Spanish gestures

The Spanish gesture for 'packed'

The Spanish, and others from countries around the Mediterranean, are known to make a fair bit of use of gestures when they’re talking. If you’re learning Spanish it would be useful to become familiar with some of these gestures and their significance.

If you want to indicate that a place is packed with people (está lleno de gente) you hold one or both hand in front of you with the fingers pointing upwards and open and close them quickly.

If you’re broke – estoy a dos velas (down to two candles) you can show this by moving your index and middle fingers down your face on either side of your nose from just below your eyes.

To show that you think someone is being very lazy – qué huevon/huevona, you hold both hands in front of you as if holding something large and heavy in each one and move them up and down.

If someone is being cheeky, you can show what you think of them by tapping your cheek with your hand. The spoken equivalent of this gesture is cara dura (lit. “hard face).

Make sure you try out these gestures with a Spanish friend to make sure you’ve got them right before using them with strangers. It also helps if you look out for them when watching Spanish people speaking to one another to get an idea how and when they use. Their use may not be appropriate in all situations.