Spanish Language Blog

Spanish Set Expressions: Giving Someone a Hand (II) Posted by on Sep 23, 2016 in Spanish Culture, Spanish Vocabulary

This week post continues with the set expressions in Spanish. Let’s study more expressions with hands, since the Spanish language has a wide variety of meanings for this part of the body. ¡Manos a la obra! 

Poner las manos en el fuego por alguien (to place one’s own hand in the fire for someone): To really show that you trust someone, you claim you would place your hands in the fire. Used by many politicians to defend cases of corruption in their parties.

Example: Felipe González pone la mano en el fuego por “la honradez personal” de Chaves y Griñán. (Felipe González puts his hand in the fire for the “personal honesty” of Chaves and Griñán.)


Tener buena mano para… (to have a good hand for…): When you have a special ability to do something.

Example: Para la cocina hay que tener buena mano. (To cook you need a good hand.)


Ser un manitas (to be handy): Used in Spain only, to be skillful in doing something, mostly household repairs and DIY stuff.

Example: Antes, la gente era muy manitas y la mayoría sabía arreglar su coche por su cuenta. (In the past, people were very handy and knew how to fix their car on their own.)


(Tener) mano dura (to have a firm hand): Used to refer to the authorities, when there is no tolerance for dissent.

Example: El Ayuntamiento pide a la Policía mano dura para controlar el ruido de la Plaza. (The City Council asks the police to control noise at the Square with a firm hand.)


Tener mano izquierda (to have left hand): Official definition: Habilidad o astucia para manejarse o resolver situaciones difíciles, or Skills or wit to handle or solve difficult situations.

Example: Al final todo dependerá de las personas: Patxi López, el nuevo presidente del Congreso, tiene razón al recordar que esta es la hora de políticos con mano izquierda. (In the end, everything depends on the people: Patxi Lopez, the new president of Congress is right to remember that this is the time for politicians with left hand.)


Tirar la piedra y esconder la mano (to throw a stone and hide your hand): To do something and then pretend it’s not one’s own doing; to be hypocritical.

Example: «—Eso de tirar la piedra y esconder la mano, es muy fácil, hija mía, y sólo lo has hecho para darme a entender que sabes más de mi casa que yo misma, lo que es una pretensión ridícula» (Fernán Caballero, Clemencia. Madrid: 1852). (That thing of throwing the stone and hiding your hand, is very easy, my child, and you only did it to show me that you know more about my house than myself, which is a ridiculous claim.)

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About the Author: Paula

Born in Buenos Aires, living in Barcelona, I mostly write about cultural topics in Spanish from Spain and Latin America.


  1. Paul:

    Thank you for sharing. Any help with idioms is always welcome.