¿Te has quedado en blanco alguna vez? (Has your mind ever gone blank?)

I know mine has, on multiple occasions and almost to the point that I worry I might have some memory problems! As you can see, this phrase in Spanish includes the word blanco (white) and there’re lots and lots of refranes (idioms) and frases hechas (expressions) about colours in Spanish. Before we get into those, let’s take a look at how we say all the colores (colours) in Spanish.

English Spanish
Red Rojo
Orange Naranja
Yellow Amarillo
Green Verde
Blue Azul
Purple Morado
Black Negro
White Blanco
Grey Gris
Brown Marrón
Pink Rosa

However, as you’ve probably already learned if you’re studying Spanish, we also need to make sure that the colours agree with the gender of the word they describe. Here’s a quick reminder of the different forms for the colours above.

English Spanish Masculine/Feminine Spanish Plural Masculine/Feminine
Red Rojo/Roja Rojos/Rojas
Orange Naranja Naranjas
Yellow Amarillo/Amarilla Amarillos/Amarillas
Green Verde Verdes
Blue Azul Azules
Purple Morado/Morada Morados/Moradas
Black Negro/Negra Negros/Negras
White Blanco/Blanca Blancos/Blancas
Grey Gris Grises
Brown Marrón Marrones
Pink Rosa Rosas

As you can see, some colours do not have a separate masculine and feminine form. The reason for this is due to the spelling rules in Spanish, which you can learn more about in our blog on adjectives on this site. Even if you say the wrong form when speaking Spanish, people will generally understand you so don’t worry and try to just learn from your mistakes. Everyone gets it wrong sometimes when learning Spanish – it’s part of the process of language learning!

Now that we have an idea of what the colours are in Spanish, let’s take a look at some refranes (idioms) and frases hechas (expressions). Obviously, most of the significados (meanings) have little to do with the colour itself, but that’s like in any language! Here at Hablamos we love idioms, so we want to give you some great examples to be able to use when you’re out and about practising Spanish.

Ponerse rojo como un tomate

You can probably work this first one out – it means “to go bright red” just like a tomato! If you’ve ever felt embarrassed or very nervous you’ve probably turned this colour!

Me puse rojo como un tomate en la cita ya que estaba muy nervioso – I was so nervous on the date that I turned bright red

La media naranja

Here’s a romantic one! Whereas in English we would say “my other/better half” to refer to your partner, in Spanish we use mi media naranja. Personally, I think it sounds much more poetic in Spanish, don’t you?

Julia es mi media naranja y nos conocimos en un sitio web – Julia is my other/better half and we met online

La prensa amarilla

A bit more literal this time, as now we are talking about the press and journalism. This little phrase means, in the US at least, “the yellow press”, but for a lot of you that doesn’t mean anything either! Another way of saying it in English is “tabloid journalism”, as in sensationalist media that is normally about celebrities or which exaggerate the truth just to sell copies. Do you ever read la prensa amarilla?

En la prensa amarilla siempre hay artículos sobre las relaciones amorosas de los famosos, que no me interesan nada – In the yellow press/the tabloids, they always talk about celebrities’ love lives, which don’t interest me at all

Poner verde a alguien

Now we’re getting a little bit mean with this one, as if you do this it’s that you’re talking badly about someone behind their back. Come on, you know you’ve done it at some point even though we all know we shouldn’t!

A Pablo le pusieron verde cuando salió de la reunión – They all talked about Pablo behind his back when he left the meeting

El príncipe azul

Another more romantic phrase – or possibly an unrealistic ideal depending on how you look at it. If you talk about someone as your príncipe azul then you’re calling them your “prince charming” – the person you want to be with as they’re your perfect partner.

Lucía considera que Alex es su príncipe azul porque es guapo, inteligente y muy romántico – Lucia thinks of Alex as her prince charming as he’s handsome, clever and very romantic

Ponerse morado

I always do this at Christmas – it’s so easy to ponerse morado when you’re surrounded by all sorts of tasty snacks and treats! Can you guess what it means yet? That’s right, it’s similar to “to stuff yourself” with food or drink (or both!). 

Ponerse morado en casa de mis padres en navidad es muy fácil porque mi madre compra una cantidad ingente de comida y bebida – It’s so easy to stuff yourself at my parents’ house at Christmas as my mum buys a ridiculous amount of food and drink

Ponerse negro

As you’ve spotted by now, there are quite a few of these expressions with the verb poner (to put)! This one means “to get very angry” – sometimes I guess it’s inevitable!

Me pongo negro con mis hermanos cuando rompen mis cosas – I get extremely angry with my siblings when they break my things

Quedarse en blanco

You’ve seen this one already – do you remember what it means? That’s right – it’s the same as “my mind’s gone blank”. Hopefully this doesn’t happen too often!

Me quedé en blanco cuando tuve que contestar a la pregunta en la entrevista – My mind went blank when I had to answer the question in the interview

Comerse un marrón

Well, things get a bit ugly with this one. A marrón in this phrase means “a disagreeable situation”. So the whole phrase means “to get stuck with/be lumbered with an unpleasant situation”. You don’t want to have to deal with things at times, but unfortunately you don’t always have a choice!

No me voy a comer el marrón de decir al jefe que no vamos a terminar a tiempo. ¡Hazlo tú! – I’m not getting lumbered with telling the boss we won’t finish on time. You do it!

Verlo todo de color rosa

In a lot of languages there’s a saying pretty similar to this one. It means “to see things through rose-tinted glasses”, that’s to say to look at things very positively even when it’s not the case. Maybe it isn’t such a bad way to view life?

Miriam lo ve todo de color rosa y no quiere ver que su situación podría ser mejor – Miriam looks at everything through rose-tinted glasses and doesn’t see that she could be in a better situation

And there you have a whole arcoiris (rainbow) of expressions you can use when speaking Spanish with your friends! As you learn Spanish you’ll come across a huge number of similar phrases which you can start incorporating into your own speech. Why not try using one next time in your Spanish class and impress your teacher?

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