This site came about from my 22 plus extended-stay visits to southern Spain to see my in-laws (since 2007). I had been trying to learn Spanish since around 2000, and had been through all of the learn-at-home materials such as Learn Spanish in Your Car, back when cars had only cassette players. In addition, I had audited four Spanish courses at the local university.
The problem, which I was finally able to articulate in 2015 after understanding a tad more, was that every time I stopped someone in mid-Andalusian conversation in order to ask the meaning of a word or ask what the word was so that I could check the dictionary, the response was always “That word isn’t in the dictionary.” Southern Spain is a very special place, which I learned only after spending six months in Madrid in 2013, which is more centrally located.
Initially, I thought all of Spain was like the south, but it isn’t. In my opinion, nothing can compare to the rich culture of southern Spain and the accent. I was not able to understand much of the Spanish spoken in Andalucía because the accent was challenging; they seem to cut off half the word and don’t pronounce any s’s. They also pronounce words that end in “ado” as “ou” as in the English word “ouch.” In many regions, other sounds are also dropped, like in Olvera. On top of that, it seems the majority of phrases used in everyday communication are colloquial expressions. It may not be that high of a percentage, but it seems like it.
In early 2017 when I was trying to come up with a special project to occupy my time while in Spain for 6 months, I landed on this idea; gather the colloquial expressions and put them into a searchable online database so that other language learners can enjoy them too. This served multiple purposes for me. It motivated me to learn Spanish, augmented my formal Spanish classes, and it was a fun way to involve the family and friends. Over the course of six months, I collected approximately 160 phrases to start, mostly from Marbella.
With that, let me just say that this site is not intended to be used to learn how to say something in Spanish, but rather to understand the Spanish that you have heard spoken. If you try to translate from English to Spanish in order to speak with someone, the expression may be useless depending on where you are in Spain, Southern Spain, or other Spanish-speaking countries.
Examples of Spanish Colloquial Expressions
(To be very hot)
(¡Me lo paso pipa!)
(Tajá (from tajada))