Posted by: janecronin | July 9, 2011

Favourite words in Spanish

It’s nice to learn some fun words occasionally, and I rather enjoy teaching students the expression “ni fu ni fa”.  You probably won’t find it in a dictionary, but it means something like “neither here nor there”.    When I teach it, I tell students that it’ll make Spanish people smile, just because they don’t expect to hear it from a foreigner. 

I have a student who speaks only basic Spanish but is a tremendous extrovert and likes trying out everything he learns.  I saw him the other day for the first time in a few months and he made a point of thanking me for teaching him “ni fu ni fa”.  He said that every time he uses it people roll around laughing.   Apparently the other day a waiter asked him if he’d enjoyed his meal.  He smiled and said “Ni fu ni fa”, at which the waiter nearly dropped his plates on the floor.  So perhaps I should add … use it with caution!


  1. I like it when you are teaching us this kind of expressions the spaniards are using.

  2. Excellent – Your tips and comments keep me interested in learning the Spanish Language.

  3. Thanks! Feel free to add any of your own as well.

  4. Yes – one does have to be careful. Many are the pitfalls!

    The husband of a colleague of mine spoke excellent French but he said that he learned “My hovercraft is full of eels” in twenty five other languages because he could go into virtually any bar in the world and stop the conversation with this phrase.

  5. John, your post raises so many questions in my mind …

  6. ¿Como?

  7. Oh, I’m probably being far too literal. Why would you want to stop the conversation in bars in 25 countries? Would would you do next? That sort of thing!!

    These conversations always take me back to the Monty Python sketch about the Hungarian Phrasebook. Has anyone seen it?

    • You are being too literal! I doubt he could have afforded visiting all those countries. He only claimed to be able to do so – I think, with’ his tongue in his cheek’. Is there a Spanish equivalent of that?

  8. “Tomando el pelo” comes to mind – pulling someone’s hair rather than their leg. Another phrase which I think the combination of hovercrafts and eels calls for is “el sentido del humor inglés”.

    Surprise, surprise, I’ve just looked up that Monty Python sketch and guess what – it contains the line: “My hovercraft is full of eels” Here’s the link.

  9. THAT’S where he got it from – I’ll kill ‘im!!

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