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How to Say “Good Luck” in Spanish

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Whether you’re visiting Spain as a tourist, studying in Colombia, or in Mexico on business, you’ll likely come across a situation to wish someone good luck in Spanish.

I mean, ever found yourself crossing fingers, knocking on wood, or even wearing a particular color for good luck? You’re not alone. Around the world, people have their unique ways of wishing luck upon others, and Spanish-speaking cultures are rich in such traditions.

With 21 countries counting Spanish as an official language, each with its own unique history, customs, and idiomatic expressions, wishing good luck has some colorful variations.

Understanding how to convey good luck in Spanish lets us not only communicate effectively but also connect deeply with the cultural aspects of the language. So, whether you’re a language learner, a traveler, or just curious (and I’m all of the above!), stay with me as I explain how to say “good luck” in Spanish!

By the way, if you need help pronouncing any of these phrases, check out our guide on the Spanish alphabet!

Buena Suerte and Variants: Standard Phrases for Wishing Good Luck in Spanish

In Spanish, there’s a phrase that translates directly into “good luck.” That’s Buena suerte, with buena meaning “good,” and suerte signifying “luck” or “fortune.”

This is the most straightforward translation and a universal phrase. You can use it in almost any situation where you want to wish someone good fortune, making it the perfect starting point for anyone learning Spanish.

For example, you might say, Buena suerte en tu entrevista (“Good luck on your interview”) or Te deseo toda la buena suerte del mundo (“I wish you all the good luck in the world”). If your friend is moving to a new city, you can say, ¡Buena suerte en tu nueva ciudad! (“Good luck in your new city!”)

Another common variant is ¡Mucha suerte! (Literally, “A lot of luck!”)

You can use this when you want to amplify your good wishes. For example, if a colleague is about to present a major project, you can tell them, ¡Mucha suerte con tu presentación! (“Good luck with your presentation!”)

Colloquially, you can also simply wish someone ¡Suerte! (“Luck!”) So if a friend is looking for a new apartment, you can tell them ¡Suerte en la búsqueda de tu apartamento! (“Good luck in your apartment search!”)

Other Useful Phrases for Good Luck in Spanish

Of course, there’s so much more Spanish than just buena suerte! The list of well-wishing can go on and on, but here are some of the most common ways to wish someone good luck.

Universal Expressions

  • ¡Éxito! – “Success!” Common in both formal and informal contexts, especially before exams or presentations.
  • ¡Que te vaya bien! – “Hope everything goes well!” Versatile and widely used, perfect for casual farewells or before minor events.

Encouragements and Best Wishes

  • Te deseo lo mejor. – “I wish you the best.”
  • Mis mejores deseos. – “My best wishes.” Ideal for more formal occasions like weddings or graduations.
  • Que tengas éxito. – “May you have success.”
  • ¡Ánimo! – “Cheer up/Go for it!”
  • ¡Mucho ánimo! – “Lots of courage!” Encouraging someone to stay strong.
  • ¡Arriba esos ánimos! – “Cheer up!” Literally, it means “Raise those spirits!”
  • ¡Dale! – “Go on!” A cheer of encouragement, widely used in Latin America, and especially at sporting events.
  • ¡Que la fuerza te acompañe! – “May the force be with you!” A playful, Star Wars-inspired way to wish luck, understood and appreciated universally.
  • ¡Tú puedes! – “You can do it!”
  • ¡Tú puedes con todo! – “You can handle everything!”
  • Estoy aquí para ti. – “I’m here for you.”
  • Creo en ti. – “I believe in you.”
  • Siempre estaré a tu lado. – “I will always be by your side.”
  • Eres más fuerte de lo que crees. – “You’re stronger than you think.”
  • Éste es tu momento para brillar. – “This is your moment to shine.”
  • No estás solo(a). – “You’re not alone.”
  • Sigue adelante. – “Keep going forward.”

