You must therefore be interested in the Spanish-speaking culture and all its richness and diversity. You now have a great opportunity to travel the world and discover some of the most beautiful quotes in Spanish.
As an American, humility compels us to recognize that the dictionary of Iberian proverbs very much compares to those found in English.
Let’s look at the Spanish quotes of famous people who have demonstrated Hispanic culture through their paintings, their books, and their lives. Here you will be inspired by Spanish figures, but also Mexican, Chilean, or Cuban thinkers.
As Cervantes said, in one of his beautiful quotes:
“Proverbs are short maxims drawn from a long experience.”
A lot of proverbs can be seen on graffitied walls.
Philosophical quotes, quotes on loneliness, romantic quotes, quotes from films…We have selected beautiful sentences and quotes for you to meditate on before your Spanish classes. The most beautiful love quotes can also be found on Iberian soil.
These best of quotes are inevitably arbitrary and not exhaustive–as I was limited to 10 entries–yet I do feel I list the best quotes from famous Spanish authors, in their bilingual version…
You will see, Spanish speakers definitely have equivalents to our famed Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde!
For quotes and proverbs about life–read ahead! Overcoming ignorance with proverbs and sayings is already a step in the right direction.
« La pluma es la lengua del alma. »
Which means: “The quill is the tongue of the soul.”
This quote, taken from The Ingenious Nobleman Mister Quixote of La Mancha, makes complete sens when written by Cervantes’ quill.
We do not call Spanish the language of Cervantes for nothing. Miguel de Cervantes is the most famous Spanish writer abroad, but also the most widely read writer in Spain.
His most famous work was published in 1605: Don Quixote was an instant success, a must-read of Spanish literature.
Suffice to say that Cervantes is for Spain what William Shakespeare is to England. It is generally said that Cervantes is the inventor of the modern novel in Europe: a first that would have long lasting consequences as the centuries went on!
There are many mise en abyme, quotations, proverbs and adages in Don Quixote, mainly through the character of Sancho Panza who, mounted on his donkey, embodies popular “wisdom.”
But if you’re looking for love proverbs, you won’t find them here…
If you are learning Spanish, take a look at Cervantes’s personal history and you will discover a very rich life.
A major figure of the Spanish Golden Age, Cervantes was a novelist, a poet, and playwright, but his story does not stop there.
There are many beautiful quotations on life in Don Quixote!
As a soldier, he led a life full of adventure. He fought in the battle of Lepanto (1572) against the Turks, where an injury cost him the use of his left hand.
He was captured by the Barbarians and spent five years in slavery in Algiers before being bought by charitable compatriots and returning to Spain.
From that moment he wrote his major works such as the famous Don Quixote, recognized as the first modern novel. This work is obviously part of the history of the Spanish language.
This is a classic very often studied in Spanish classes. It’s amazing!
“Love is like…” ; “Life is…”; “Happiness is…”; “Silence is…” or “Friendship is…”: Let’s leave easy ready-to-think quotes to others as Dali was not your common quotes guy.
« El que quiere interesar a los demás tiene que provocarlos. »
“He who wants to interest others must provoke them”: a quote which reveals the personality and life of the artist!
Born in 1904 in Figueras, this painter, sculptor, engraver, scriptwriter, and writer is one of the emblematic figures of surrealism.
He is also one of the most famous painters of the 20th century. He studied at the Beaux-Arts in Madrid, at the San Fernando Institute, a school from which he was kicked out of. He then arrived in Paris where he met artists who would change his life such as Picasso, André Breton, and Paul Éluard, whose wife, Gala, would become the companion and muse of Dali. He joins the nascent group of Surrealists.
Salvador Dali was said to have a brilliant mind!
A provocative, irreverent and eccentric character, Dali marked the artistic landscape with his genius and his work. Among his most famous paintings are perhaps The Persistence of Memory, Galatea to the Spheres, The Metamorphosis of Narcissus, Sleep …
Dali’s egoism and humor were his stand-out qualities.
The monarchist, anarchist, and Roman Apostolic Catholic left us with several memorable audiovisual moments, such as when he met Denise Glaser in 1971 for a Discorama program on French television.
By the way, have a look at the main differences between Spanish and Catalan…
In our Picasso almanac, the quote of the day will be the following:
« Todos los niños nacen artistas. El problema es cómo seguir siendo artistas al crecer. »
“Every child is born an artist. The problem lies in how to remain an artist as you grow up.”
