One of the best ways to practice a language is to read it. It’s even better when you read idiomatic phrases that don’t always translate directly into English. That helps you learn more than just vocabulary--it teaches you to unlock the meaning behind the words, too. It’s definitely a skill you’ll definitely need to ace your AP Spanish Language exam or your AP Spanish Literature exam! (It’s also pretty great practice for the SAT Spanish Subject Test, too.)
Today, we’re going to introduce you to 9 of the best inspirational Spanish quotes about life. Reading through these will help you practice your advanced reading and comprehension skills...and it might just give you some food for thought, too. For each quote, we’re going to give you:
- The Spanish quote
- The English translation of the quote
- A short discussion of why the quote is inspirational
¿Listos? ¡Bien, empecemos!
Spanish Quote 1: A Quote About Courage
Nunca serás capaz de cruzar el océano hasta que pierdas de vista la costa.
In English, it translates like this: “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
This quote is a great way to start learning some Spanish quotes about life...especially since you’ll need to have some courage while you’re studying. (It’s not easy, after all.)
The quotation above also eases you into the process because you can translate it literally, which means that when you translate the sentence, it means exactly what it says!
We love this quote because it’s a good reminder that sometimes you have to take risks to achieve your dreams. Even though it’s tempting to stick with what you’ve always known, success often means you have to sail over the horizon!
Spanish Quote 2: A Quote About Money
Just like in English, there are lots of great Spanish quotes about life--and money--that could have ended up on our list. But our favorite is this one:
A los tontos no les dura el dinero.
The literal translation of this line is “Money does not last for fools.” It’s the Spanish equivalent of the English saying, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” (Your parents may have told you this a time or two. Not that we’re speaking from experience or anything.)
The truth of life is that money matters. This Spanish quote definitely reminds us that making money is only half the battle: being wise about our financial decisions is important, too.
Spanish Quote 3: A Quote About Choosing Your Words
La lengua no tiene hueso, pero corta lo más grueso.
This is an example of a Spanish quote where there’s a big difference between the literal translation and its meaning. Literally, this sentence translates to “The tongue doesn't have a bone, but it cuts the thickest thing.” What does that even mean?!
But if you think about it, even idioms in English don’t make much sense. After all, if you’re not familiar with English, you’d be really confused if someone told you that you were “the pot calling the kettle black” or that you shouldn’t “throw stones at glass houses.”
So in the case of this Spanish quote about life, we have to look past the literal phrasing to the meaning underneath it.
Let’s break it down starting with the first part of the sentence. When you say “the tongue doesn’t have a bone,” it means that the tongue isn’t as strong as your arm or leg. You can’t physically hurt someone with your tongue! And yet, the second half of the sentence says that it’s somehow still able to cut through “the thickest thing.” In other words, our tongue--which Merriam-Webster explains can also mean “language”--has the power to do significant damage to other people.
In other words, this quote is the equivalent of the English saying, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Spanish Quote 4: A Quote About Willpower
No existe gran talento sin gran voluntad.
When you’re studying, you need lots of willpower to stay focused. That’s why we love this inspirational quote—in Spanish or in English! This quote translates to “There is no great talent without great will.”
Sometimes we think that people are just born with talent, and if we aren’t, then there’s no way we can achieve our dreams. But this Spanish quote teaches us that’s not true. Willpower, and the drive and focus that comes with it, can help us develop our talents.
Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian journalist and author, determined that for some people, it can take 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill.That translates to 417 days of practice! Even the most talented person would need a lot of willpower to get through that amount of work. Consequently, this quotation explains that doing great things in life requires as much hard work as it does talent.
Spanish Quote 5: A Quote About Going For It
Lots of idioms rhyme to help it stick in our memories. (Two good English examples are “fake it ‘til you make it” and “you snooze, you lose.”) Science has shown that rhymes help our brains remember information.
Given that, it makes sense that inspirational quotes in Spanish and in English use rhyming to make their messages to help us remember them. Here’s one of our favorite rhyming inspirational quotes:
Después de los años mil, torna el agua a su carril.
Here, “mil” is pronounced with a long e sound. That means it sounds more like “meel” in Spanish. The same is true for “carril,” which would be pronounced “carreel.” So as you can see, the two clauses of the sentences rhyme perfectly, so people can remember it better.