For Specific Occasions

  • ¡Triunfos! – “Triumphs!” Often said to athletes or artists before a performance or competition.
  • ¡Que vivan los novios! – “Long live the bride and groom!” A common shout of joy and good luck for the newlyweds at weddings.
  • A por ello! – “Go for it!” A motivational nudge, perfect before taking on a challenge.
  • Que este sea el inicio de muchos éxitos más. – “May this be the start of many more successes.” A common congratulatory wish at graduations.
  • Un nuevo comienzo lleno de felicidad. – “A new beginning full of happiness.” A common phrase when someone moves into a new house.
  • Éxito en tu nueva aventura. – “Success in your new adventure.” Often said when someone starts a new job.
  • Suerte en tu camino. – “Luck on your path.” A metaphorical way of wishing someone well on their life journey.

Spiritual Blessings

  • Que Dios te bendiga. – “May God bless you.” This reflects the deep religious roots in many Spanish-speaking cultures.
  • Bendiciones. – “Blessings.” A spiritual way to wish someone well, suitable for both casual and serious contexts.
  • ¡Ojalá! – Hopefully! With Arabic origins, “ojalá” is a testament to Spain’s historical linguistic influences, coming from the phrase “God willing” in Arabic. (Although most modern Spanish-speakers don’t use it with any Islamic sentiment.)

Spanish Gender and Good Luck

Now a little note here: In some traditional or formal contexts, expressions of sentiment might be received differently based on gender. For example, men might be more encouraged with phrases that emphasize strength or bravery: ¡Dale duro! (“Go hard!”), implying resilience or toughness.

On the other hand, women might be offered wishes that highlight hope or grace: ¡Que tengas un día lleno de luz! (“May you have a day full of light!”).

It’s important to note, however, that contemporary Spanish-speaking societies are increasingly embracing gender-neutral and inclusive language, focusing more on the individual rather than adhering strictly to traditional gender norms.

Slang and Local Phrases for Good Luck in Spanish-speaking Regions

With such diversity in the Spanish speaking world, you may find linguistic and cultural differences related to luck in different countries. Here are just a few examples of country-specific lingo.

Wishing Good Luck in Spain

Wishing luck in Spain? Well, you might wish some interesting things, like:

¡Mucha mierda! – “Lots of crap!”

Originating from theatre jargon, this phrase is Spain’s equivalent of “break a leg!” It’s used to wish someone success, especially before performances or events where traditional good luck wishes are considered bad luck.

So before a theatrical debut, saying ¡Mucha mierda esta noche! (“Lots of crap tonight!”) is both traditional and encouraging.

¡Que te cunda! – “Hope it’s productive for you!”

This phrase is hard to translate directly but essentially means “Make the most of it!” It’s a versatile well-wishing used to encourage efficiency and success when starting a new action or project, whether in studying, working, or even enjoying leisure activities.

Wishing Good Luck in Mexico

Here are two of the most iconic Mexican phrases about luck:

Hacer changuitos – “Fingers crossed”

Literally meaning “making little monkeys,” this phrase refers to crossing one’s fingers for good luck. It’s commonly used when hoping for a favorable outcome.
So for example, when waiting for crucial exam results, you can say, Estoy haciendo changuitos para que pasemos. (“I’m crossing my fingers so that we pass.”)

¡Échale ganas! – “Give it your all!”

Also in Mexico, you’ll often hear, this phrase, which translates to “Put your effort into it!”

Wishing Good Luck in Puerto Rico

Of course, even smaller territories like Puerto Rico have some special phrases in Spanish!

¡Dale duro! – “Hit it hard!”

This is a rallying cry for effort and determination. It directly translates to “Hit it hard!” but is colloquially understood as “Go for it with all your might!” It’s especially popular in competitive scenarios or when tackling challenges.

So for example, if a friend is preparing for a marathon, you can tell them, ¡Dale duro en el maratón! (“Hit it hard in the marathon!”)

