Expressions with “a” Posted by on Mar 30, 2009 in Spanish Culture, Spanish Vocabulary

Here are some very interesting expressions with the preposition “a”. Check them out!

A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando – being a hypocrite
A grandes rasgos – in outline, broadly speaking
A ojo de buen cubero – by rule of thumb
A otro perro con ese hueso – Go try that on somebody else.
A perro flaco, todo son pulgas – It never rains, but it pours.
A rajatabla – strictly, to the letter
A río revuelto, ganancia de pescadores. – It’s good fishing in troubled waters.
Al pie de la letra – literally
Andar a gatas – to crawl, to go on all fours
Andar a la pesca de algo – to be looking for something
Comer a dos carrillos – to devour, to gobble up
Despedirse a la francesa – to leave without saying goodbye.
Echar pelillos a la mar – to make up, become friends again
Estar a partir un piñón – to be bosom pals
Llover a cántaros – to pour with rain
Mandar a paseo – to tell somebody to get lost
Reír a carcajadas – to roar with laughter
Saber a la perfección – to know something perfectly
Vérsele a uno el plumero – to know what someone is up to
Vivir a cuenta de alguien – to live off somebody
Vivir a cuerpo de rey – to live like a king
Zapatero, a tus zapatos. – Mind your own business.

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About the Author: Adir

English / Spanish teacher and translator for over 20 years. I have been blogging since 2007 and I am also a professional singer in my spare time.


  1. Luis Ortiz-Monasterio:

    Excelente aportación, pero “A rajatabla”no és “Strictly, to the letter” pués éso es “A pié juntillas”. “At once!”, és lo apropiado. Ojalá lo modifique A RAJATABLA! Salud!

  2. david carmona:

    Gracias por el comentario, pero el significado aportado para “a rajatabla” es correcto. Esa locución puede emplearse también para expresar “at all costs”. “A pie/s juntillas” tiene un significado distinto (sin discusión, sin cuestionar, ciegamente). No he visto nunca “a rajatabla” con el significado de “inmediatamente”. Es posible que sea un localismo.

  3. soledad:

    “A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando” does not mean “being a hypocrite.” A literal translation would be “To God praying and with the hammer pounding (working)” which figurativelly means “God helps those who help themselves.”

  4. david carmona:

    Both uses of the expression are correct, although the one referring to hypocrisy is more common. When trying to interpret the proverb, look at the context in which it’s being used. That will determine how you should translate it in each case.