Spanish Idioms in Practice

Spanish Idioms in Practice : Understanding Language and Culture

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Idiomatic expressions are the 'salt and pepper' of any language. They give Spanish its colour and imagery, its richness and variety.

From set phrases and idioms to metaphorical expressions and proverbs, these essential components allow users to add humour and spice to their language, vividly embodying Hispanic culture while naturalizing their communication style to more closely resemble that of native speakers.

Key features:

Includes a selection of the most widely used idioms from Spain and Latin America;

Idioms are classified into specific and easy-to-reference categories;

Creative activities, exercises, mnemonic devices and learning strategies facilitate the acquisition and mastery of idiomatic language;

Connections between the Spanish language and Hispanic culture are explained and illustrated;

Reference tables at the end of each section highlight similarities between English and Spanish usage of idiomatic language;

Original samples, as well as fragments from various Spanish-speaking countries and well-known literary works, are included to help expose students to the use of idioms in journalistic and literary writing.

Practical, informative and highly entertaining, this is the ideal text for all intermediate and advanced learners of Spanish.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 216 pages
  • 174 x 246 x 15.24mm | 408g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Bilingual edition
  • Bilingual
  • 151 Tables, black and white
  • 0415533929
  • 9780415533928
  • 1,022,225

Table of contents

Introduction. Capitulo 1. Expresiones idiomaticas con comidas, animales, arboles y plantas, y otros elementos de la naturaleza. Capitulo 2. Expresiones idiomaticas con las partes del cuerpo. Capitulo 3. Expresiones idiomaticas con partes de la casa, objetos, ropa y colores. Capitulo 4. Expresiones idiomaticas con lugares, personajes de la historia y de la literatura, nacionalidades y tradiciones culturales. Capitulo 5. Expresiones introducidas por preposiciones. Capitulo 6. Refranes populares. Answer Key. Index.
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Review quote

"Engaging from its very first page, this outstanding book allows students to master the intricacies of Spanish idiomatic language. The authors have created a unique resource that will help students learn hundreds of idiomatic expressions and, most importantly, practice and understand them in context. Carefully crafted learning activities, and varied samples of literary and journalistic texts from different Spanish-speaking countries, illustrate the meticulous research into the use of idiomatic expressions conducted by the authors prior to writing the book. Professors and teachers of Spanish will be delighted to include this exceptional resource in their course syllabi as a means of teaching students to use the Spanish language with the same vividness as native speakers do. I would also recommend this book to native and bilingual Spanish speakers who are interested in expanding their familiarity with idiomatic language and learning about its origins." - Professor Domnita Dumitrescu, California State University, Los Angeles

"I found this to be an excellent guide to Spanish idioms, their meanings and their uses. A combination of good, clear explanations (for example of the origins of some idiomatic expressions), impressive illustrations and thoughtful exercises should enable students to remember and use the host of everyday idioms featured. This most difficult of areas for the non-native speaker is cleverly and memorably broken down so that students of Spanish will feel able to make use of a rich array of expressions which may previously have been only passively registered." - Dr Jonathan Thacker, Merton College, University of Oxford

"This book provides students and teachers with an excellent, up-to-date guide to Spanish idiomatic language. Carefully documented and drawing on diverse sources, it offers a rich selection of the most widely-used idioms in both Spain and Latin America. Students will find a large number of idiomatic expressions usefully classified into semantic fields (food, human body, clothes, nationalities, historical and cultural references, etc.), as well as a wealth of linguistic and cultural information. The inclusion of an answer key to all the exercises and activities makes the book suitable for independent study. Thanks to activities with a strong visual component, useful chapter summaries, engaging self-assessment activities and opportunities for writing practice, students will learn to speak and write Spanish with vividness and clarity. Spanish Idioms in Practice is an essential resource for achieving genuine fluency in the language." - Professor Leonor Ruiz Gurillo, University of Alicant