Insights on When and How to Use Slang Respectfully:

Now, a few notes on the slang here…

  • Context Matters: Slang expressions often carry casual undertones. Reserve them for less formal situations or when you’re familiar enough with the culture or individuals involved.
  • Regional Sensitivities: Understand that an expression popular in one country might not be well-known or could even be inappropriate in another. Always gauge the cultural context and the company you’re in.
  • Intent is Key: Use slang phrases with a genuine intent of support and camaraderie. Your tone and the situation should convey your good will clearly to avoid any potential misunderstandings.
  • Be Open to Learning: Missteps can happen when navigating slang in a new language. If corrected or advised on usage, see it as a learning opportunity and a step toward deeper cultural understanding.

Spanish Idioms and Sayings About Luck

Spanish is a language rich with idiomatic expressions that reflect the culture’s perspectives on luck, fate, and effort. Here are some of the most interesting ones:

La suerte de la fea, la guapa la desea. – “The luck of the ugly is desired by the beautiful.” This saying plays on the idea that outward appearances are not always indicative of one’s fortune or happiness. It suggests that sometimes those who may not be considered conventionally attractive enjoy a form of luck or happiness that those deemed beautiful wish they had.

A quien madruga, Dios le ayuda. – “God helps those who rise early.” This essentially is “The early bird gets the worm.” Emphasizing the virtues of diligence and early starts, this idiom suggests that taking initiative and getting an early start on things invites divine favor or, more broadly, good luck.

Más vale ser cabeza de ratón que cola de león. – “Better to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion.” This proverb advises that it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond, emphasizing the importance of being important in one’s own right, even in a smaller context. It highlights the notion of appreciating one’s own value and the benefits that can come from being a significant part of something smaller, rather than an insignificant part of something larger.

No hay mal que por bien no venga. – “There is no evil that doesn’t come for a good.” This is the Spanish equivalent of “Every cloud has a silver lining.” It’s an optimistic view that even in bad circumstances, one can find some form of good luck or a positive aspect. A poignant reminder that good things can come from bad situations, often used to provide comfort.

Quien se fue a Sevilla, perdió su silla. – “He who went to Seville, lost his seat.” Similar to “you snooze, you lose,” this idiom warns that leaving your place or neglecting your responsibilities could result in someone else taking over your position or enjoying the benefits that were meant for you.

A la tercera va la vencida. – “The third time’s the charm.” This saying suggests that if initial attempts don’t lead to success, persistence will eventually pay off. It’s a phrase of encouragement, often used to motivate someone who’s faced setbacks but is gearing up to try again.

Más vale tarde que nunca. – “Better late than never.” Like in English, this phrase is often used to encourage someone who might feel they’ve missed their chance at something, whether it be pursuing an education, embarking on a new career path, or mending relationships. It reinforces the belief that luck and opportunity are not solely bound by time.

Quien no arriesga, no gana. – “Who doesn’t risk, doesn’t win.” This phrase emphasizes the essential role of taking calculated risks in achieving success. It’s a rallying cry for bravery and stepping out of one’s comfort zone, often used to encourage action in the face of uncertainty.

Cultural Superstitions and Bringing Good Luck in Spanish-speaking Cultures

So now that we know how to talk about luck, how can we get some of it? Don’t worry – there are plenty of superstitions in the Spanish-speaking world to help you become more lucky!

Wearing Colored Underwear on New Year’s Eve

In Spain and many parts of Latin America, it’s believed that donning red underwear as you ring in the New Year brings love and passion into your life for the months to come. This tradition is especially popular among young adults looking for romance. So if you’re celebrating New Year’s in Spain, don’t be surprised to see red undergarments being sold everywhere from fancy boutiques to street vendors, all in the name of love!

On the other hand, in parts of Latin America, wearing yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve is considered a beacon of good luck, prosperity, and happiness for the year ahead!

Eating 12 Grapes at Midnight on New Year’s

As the clock strikes midnight, people eat 12 grapes, one for each chime, representing hope for happiness in each month of the New Year. This tradition started in Spain and has spread to many other Spanish-speaking countries. It’s a fun, albeit challenging, tradition that families and friends partake in together. You can say, Que cada uva te traiga suerte. – “May each grape bring you luck.”