We could add a second sentence to this quote which reflects the artist’s thoughts:
“When I was a child, I drew like Raphaël. It took an entire lifetime to learn how to draw like a child.”
After mentioning Dali, impossible to ignore Pablo Picasso, founder of Cubism. Everyone knows at least one work of Picasso’s: Guernica. This painting, which symbolizes the horror of war, is one of the most famous works in the world.
This work is there to remind us that life is short and draw our attention to what counts forever. We must live off of this ever-lasting love!
« La peinture n’est pas faite pour décorer les appartements, c’est un instrument de guerre, offensif et défensif, contre l’ennemi », citation de Picasso.
“Painting is not there to decorate apartments; it’s an instrument of war, offensive and defensive, against the enemy” is another famous quote by Picasso.
It was painted following the bombing of the city during the Spanish Civil War. The work was exhibited in 1937 as part of the International Exhibition in Paris. To speak just of this painting is reductive for Picasso, a prolific artist who has painted more than 1,800 during his lifetime, including countless portraits. Not to mention sculptures and other genres… So immerse yourself in his work!
There is an anecdote which says that a German visitor contemplating Guernica said to Picasso, who was present: “Did you do this?” Upon which the painter replied: “No, you did!”
« Una es más auténtica, mientras más se parece a lo que soñó de sí misma. »
“A woman is at her most authentic when she resembles the image she has dreamt of herself.”
This incisive formula is reminiscent of a certain Anglo-Saxon humor, worthy of Winston Churchill.
An emblematic filmmaker of the new Spanish wave, a decadent artist, Pedro Almodóvar is an international director whose films always bring a dose of surprise.
Anti-conformism, exaggeration, transgression, sophistication…Almodóvar’s films are unparalleled and often put women in the limelight. Tacones lejanos, Todo sobre mi madre, Mujeres al borde of an ataque of nervios, Hable con ella, Volver… are part of the unforgettable films–which you should watch in VO of course!
Feel free to watch the director’s films, which will help with your Spanish accent…in addition to your Spanish classes.
« Soy el desesperado, la palabra sin ecos, el que lo perdió todo, y el que todo lo tuvo. »
“I’m the desperate one, the word without echo, the one who lost everything, the one who had it all too.”
Here old age and indifference come up against a background of heartbreak and the need to turn the page. There is no optimism here, whatever…
A writer and great Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda wrote these verses from the collection Twenty Poems of Love and a Desperate Song. Published in 1924 when the young author was only 19 years old, it is one of his major works.
Neruda was also a consul and politician very committed to the extreme left. As a member of the World Peace Council, in 1953 he received the Stalin Prize for Peace (sic).
He and Matilde Urrutia, his third wife (yes, yes!), met in 1953. She was the greatest love of his life. She inspired his most beautiful poems, including the 100 sonnets in the book 100 Love Sonnets.
Whether they reflect on sadness or happiness, a message of love and tenderness, there are as many beautiful Neruda texts as there are inspirational quotes. To consume without moderation if you are looking for beautiful words of love, according to Paulo Coehlo.
Self-esteem has taken over the world, so the proverb of the day is there to shrivel our ego a little.
Every man wants to change the world, to do something, but too often for self-love, which gives terrifying results of vanity.
There is a very popular quote which fights against this notion:
“Learning to doubt is learning to think,” by Octavio Paz.
This famous quote comes from Octavio Paz–poet, essayist, diplomat, and Nobel Prize Literature Winner–who was born to a Mexican father and an Andalusian mother. The artist’s work is imbued with multiple influences. At the crossroads of the world, his poems mix styles and inspirations.
He was in the Iberian Peninsula at the time of the Spanish Civil War, and he took the side of the Republicans in the name of “anti-fascism.” He only broke with communism after the end of the German-Soviet pact, so that at the end of his life he took defense of Solzhenitsyn and criticized the Marxist governments of Cuba and Nicaragua.
Octavio Paz was inspired by his origins, his discoveries, but also on the history of the world and its various literary currents. With a life spent between Mexico, the United States, Spain, France, India, etc., his work reflected his openness to the world.
He also wrote:
« Aprender a sonreír es aprender a ser libre. »
Which means: “Learning to smile is learning to be free.”
Have a look at this article if you would like to learn how to speak Spanish or Portuguese…
« Memoria selectiva para recordar lo bueno, prudencia lógica para no arruinar el presente, y optimismo desafiante para encarar el futuro. »
“A selective memory to remember only the good, logical prudence not to ruin the present, and an exacerbated optimism to face the future.”
