How to Say Fingers in Spanish

When it comes to learning any language, there’s a large variety of aspects that are important regardless of whatever language you’re studying. Whether you’re trying to study French, German, Russian or Norwegian, you have to first and foremost perfect your grammar and your syntax in order to be able to communicate properly. And, of course, either after that, or preferably during the same time as you’re learning all of this stuff, you need to enlarge your vocabulary as much as possible since knowing all of the rules and principles of the language doesn’t add up to much if you do not possess a large enough vocabulary that would allow you to talk about a broad spectrum of subjects without grasping for words.


But one of the things that makes Spanish distinguishable from a plethora of other languages, even among its very own Romanic/Latin family, is the fact that simply knowing all of the rules and having a considerable vocabulary is not enough if your goal is to become so fluent in Spanish that your speech would be indistinguishable from a native Spaniard or somebody who was born and raised in one of the Latin American countries (outside of Brazil, of course, since we all know they speak Portuguese over there and a couple of smaller nations like Suriname or French Guyana). Sure, you may have Spanish figured out to a tee, but while you are communicating, what are you doing with your hands? Are your upper limbs still gesticulating as if they belong to somebody who primarily speaks English? Or, and that may be even worse, are your hands just hanging there stuck in the same motionless position? There’s a good chance you’re familiar with a well-known stereotype of emotional and expressive Spaniards engaging in vivid and energetic dialogues at the absolute top volume, while enhancing their every word and expression with a movement of the hands. Well, this is one of those cases where there’s no smoke without a fire meaning that this stereotype is fairly accurate. It is far from uncommon to see groups of people gesticulating fiercely while having a conversation. When native Spanish speakers communicate, they employ their mouths, sure, but also their shoulders, arms, hands, and eyes just as much, if not more. And although a part of these gestures could be boiled down to some of the more general hand-waving used for emphasis in the majority of languages out there, you will be able to find a multitude of Spanish hand signals with very specific meanings that are somewhat or entirely unique to that language.

Naturally, in order to start, we first would have to learn how do you say fingers in Spanish and what is the word for hand. A hand in this lovely language is called “la mano” while fingers in Spanish are spelt as “los dedos”. It goes without saying, of course, that “los dedos” is a Spanish word for fingers in general and each one of them has a unique name, just as you would expect it from any other language. The first finger we would like to start with is called “el pulgar”, commonly known in English as the thumb. The so-called thumbs-up is a universal sign of approval for a job well done and Spanish is no exception when it comes to this gesture. But there at least a couple of gestures involving the thumb that are unique to this language. You can tap the thumb on your forehead a few times if you wish to signal that you’re fed up with somebody or his problems (¡Estoy harto!). You can also put your thumb and your el indice (index finger) together without as if you’re grasping for an object without the ends of the fingers actually touching each other and twist them around once or twice. That kind of gesture is used if you wish to ask the person whether he understands what it is you’re talking about (¿Lo pillas?). You may additionally be interested in curling the fingers and thumb of one hand together in a point and gesture bringing it to your mouth if you wish to imply that you would like to get something to eat (Vamos a comer). There’s also an option to open and close your el meñique (pinky), el anular (ring finger), el medio (middle finger) and the other two fingers with your thumb repeatedly if you want to signal that the place you occupy is packed full of people (Te estoy viendo). You may gently slap a part of your face with an open palm if you’d like the person next to you to know that you consider him to be a shameless and indecent person (un/una caradura). Estoy a dos velas means “I am broke” in Spanish and you can gesture it by making the peace sign with your two fingers (el medio and el indice) pointing at your eyeballs, and then to wave them up and down.

Well, that’s about it for now. With some of these basic gestures in your arsenal, you will be able to communicate like a proper Spaniard and will not unnecessarily stand out in any native crowd.