The Protective Cactus in Latin America

In parts of Latin America, keeping a cactus near the window or doors of homes is believed to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. This prickly guard symbolizes resilience and protection, ensuring that only good vibes enter. It’s a testament to the belief that the environment we create influences our fortunes.

You can tell someone, Que este cactus te proteja de todo mal. – “May this cactus protect you from all harm.”

Bad Luck Beliefs and How to Avoid Them in the Spanish-speaking World

Okay, so we know about what brings good luck in Hispanic cultures. Now what about bad luck? Well unfortunately, there’s a lot of things to watch out for!

Putting Your Wallet or Purse on the Floor

Placing your purse or wallet on the floor is a big no-no in many Spanish-speaking countries, as it’s said to lead to financial loss or bad luck with money. So if you’re out dining, kindly remind your friend ¡No pongas tu bolsa en el suelo! (“Don’t put your purse on the floor!”) to save them from financial woes.

Sweeping Feet with a Broom

In many Spanish-speaking countries, it’s believed that if someone sweeps your feet with a broom while cleaning, you’ll never get married.

Another fascinating belief comes from Mexico, where sweeping from your door towards the inside of the house is thought to bring in good luck, while doing the opposite might sweep it away.

So if you’re sweeping near others, be mindful of where you direct your broom. A simple ¡Cuidado con los pies! (“Watch your feet!”) can prevent any accidental sweeps.

Tuesday the 13th (Martes Trece)

Unlike in Anglo cultures where Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, in Spanish-speaking countries, Tuesday the 13th is the day to beware.

If you want to engage with the local culture, refrain from making significant decisions or starting new ventures on this day. If someone is apprehensive about martes trece, simply acknowledging their concern with understanding can be reassuring.

Spilling Salt

Spilling salt is believed to invite bad luck or even attract negative energy in much of the Hispanic world. When at the dining table, passing the salt hand to hand is also considered bad luck. Instead, place it on the table for the other person to pick up.

So be cautious with salt shakers. If you do spill salt, throwing a pinch over your left shoulder is a common ritual to counteract the bad luck.

The Mal de Ojo or the “Evil Eye”

A widespread superstition across Spanish-speaking countries is the belief in mal de ojo or the evil eye. It’s thought that envy or intense admiration can unintentionally bring harm or bad luck to someone, especially children. Protective amulets or gestures are often used to shield against this unintended misfortune.

If you want to wish someone good luck with this in mind, you can say, Que el mal de ojo te esquive. – “May the evil eye avoid you.”

Ready to Wish Anyone Luck in Spanish?

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned Spanish speaker, I hope you learned something new about how to wish good luck in Spanish! Besides the vocabulary and phrases, here are a few final reminders:

  • Context is Key: The same expression can hold different weights or meanings depending on the situation. For example, saying ¡Éxito! to someone about to take a test carries a different tone than using it casually before a night out. Pay attention to how native speakers use these expressions.
  • Regional Varieties: Remember that Spanish is a richly diverse language, with variations from one country to another. An expression that’s common in Mexico may not be used in the same way, or at all, in Spain or Argentina. When in doubt, ask a native speaker or do a bit of research.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Be mindful of the cultural background and beliefs of the person you’re speaking to. Expressions involving luck or fate can touch on deeply held beliefs or superstitions.
  • Practice in Real Life: Take the leap and use these phrases in your daily interactions. Whether you’re wishing someone “¡Buena suerte!” on their new venture or advising caution on “martes trece,” each occasion is a chance to practice and perfect your use of the Spanish language.

¡Buena suerte y éxito en tu viaje lingüístico y cultural! (“Good luck and success on your linguistic and cultural journey!”)

author headshot

Kelsey Lechner

Translator, teacher, interpreter

Kelsey is a writer, translator, and educator. She is an avid lover of dance, dogs, and tea. LinkedIn | Contently

Speaks: English, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Swahili, Bengali

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