"Es sabido que las expresiones idiomaticas forman una parte importante de las particularidades de una lengua y su cultura, y que su presencia en el lexicon mental del hablante nativo es fundamental. En este sentido, Spanish Idioms in Practice resulta un material de gran utilidad para que el estudiante de espanol llegue a ser competente en su reconocimiento y uso. En especial, esta obra resulta motivadora y dinamica tanto por las ilustraciones que la acompanan como por la gran variedad de actividades que posee. Concretamente, son de gran valor las tablas de referencia dedicadas a explicar el origen de las expresiones, pues facilitan la comprension de su significado, y las tablas que recogen de forma sintetica las equivalencias de las expresiones en espanol y en ingles, lo cual es altamente beneficioso para estudiantes con lengua materna inglesa." -Clara Urena Tormo, LinRed / Linguistica en la Red 11, 2013 (

"Spanish Idioms in Practice ofrece una excelente seleccion de las expresiones idiomaticas mas usadas en el mundo hispanohablante, procedentes tanto de Espana como de America Latina (gracias a la colaboracion de numerosos hablantes nativos y al uso de corpus linguisticos como el CREA y el CORDE). [...] Debemos destacar las numerosas ilustraciones que forman parte del libro, que no solo lo convierten en una obra visualmente atractiva, sino que tambien ayudan a entender las diferentes expresiones y palabras de las que se componen, funcionando como un eficaz recurso mnemotecnico. Las variadas muestras de lengua que forman parte del libro merecen una mencion aparte: anuncios, correos electronicos, blogs, fragmentos de textos literarios y periodisticos, etc., que demuestran la utilidad y frecuencia de estas expresiones no solo en registros coloquiales sino tambien en otros mas cultos. [...] Constituye un complemento ideal para las clases y un recurso muy util para los profesores, no solo por la escasez de este tipo de materiales didacticos sobre expresiones idiomaticas, sino sobre todo, por la calidad de los materiales didacticos (muestras de lengua, ilustraciones, actividades, explicaciones, etc.) y por su estructura flexible y clara, que permite una facil seleccion de contenidos." - Rocio Diaz Bravo, Porta Linguarum 22.2, 2014,

"Spanish Idioms in Practice [...] es un excelente recurso que facilita la comprension y memorizacion de gran numero de expresiones idiomaticas y proverbios mas usados, y ademas, contribuye de manera excepcional a que el hablante no nativo perfeccione el manejo del lenguaje idiomatico en su discurso de la forma mas creativa, logica y natural posible. [...] Se trata de un volumen sumamente util, que sin duda alguna proporciona al hablante no nativo los medios necesarios para apreciar, e insertar con exito en sus primeros escarceos con la lengua meta, el uso de expresiones cuyo significado posee un componente cultural o un sentido figurado que no resulta facil de asimilar por medio de la simple memorizacion. A un precio asequible para cualquier bolsillo, Spanish Idioms in Practice es el complemento ideal para realzar los cursos de nivel intermedio o avanzado con tecnicas innovadoras en la ensenanza de expresiones idiomaticas, asi como un entretenido manual para todos aquellos que deseen agregar cierta perspicacia de ingenio a su espanol. Se trata de un libro de consulta amena, cuya lectura satisfara igualmente con creces a los curiosos del idioma." -Pilar Asensio-Manrique, Hispania 97.4, 2014,

"The volume offers a rich selection of idiomatic expressions used across the Spanish-speaking world, illustrated with a plethora of examples and meaningful activities. [...] Generous and clever use of illustrations throughout the book greatly helps make the idioms more memorable too, aiding the process of acquisition. [...] Highly creative, engaging and well-designed, [Spanish Idioms in Practice] is a very welcome addition to the available materials on teaching idiomatic expressions and a must-have book for Spanish language learners who wish to enhance their expressive capacity and cultural knowledge". - Angeles Carreres & Maria Noriega-Sanchez, Bulletin of Spanish Studies 92.6, 2015,
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About Javier Munoz-Basols

Javier Munoz-Basols is Senior Instructor in Spanish at the University of Oxford.

Yolanda Perez Sinusia teaches at the Official School of Languages and at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid.

Marianne David is Adjunct Professor of Spanish at Pace University in New York.
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