Spanish Set Expressions: Estamos a mano (III) Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in Spanish Culture, Spanish Vocabulary

This week’s post presents the last set expressions in Spanish using hands. Today’s picture shows us the Cave of Hands in Santa Cruz, Argentina, a pre-historical painting of hands dating from 13,000 to 9,000 years ago. It’s a great precursor of stencil painting widely used nowadays!


Estar a mano (to be at hand): When something is close enough to be reached by stretching your arm or, more figuratively, when it’s the first available thing. Also, when I owe someone a favour and I finally return it, then Nosotros estamos a mano.

Example: En todos los casos han sido asistidos por quien estaba a mano: el padre, dos adolescentes que pasaban por allí o la hermana de la madre. (In all cases, they were assisted by whoever was at hand: the father, two teenagers walking by or the mother’s sister.)


Tener la mano muy larga (to have a long hand): When someone is always taking more than what is being offered, to the point of stealing and/or when someone can hit you with their hands very easily.

Example: La señora Guiomar tiene la mano muy larga y, a la mínima contrariedad, se pone a repartir bofetadas. (Mrs Guiomar has a long hand, and in the face of any setback she starts distributing slaps.)


Es mi mano derecha (They’re my right hand): As in English, it means your person of utmost trust, mostly at work.

Example: La UCO confirma que ‘Bartolo’, mano derecha de Aguirre, cobró una mordida de 60.000 euros de Púnica. (The UCO confirms that “Bartolo”, right had to Aguirre, received a brive of 60,000 euros from the Púnica network.)



Estar atado de pies y manos (to have feet and hands tied):  This is used to justify why you cannot help someone or why you cannot make a change somebody asks you to do. It moves responsibility up to whoever tied your hands and feet.

Example: El primer ministro ha lamentado públicamente estar atado de pies y manos a la hora de cambiar ciertas políticas. (The primer minister has publicly regretted to have his feet and hands tied in relation to changes to certain policies.)

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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. Jordan:

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