Well, that’s certainly a strange title this week, verdad? (right?). Actually, it’s a frase idiomática (idiomatic phrase) in Spanish – tirar la casa por la ventana.

This means that you are spending a lot of money on something, similar to splash out in English. For example, He decidido tirar la casa por la ventana y reformar todo mi piso (I’ve decided to splash out and refurbish my whole apartment). There are lots of similar phrases to do with the house in Spanish, but first let’s look at a bit of basic house vocabulary.

Spanish English
La casa The house
La puerta The door
La entrada The entrance
El salón The living room
La cocina The kitchen
El aseo The toilet
La escalera The stairs
El pasillo The corridor/hall
El baño The bathroom
La habitación The bedroom
El ático The attic
El sótano The basement
El jardín The garden
La terraza The terrace/balcony
El balcón The balcony (normally a smaller one)
El techo The ceiling
El tejado The roof
La pared The wall

Frases hechas que tienen que ver con la casa

Right, now you can say the different parts of the house, let’s learn some more frases hechas (idioms/set phrases)

  • Empezar la casa por el tejado – To start the house from the roof

This particular phrase is all about logic, or rather the lack of it. Obviously, you shouldn’t start building a house from the roof down as you need to have the walls in first! So, we use this refrán (idiom) when we refer to something being done in an illogical order. Por ejemplo, Juan ha empezado la casa por el tejado – ¡ha comprado un anillo de compromiso sin tener una novia! (What Juan’s done doesn’t make any sense – he’s bought an engagement ring before he’s even got a girlfriend!). Very random!

  • Se le cae la casa encima – The house is falling in on him/her

Doesn’t that sound a bit dramatic? We don’t mean that someone’s house is actually collapsing on top of them, rather that someone is feeling trapped in a particular situation or with a problem that they can’t sort out. Por ejemplo, (For instance) Paula dice que se le cae encima la casa desde que le echaron de su trabajo porque no puede pagar las facturas (Paula feels trapped since she was fired from her job as she can’t pay her bills). 

  • La ropa sucia se lava en casa – Dirty laundry should be washed at home

If you’re a native English speaker, you might recognise the translation of this one. We have the expression “don’t air your dirty laundry in public” which refers to the same thing in that personal/family/relationship problems should be dealt with in private and not in a public way. We reckon a lot of famosos (celebrities) could do with applying this idea! An example sentence using this idiom could be – Mi amigo me dijo que no debiera discutir con mi pareja en el supermercado, que la ropa sucia se lava en casa (My friend said I shouldn’t argue with my partner in the supermarket, that those things should be kept private).

  • Ser una verdad como una casa – To be a truth as big as a house

Wow, that must be something really true if it’s the size of a house! And yes, that’s what this frase hecha (idiom/set phrase) is referring to – when something that is said is most definitely a certain fact. An equivalent in English might be something like “nothing could be truer”. The word casa is often swapped out for temple (temple) too. Here’s an example sentence: Javier dijo una verdad como una casa a María – ¡que era una mentirosa! (Javier said to María that she was a liar, and nothing could be truer!)

  • Como Pedro por su casa – Like Pedro in his own home

Who is Pedro? Who knows! Well actually, there is a theory that this refers to Pedro I of Aragon who took back Huesca from the Moors in 1094. But we definitely do know that this phrase means when someone makes themselves at home somewhere as if it were their own house, often referring to this in a slightly negative way. For instance, Laura entró en casa de sus suegros por primera vez y sacó una bebida del frigo como Pedro por su casa (Laura went to her in-laws’ home for the first time and just made herself at home and took a drink from the fridge). A bit weird thing to do, right?

  • Ser como/Parecer la casa de Tócame Roque

This particular phrase refers to when somewhere is full of noise, fights, loud shouting, and quite disorganised. In English you could say something like utter chaos. This refrán (idiom) is said to come from the chaotic Madrid of the siglo XVIII (18th century) when a very crowded casa (house) on the central Calle Barquillo in the city became quite well-known because of the dispute between the two brothers who inherited it – Juan and Roque. Their arguments over the property, which was supposedly home to 72 (yes, 72!) families, became legendary and were written about by various authors of the time including Benito Pérez Galdos. Evidently some of the information was probably embellished, but the phrase stuck and is still in use today. Curious! Here’s an example of how to use it: Fui a casa de mi hermano ayer y pareció la casa de Tócame Roque – ¡había niños corriendo por todos lados, cosas tiradas por el suelo y nadie sabía qué estaba pasando! (I went to my brother’s house yesterday and it was utter chaos – the kids were running around all over, things were just thrown everywhere and nobody seemed to know what was going on!)

There you have some useful, casa related phrases to get you started. When you’re learning Spanish, you’ll inevitably come across lots of such refranes (idioms) which you’ll hear people using and wonder what they mean. It’s always a good idea to keep a list of these as you encounter them and then start to incorporate them into your own speaking when you feel ready. Here at Hablamos, we will teach you lots of useful language like this and in your Spanish classes we give you many opportunities to put your newly learned vocabulary into practice.