioms teaches you more about the culture of the language you’re learning
- It stops you from getting mixed up when someone says a strange sentence to you because you will actually know what it means
- They’re fun!
Check out some more common Spanish idioms here to improve your fluency.
Spanish Phrases with fire
Fuego = fire
Dar fuego – to give a light (as in a cigarette)
This phrase is used literally to light a cigarette, joint or cigar is the only time you would use this phrase.
Echar fuego por los ojos – when you’re really angry
Think of this is having fire in your eyes to signify rage, like you might see in a cartoon.
Jugar con el fuego – playing with fire
This means the same as the English phrase to play with fire. When you’re in a situation that could be a bit dangerous, or you’re taking a risk with someone. It’s normally used to describe situations with people rather than dangerous situations due to other circumstances.
Sacar las castañas del fuego – to make problems disappear
For example: if you get in trouble at school but your mum is the head teacher, you can ask them to make your problems disappear with this phrase.
A fuego lento – a slow burn
Something that takes a bit longer. It could be used to describe a friendship.
Abrir fuego – open fire
This phrase is used with soldiers when they’re being told to shoot.
Soy pure fuego – I’m pure fire/passionate
This could be used to describe someone who is very passionate or firey. Often used to describe a more romantic situation.
Echar más lena al fuego – to throw more wood on the fire (to make the situation worse)
A good example of this would be if two people were arguing and you add some information that makes the argument worse.
Spanish Phrases with Earth
Tierra = earth
Echar tierra – to muddy the water
This phrase signifies that you are trying to make something less clear, or to hide something.
Poner tierra por medio – To put distance between you and your problems
An example of this would be if you had problems with your family in the USA and you decided to move to Spain to get away from them and put some distance between yourself and your problem.
Mover cielo y tierra – to move heaven and earth
This means you will go to any extent possible to do something.
Tener los pies en la tierra – to be a person grounded, realistic and practical
The opposite of this is: tener pájaros en la cabeza. This signifies someone with their head in the clouds.
Spanish Phrases with water
Agua = water
Estar con el agua al cuello – to be in deep trouble
Basically when you get yourself into trouble greater than you can handle. If you’ve misbehaved and you know you will get in trouble from your parents then you are in water up to your neck.
Agua pasada – water under the bridge
This phrase is usually used when there has been an issue or problem between people in the past, but now the issue has little importance.
Como dos gotas de agua – like two peas in a pod
This phrase is used when two people are very similar, either in appearance or in character.
Nunca digas de esta agua no beberé – never say never
You should never say that you will never do something because you never know if the opportunity will present itself some day.
Estar entre dos aguas – to be on the fence
If you have two options and you’re not sure which one to choose then this phrase demonstrates that thought perfectly.
Hacerse la boca agua – to be mouthwatering
When something looks absolutely delicious you can sue this phrase to describe it.
Cuando el río suena, agua lleva – where there’s smoke there’s fire
If there’s a reason to be suspicious, you’re probably right. For example, if you think your boyfriend is cheating on your because he is guarding his phone, then it’s likely that he is.
Ahogarse en un vaso de agua – to make a mountain out of a mole hill
When you’re making a problem out of nothing
Como pez en el agua – to be in one’s element
When someone is completely at ease with what they’re doing.
We hope these Spanish phrases have been useful to you. They might seem strange but they can make the world of difference to your Spanish fluency. Water, fire and earth are words that feature in phrases in every language due to being some of the first things any civilisation comes across. You will probably be able to think of similar phrases in your own language.
Let us know if you can think of any of Spanish idioms to add to our list. Or if you think there are any interesting elements we could include in our list, write your suggestions in the comments below.