The literal translation of this quote is, “After one thousand years, returns the water to its track.” But more accurately, this quote translates like this: “In a hundred years we will be dead anyway.” That’s pretty morbid!
But what this quote really means is that people’s memories are short, so you shouldn’t worry about what people think. Don’t let others’ judgements or a fear of embarrassment keep you from pursuing your passions!
Spanish Quote 6: A Quote About Patience
For many people, patience is a tricky thing. That’s why one of our favorite Spanish quotes has to do with the value of being patient. Here it is:
Con el tiempo todo se consigue.
This quote literally translates to, “In time, everything is acquired.” But more accurately, this quotation tells us that patience is key to getting what you want in life.
Patience comes in many forms. For instance, when you’re studying Spanish vocabulary for your AP or SAT subject exam, it can be tempting to be impatient and move quickly through your flashcards. But that means that you might not have committed the definitions to memory, which can make a huge difference when you’re trying to ace the test.
Being patient, however, helps you study more thoroughly. That can help you earn top test scores, which will get you into your dream school, which is a huge step on the path to achieving your dreams. In other words, patience pays off in the end!
Spanish Quote 7: A Quote About Endurance
This quotation is a little different. When you’re looking for Frida Kahlo quotes, Spanish versions are definitely the most accurate and authentic! Our favorite inspirational Frida Kahlo quote is this one:
“Lo que no me mata, me alimenta.”
In English, this means “What doesn’t kill me, nourishes me.” This is a play on Nietzche’s famous saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Frida Kahlo—one of the most famous Mexican artists of all time—would definitely know a lot about surviving tragedy.
Despite her talent, Kahlo’s life was a difficult one: she was disabled by polio and, later, by a terrible traffic accident that also left her infertile. As a result, she struggled with depression as well. But she channeled that into her art, which she said “completed her life.”
That’s why this is one of the best inspirational quotes in Spanish. It shows us how to turn our suffering into something good, which is one of the most important life lessons we can learn.
Spanish Quote 8: A Quote About Perseverance
Sin prisas, pero sin pausas.
This quote literally translates to “without hurry, but without stopping.” In English, we might translate this to another common aphorism: “slow and steady wins the race.”
This quotation goes really well with Spanish Quote 6, which is about patience. In this case, we’re reminded that moving forward--even if it’s slow--is the key to progress.
In fact, slow progress can often lead to success! Consider the story of Angus Macfadyen. In 2007, he was in an accident that left his leg in a cast. But that didn’t stop him from running the London Marathon on crutches! It took him 7 hours and 13 minutes to reach the finish line...but he still finished the race.
The best quotes about life help us better understand the hurdles in our way. In this case, overcoming obstacles might take time, but we can still succeed if we persevere.
Spanish Quote 9: A Quote About Love
Our last Spanish quote about life tackles one of life’s best parts. After all, Spanish is a romance language...so it’s not surprising that some of its best quotes have to deal with love!
Quien bien ama, tarde se olvida.
This is another quote where the literal translation is a little confusing. Word for word, this quote means, “He who loves well, forgets the afternoon.” But the idiomatic translation is actually, “True love never grows old.”
This quotation makes us think of one of our favorite tear-jerking scenes of any movie: the opening few minutes of Pixar’s Up.
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In this scene, viewers watch a couple in love--Carl and Ellie--as they celebrate life’s highs and lows. Unfortunately, Ellie passes away before she can achieve her lifelong dream of visiting Paradise Falls. But Carl won’t let her dream die, and he keeps his promise to Ellie by taking her scrapbook—and her house!—to Paradise Falls in one last, grand adventure.
Carl may be old, but his love for Ellie never fades...which is maybe the best life lesson of all. (Who’s chopping onions in here?!)
If you’re studying Spanish, then you know conjugating verbs is half the battle. Irregular verbs can be tricky, though, since they don’t follow the rules. For those, it’s all about memorization! That’s why we’ve put together complete conjugation charts for the most common irregular verbs in Spanish. Why not start your studying off with our conjugation list for ser?
And while you’re at it, you should take a look at our vocabulary lists, too. This one’s all about the parts of the body you need to know before you take an SAT or AP Spanish exam.
We know you’ve heard of the Spanish Language and Spanish Literature exams, but what about the SAT Spanish Subject Test? Learn everything you need to know about the SAT Spanish Subject Test here. Additionally, this article gives you an insider’s opinion about how hard the exam really is--so you might add it to your reading list, too!Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.