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Teaching Expressions of Good Luck in Spanish

written by: Kena Sosa • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 9/11/2012

Luck is a concept found in every culture around the world. Places where Spanish is spoken are no exception, however, how locals and native speakers express good luck in Spanish can vary greatly from what one is used to.

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    How to Say "Good Luck" in Spanish

    Saying "good luck" in Spanish is quite simple. Luck is translated as "suerte." The word suerte, can be combined with the word buena to become buena suerte (good luck), or mala to become mala suerte (bad luck). To wish someone 'good luck' you can just tell them buena suerte, which can also be shortened in informal situations to suerte. I cannot think of an occasion where you would wish bad luck on someone, but in case you needed to say it, you would make sure to use the entire phrase, mala suerte. If you know someone who is very lucky or just had something very lucky happen to them, you might say "Que suertudo!" (What good luck!)

    Another word used often in Spanish when relating to good luck would be afortunado. Una persona afortunada is a very fortunate person. By adding the prefix, des-, you can say the same about a person who typically has bad luck. El es una persona desafortunada. The same word can be turned into an adverb by adding -mente to the end. Fortunately would be pronounced afortunadamente, and unfortunately as desafortunadamente.

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    Luck and Symbolism

    Within Spanish-speaking cultures, there are a few well-known sayings related to luck. One would be "no hay mal que por bien no venga," meaning that even bad luck comes by way of good luck or in simpler terms "good luck." Obviously sayings dealing with luck are unique to a culture and not always self-explanatory to second language learners.

    Another saying or dicho that deals with luck would be "el nuevo bebe siempre trae la torta bajo el brazo." This phrase is very confusing if taken literally (A new baby always carries a torta under its arm). Not only does it not seem to have anything to do with luck at all, but just doesn't make any sense. However, the phrase itself actually means "A new baby always brings something new (luck)."

    This idiom reveals how important a new arrival is in the family. Equally as concerning, is the idea of the evil eye in Mexican culture. This theory states that if your new baby gets sick it is because someone has put an unlucky curse on it because they are jealous of your family's happiness.

    In many Spanish-speaking countries, people remain very superstitious in general. There are many good luck charms, several of which deal with the Catholic religion, where having a cross in the house or a necklace with a cross or the image of the Virgin Mary to keep them safe. A less culture-specific good luck charm, the rabbit's foot, is still a popular good luck charm in Spanish-speaking countries.

    rabbit's foot (pata de conejo)

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    Activities Dealing With Luck

    Students can practice dealing with the concept of luck in Spanish by adding the words afortunadamente, or desafortunadamente to the beginning of sentences provided by the teacher. Students must read the sentence and then decide which word would be most appropriate to use to start it off.

    This can be turned into a game by having students start off with a sentence with afortunadamente. The following student must continue telling the story from the first sentence with a sentence beginning with desafortunadamente. They will have to alternate sentences with these two words until a student finds a way to end the story.

    Students can also create skits in which one character must wish another character buena suerte to perform for the class. The audience must cheer them on by shouting "Que buena suerte!"

    Finally, I wish you "buena suerte" in mastering good luck in Spanish.