Spanish Lessons


A mano

Let's continue learning idiomatic expressions in Spanish that use body parts. This lesson focuses on the word mano (hand).
The expressions echar una mano (to throw a hand) or dar una mano (to give a hand) mean "to help." Frequently, people use this expression with negation in the interrogative form: ¿no me echas una mano? or ¿no me das una mano? are common ways to ask for help in Spanish:


¿No me das una manita con Pablo?
Won't you give me a little hand with Pablo?
Caption 44, Muñeca Brava - 30 Revelaciones - Part 4

See? You can even throw in a diminutive like manita (little hand)! Native Spanish speakers use diminutives a lot, so you can use this truquito (little trick) to make your Spanish sound more natural.
Now, dar una mano (to give a hand, to help) is different from dar la mano (literally, "to give the hand"), which means "to shake hands" or "to hold hands." Usually the verb dar (to give) is used with a pronoun in these expressions. So you can say: le doy la mano (I shake his/her/your hand), nos damos la mano (we shake hands, we shake each other's hands). In other cases the pronoun can be added to the verb dar as a suffix, for example: ¡dame la mano! (shake my hand!), or:


En ocasiones más formales también podemos darnos la mano.
For more formal occasions, we can also shake each other's hands.
Caption 12, Raquel - Presentaciones - Part 1

Slightly different is tomar la mano de alguien (to take somebody's hand):


Bachué se despidió llorando y tomó la mano de su esposo.
Bachué said goodbye crying and took her husband's hand.
Caption 49, América precolombina - El mito de Bachué

If you add the preposition de (by) you get the expression de la mano (by the hand, holdings hands). Tomar de la mano is "to hold by the hand," estar de la mano is "to be holding hands," cruzar la calle de la mano de tu mamá means "to cross the street holding your mom's hand," and caminar de la mano con tu novia means "to walk with your girlfriend holding hands". Here's one more example:


Un helado, un paseo, tomados de la mano
An ice cream, a stroll, holding hands
Caption 4, Alberto Jiménez - Causalidad - Part 2

On the other hand, estar a mano (literally, “to be at hand") means "to be even:"

Estaríamos a mano. ¿Eh?
We would be even. Huh?
Caption 30, Muñeca Brava - 2 Venganza - Part 6


The expression hecho a mano means "made by hand." And the phrase a mano can either mean "by hand":

Los que se pueden coger con la mano desde abajo, se cogen a mano.
The ones that can be picked by hand from below are picked by hand.
Caption 88, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

or "at hand," which can also be spelled a la mano:


 Ponte lo que tengas a [la] mano.
Wear whatever you have at hand.

To do something mano a mano (hand in hand) means to do something together:

Los investigadores trabajan con los pescadores mano a mano.
The researchers work with the fishermen hand in hand.

In Mexico, Dominican Republic, and other Spanish speaking countries, people use mano to shorten hermano/a (brother, sister), just like “bro” and “sis” in English. For example: No, mano, así no se hace (No, bro, that's not how you do it), Oye, mana, vámonos a casa (Hey, sis, let's go home).

And that's all for this lesson! Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to


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