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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘¡Al grano!’

Here’s a short but sweet expression that will help you save time when talking to Spaniards. 

Spanish Expression of the Day: '¡Al grano!'
Ir al grano means to get straight to the point, to cut to the chase or to spit it out. Photo: Dan Burton/Unsplash

The word grano has many meanings in Spanish. 

It can refer to a grain, bean or seed, such as un grano de arroz (a grain of rice), un grano de café (a coffee bean) or un grano de mostaza (a mustard seed). 

It can also be used to speak about a zit or blemish that you get on your skin in the sense of acne, such as tengo un grano en la frente (I’ve got a spot on my forehead). 

There’s even the expression aportar tu granito de arena, which in the literal sense means to give your small grain of sand, but actually means to do your bit or to give your two cents. 

But in today’s Spanish Expression of the Day, we’ll focus on another very handy expression which includes the word grano al grano to be exact.

Ir al grano means to get straight to the point, to cut to the chase or to spit it out.

So if you want someone in Spain to stop beating about the bush with what they’re doing or saying and get to the nitty-gritty, this is the expression to use. 

Obviously it’s an informal expression which, just like in English, you should use with someone you know well and can afford to tell them to ‘get on with it!’. 

Examples:

¡Deja de andarte por las ramas, hombre! Vete al grano y dime que te pasa.

Stop beating about the bush, man! Spit it out and tell me what’s up with you. 

¡Ya basta de andarse con rodeos! ¡Al grano!

Enough with the messing around! Get on with it!

Juan ha ido directo al grano y le ha dicho a María que está enamorado de ella.

Juan got straight to the point and told María that he is in love with her. 

For extra brownie points from your Spanish friends and family, you should learn the most famous lines of the catchy (and raunchy) 1991 hit Estoy Por Ti by Spanish pop duo Amistades Peligrosas, who sing: “Pero basta ya de tanta tontería, hoy voy ir al grano, te voy a meter mano” (Enough with all the silliness, today I’m cutting to the chase, I’m going to feel you up). 

Different times the nineties, we’re not so sure that today’s political correctness would have allowed the duo to cut to the chase and sing about their true intentions.

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SPANISH WORD OF THE DAY

Spanish Expression of the Day: ‘Darle la vuelta a la tortilla’

Flipping a Spanish omelette is an artform, but this is also an expression which has nothing to do with your culinary skills.

Spanish Expression of the Day: 'Darle la vuelta a la tortilla'

Spaniards love to refer to food in their idiomatic expressions, even when what they’re talking about has absolutely nothing to do with grub. 

We actually have an article which covers nine of these amazing foody expressions (which we’re sure you’ll enjoy after today’s Spanish Expression of the Day).

But what’s more quintessentially Spanish than una tortilla de patatas (omelette with potatoes)?

If you’ve ever made one, you’ll know that one of the hardest moments is when it comes to turning the omelette for the other side to cook. Some people carefully slide it onto a plate before placing it down again on the other side in the frying pan, whereas the more confident chefs will flip the tortilla directly from the sartén (frying pan). 

READ ALSO: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas

So what does the idiomatic expression dar la vuelta a tortilla mean?

Dar la vuelta a tortilla, or darle la vuelta a la tortilla in its more common reflexive form, refers to when you turn a situation around, from negative to positive.

So if a football coach encourages his players to darle la vuelta a la tortilla when they’re 2-0 down, he’s not asking them to put their aprons on and get cooking, he’s egging them on (pun intended) to make a comeback.

If a business deal is about to fall through, but your killer presentation manages to convince the investors to commit to the project, that means you’ve managed to darle la vuelta a la tortilla.

Or if a couple whose relationship is on the rocks is able to darle la vuelta a la tortilla, it means that they make up and avoid the break-up. 

In its literal sense, the expression translates to ‘flipping over the omelette’ or ‘turning the omelette around’.

Often we can trace back the origins of certain Spanish expressions and find interesting stories, but on this occasion it wasn’t Miguel de Cervantes who came up with this saying whilst cooking up a mean Spanish omelette, with onions of course. 

READ ALSO: Daily dilemmas – Is Spanish tortilla better with or without onions?

Darle la vuelta a la tortilla is a colloquial expression but it can still be used in all types of situations as it isn’t rude or derogatory.  

You can also say darle la vuelta a algo (turn something around), but why wouldn’t you want to use the tortilla expression if it’s fit for all purposes?

Examples:

¡Vamos equipo! Vamos a darle la vuelta a la tortilla y remontar el partido.

Come on, team! Let’s turn things around and make a comeback in this match. 

La reunión se puso cuesta arriba, pero supimos darle la vuelta a la tortilla y los inversores han comprado nuestro producto. 

The meeting was looking like an uphill battle, but we were able to turn things around and the investors bought our product. 

La situación se puso fea y parecía que iba a haber una pelea, pero Alberto con su labia pudo darle la vuelta a la tortilla.

Things weren’t looking good and it looked like there was going to be a brawl, but Alberto and his gift of the gab were able to turn the situation around.

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