Isabel Allende is a world-famous Chilean writer. She has become a reference in Latin American literature. As she says herself: “In my books, I wanted to tell the tragedy of this tortured continent and the hopes of women and men who fight for a better world.”
But hell itself is paved with good intentions!
This famous writer’s origins are far from insignificant: she is the daughter of prominent Chilean leftist politician Salvador Allende, who evolved in a particularly stormy and violent context.
Tragedies in her family (the suicide of her father at the time of General Pinochet’s coup) taught her on life…
Only Latinos with warm blood are capable of such a beautiful presence of mind when they are on the point of succumbing to the tragedy of life.
« ¿ Se pueden inventar verbos ? Quiero decirte uno : Yo te cielo, así mis alas se extienden enormes para amarte sin medida. »
“Is it possible to invent verbs? I wanted to tell you one: I sky you, that’s how far my enormous wings reach in order to love you boundlessly.”
Frida Kahlo’s love for Diego Rivera, whom she married at the age of 22, had no limits, except those of adultery …
Mexican painter born in 1907, Frida Kahlo expresses herself strongly in her works. She was a real activist for the emancipation of women, which began to be popular around that time, and her life was not short on personal tragedies.
Afflicted with child poliomyelitis, it was following a serious bus accident that immobilized her several months that she began to paint at 18 years. In bed, she used a mirror to make self-portraits. Throughout her life, she would have more problems with her body.
She drew her incredible mental strength from her physical pain, which is reflected in all her work, where there is something to nourish our compassion.
She is one of the best known female painters of all time.
There is no doubt that such an experience would have had an unimaginable impact on any love affair and on her perception of the theme of love and friendship, despite her life together with another artist, Diego Rivera.
“Life is beautiful” is one of those popular sentences Frida Kahlo never uttered, as her human life was marked by despair, sickness, and depression. Her state of mind was marked by the loss of children during pregnancy and her lack of faith in material things.
She chose the impossible love of the Revolution, and her stays in the United States and Paris only exacerbated her sadness, which became worse than the absence of remorse in Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
« Se necesitan dos años para aprender a hablar y sesenta para aprender a callar. »
“It takes two years to learn how to talk and seventy to learn how to hush up.”
Ernest Hemingway is an American, it’s true, but he still has his place in the top 10 Spanish quotes. This winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, a man who greatly influenced the novel in the twentieth century, was very closely linked to Spain for some time.
As a journalist, he covered the Spanish Civil War alongside Republicans. What he experienced and saw during these years in Spain is at the origin of one of his most famous novels: For Whom the Bell Tolls.
We also owe him this quote on hope:
“A man can be destroyed, but not vanquished.”
He always kept a great love for Spanish culture, and especially for the bull races (or corridas) which were then quite different from those of today (no comparison for the horses of the picadors).
« Seamos realistas y hagamos lo imposible. »
“Let’s be realistic and accomplish the impossible.”
This well-known quote from the Cuban revolutionary has gone around the world.
A well-known legend, Ernesto Rafael Che Guevara remains today one of the symbols for the struggle for freedom around the world. A communist figure of the revolution, he sought to extend the Revolution to Bolivia, but also Africa.
He is on the T-shirts of many young people. A very common emblem like the “Mahatma” Gandhi (apostle of non-violence), Einstein, Mandela, the Tibetan Dalai Lama, and Martin Luther King . He’s now a prominent commercial icon!
It would be difficult to find Guevara quotes that resemble love messages, because he was not–contrary to what one might believe–a tender guy…For example, he liked to attend summary executions, comfortably in a chair, with a cigar in his mouth!
Che owes much of his legendary status to his relatively early death (39 years old), unlike the co-revolutionaries who survived him (Castro, Stalin …).
We could go on a long time with Spanish quotes, popular proverbs, sayings, and beautiful texts.
Feel free to look up other proverbs from around the world, learn a quote a day to immerse yourself in the world of your favorite Spanish-speaking artists.
Learning a new language means immersing yourself in a new world, a new culture.
Here is a list of the Spanish proverbs followed by their French translations.
And with quotes, the advantage is that a small Spanish sentence is enough to make you think about the meaning of life, whatever your concerns are at the moment:
So do not hesitate to draw inspiration from beautiful proverbs and quotes in Spanish!
After all these details, we will have forgotten something or another.
Let’s look back on our most beautiful Spanish love phrases and the most beautiful proverbs from across the Pyrenees: