"Quien espera, desespera."

Translation:A watched pot never boils.

December 18, 2013



What's the point in teaching us these really interesting idioms, if they're boiled down into the most boring English half-equivalents, which are generally terrible translations?

January 4, 2014


The point is to teach us the idioms, which I think they have done very well, however much I might complain about the details of the English translations.

What's the alternative? There isn't usually a one-to-one match between idioms, so the choices seem to be a) to only tell us the idioms that have an exact match in English, b) to find a somewhat equivalent English idiom, or c) to write a paragraph explaining what the words of the idiom mean and then what the idiom itself means. They have chosen b, which makes sense to me. We can use google and these discussions to fill in the rest.

January 5, 2014


Alternative: Teach us the idiom, how it is used, what it means, how it came about. We're being given English idioms which half the time don't translate into the Spanish ones. One German idiom I saw can actually be offensive if used in the same way as its "english counterpart".

January 5, 2014


Duolingo is not translating Spanish idioms directly into English. If they did that, the idioms section would be a total mess, worse than it is. Duolingo is teaching you a Spanish idiom, and then giving you the closest English counterpart.

For example: "En boca cerrada no entran moscas."

The literal English translation would be, "Flies do not enter a closed mouth." The essential meaning of this idiom is that if you talk too much, there will be consequences; if you keep your mouth shut, you will save yourself from much annoyance. We do not really have an English idiom that puts this point across the same way. The closest one that I can think of is "Silence is golden" (the one Duolingo uses). That's probably why Duolingo teaches this to you as the translation: they aren't actually teaching you how to translate the idiom into English, rather, they're teaching you what the idiom means--in your language.

Hope this helps a little.

October 15, 2014


This translation is totally wrong. Quien espera, desespera, means: He who waits, despairs. The English equivalent would be: Hope deferred makes the heart sick. UN OLLA VIGILADA JAMAS HIERVE, is a watched pot never boils! It is not a mis-translation, it's a simple mistake! Duolingo have given the wrong answer because this answer is correct for Question 155! Come on Duolingo, get it right!!!!

July 4, 2015


yes, i thought so, too! "He who hesitates is lost", as we say in English. Looks like an error, Duolingo!

September 24, 2015


Thank you Ruth. Usually duolibgo allows the user to click on each Spanish word for new phrases, and the user can thereby figure out the word for word translation. But when it is an audio exercise that is not an option. All in all i love duolingo. So what if there is an error here and there. I can't believe such an awesome tool is free. So thank you Duolingo for the great platform and the Spanish course, and thank you Ruth for informing us of the error! All keep up the great work!

December 19, 2015


Or, a more used idiom, "He who hesitates is lost".

November 21, 2016


YES he who hesitates is lost. Who waits, despairs. The Duolingo explanation is not just non-optimal, it's crap.

June 19, 2017


I agree that this isn't a correct translation. Not many people would be able to think that much outside of the box to think that "Quien espera, despera" is "A watched pot never boils." Don't think we know this, Duolingo!

February 3, 2017


It is neither mis-translation nor a simple mistake... It is making it how it would be in English. It's not wrong; in fact, both the Spanish and English used here essentially mean the same thing, the wording is just completely different. The essence though is the same.

May 19, 2016


"The English equivalent would be "hope deferred makes the heart sick". No, that's nowhere near the same expression and also is an English "idiom" that is not now and has never been in common usage.

HE WHO HESITATES IS LOST. (He/one) who hesitates, loses. Who waits, despairs. SAME expression. Nearly direct translation. And an expression actually common in English.

December 26, 2017


Thank you Ruth985027. Very few seem to know or care about the actual meaning of the Spanish idiom.

There are many vehemently insisting, for example, that it means "he who hesitates is lost" or more prosaically "you snooze you lose." I'm not sure where they get that idea. Perhaps, it's because of the word "waits."

December 29, 2017


Wow, your example just reminded me of my aunt when I was little and she would scold us kids (well, I thought she was scolding us) everytime we kind of talked too much, and she would often say, "Boca abierta, entra mosca" (at least that was how it sounded like to me at that time lol. Perhaps she actually said, "En boca abierta ...") We're not even native Spanish speakers but my aunt was fluent and used the language regularly everyday especially when talking with friends, so we kids ended up ignoring her anyway since we didn't even understand what she was talking about lol. Memories...

November 26, 2014


Lol. "Mouth open, flies enter" I like that better than, "Silence is golden"

August 25, 2015


You also learned the importance of context.

January 23, 2015


Actually, the English equivalent to Boca abierta ... would be "Open mouth, insert foot." Maybe. i.e. don't put your foot in your mouth.

July 18, 2016


I would like to see both the literal translation AND the English expression it most closely matches. Your example is a perfect reason why. I would learn a couple words, like flies, and the expression. The funny thing is, in English, we can say, "Shut your mouth, you're catching flies", which means "your mouth is open from being shocked, surprised, etc. that your mouth is open and you lookmlike a fool."

April 23, 2015


Thank you! Great information!!! I am ready to turn off e-mail notifications for this thread because it is beginning to frustrate me. An idiom will NOT translate word for word. That is the very definition of an idiom - it is figurative language. Thus DL has come up with what I think is a fun way to learn these.

I do agree that a little help from the Owl before might make all the difference. Nevertheless, I really like this unit. I appreciate your post and hope others take the time to read it and understand. We may all have differing opinions on the best way to teach/learn idioms, but the first step is understanding what an idiom is and that it can't be translated literally. Many of these comments, though not all, illustrate that this isn't understood by most. So. . . just want to say I appreciate your post!

October 15, 2014


You're welcome!

October 15, 2014


Personally, I would much rather this section have three parts for every idiom: 1. The literal translation, 2. The meaning of the idiom, 3. An English equivalent

February 7, 2018


A better English translation would be "a closed mouth gathers no foot", referencing the English idiom of " putting your foot in your mouth" when you say something you regret.

January 18, 2015


"A closed mouth gathers no foot" needs to be a saying in English now. Let's make it happen.

September 20, 2015



January 3, 2017


Loose lips sink ships

August 15, 2015


That's specifically about not sharing secrets and broad consequences for other people, not necessarily the speaker.

November 11, 2015


I am Italian. I use english everyday and now I want to learn Spanish too. This lesson is a good way to learn english idioms too <3

February 20, 2015


Agreed. Idioms are tricky ones, especially if neither language is your native language. I regretted to unlock the idioms section and then understanding nothing, until I found these conversations. Here I can gain some insights of both side of the idioms (Spanish and English as well) and place them in my own mind, in my own (Hungarian) kind of thinking.

But the fact that these conversations are so long, shows that it's not so simple to fully explain an idiom in a few sentences. So it would be better to show some respect for the Duolingo team, admit the hardness of the task to explain an idiom in a short hint, and be thankful for these conversations where we can learn the idioms just the way we learn them in our native language: with live conversation.

(Edit: second part of my comment goes to general, not to you personally, LoScozzi, of course. :))

May 9, 2015


Uhh, yes we do. "A closed mouth gathers no flies" It's almost exactly the same as tha Spanish counterpart.

October 28, 2015


Yes, that sounds right.

September 26, 2016


I've heard my aunt say "flies can't fly into a closed mouth" when she wanted the kids to be quiet. Maybe she learned spanish when she was younger and it stuck with her. Apparently I'm the only one of my friends who's heard it that way in English. Means the same as, if you keep your mouth shut you'll saveuch annoyance. Perhaps we should use the fly idiom more, it sounds funnier.

March 26, 2015


In English "flies don't enter a closed mouth" means the same, "if you keep your mouth closed you save annoyance", or as "a closed mouth gathers no feet". The direct translation helps newearners b/c we are trying to translate by the words we already know. If I see a phrase with the word flies, I am tramslating a sentence with the word flies. If I put " a closed mouth gathers no feet" i would be marked wrong b/c flies and feet are not the same word.

May 5, 2015


However, I think the Idioms lesson is geared towards those farther along in the language with a few extra lingots who are getting bored and would like to learn another aspect of the language. Ideally, these users have already mastered translating literally, or at least have the hang of it, and they need to develop another type of learning based on meaning rather than vocabulary.

May 6, 2015


Maybe a linguist or even a foklorist could chime in here but it seems to me that your last example would be even more complex as it is a meshing of two idioms. "A closed mouth gathers no flies" and ""open mouth, insert foot" or "you've/I've put your/my foot in your/my mouth" (that looks awkward. Just variations, "You've put your foot in your mouth" or "I've put my foot in my mouth"). Mixed it becomes, "A closed mouth gathers no foot". My mom used to jokingly mix metaphors all the time (e.g. "Up a tree without a paddle". English euphemisms for being in a difficult spot: "You're up a tree" or you're "up a creek without a paddle". To be up a tree WITH a paddle would be even more precarious a situation so mixing the metaphors had a layer of fun and whimsy that delighted me but frustrated my Hungarian roommate who was trying to understand the new to her nuances that happened when my mom would visit us.)

December 26, 2017


I think giving us a rough approximation of the idiom makes you think about the meaning of the words and their relationship to meaning, which is the most important part of an idiom. That might be a method to help the learning process.

October 3, 2015


" When you are out in deep water it is wise to keep your mouth closed" -says my beach towel. But I keep forgetting that (in both meanings)...

November 13, 2016


I've heard that idiom used in english

May 27, 2015


Another English idiom, which is close, but not exact is "Lose lips sink ships." But then we are using lips instead of mouth.

January 23, 2015


The english translation is, "If you're full of it, don't open your mouth" ... or more crudely, "When you're up to your ears in s***, don't open your mouth."

September 26, 2016


I totally agree with your explanation of what Duolingo is teaching here with these idioms. Also, when you are able to use a spanish idiom in the correct context with a spanish speaker it usually is well received and brings on laughter. One in particular is: El que madruga Dios le ayuda. The closest translation in English is: The early bird gets the worm. A Spanish friend laughed and said sometimes: El que madruga Dios le arruga. This translates to: The early bird gets wrinkles! Have fun with the idioms! :)

December 3, 2016


My grandmother: "A closed mouth gathers no flies." She was from northern Ontario, Canada.

December 16, 2016


So...is this idiom is about bieng careful ?

March 16, 2015


Not the "quien espera, desespera" idiom. bdickson123 was talking about another idiom, "En boca cerrada no entran mosca".

This one is about how horrible waiting is.

March 16, 2015


In my experience it is still much, much easier to learn the literal phrase which has an obvious meaning than to learn a long otherwise arbitrary phrase of words I haven't learned. Duo lingo should definitely give both. I have to go look up the actual translation of every phrase to get any meaning out of it.

June 25, 2015


What about «lose lips sink ships» ? That is a better english counterpart, sí no?

July 24, 2015


We have lots of sayings in English that are similar (e.g., "The closed mouth gathers no foot"), but I'd strongly prefer just to read the explanations than to have mis-translations. For idioms, I'd rather have a long explanation than a bad translation. There is no reason that the section for idioms needs to follow the format of the rest of the website.

November 11, 2015


"Open mouth insert foot" may be even closer.

November 1, 2016


Any idea of how this sounds in Italian or French, just to help myself to figure out the exact meaning trying translating from another language.

December 27, 2016


I love "En boca cerrada no entran moscas" and I think it makes perfect sense literally.

March 11, 2017


keep your mouth closed, you'll swallow no flies

July 9, 2017


I am native to the US, and when I was a young boy I was often told, "Close your mouth, you're catching flies!" I grew up in New York. Hope that helps.

September 27, 2017


Native (U.S.) English speaker here. I am sure my grandparents (stolid mid-westerners) used this saying with us: "A closed mouth gathers no flies".

December 26, 2017


"A closed mouth catches no flies" Is regularly used in the English language to convey the same meaning.

February 15, 2018


But how would that work in duolingo with its question and answer format?

January 5, 2014


Have the Owl Pitch in, like it does in the first few lessons. Consider dedicating a page not to another Q&A, but to further explaining what you just learned, so that you can learn it.

They already need to do something like this for different forms of words. sie isst vs. Sie essen vs. sie essen.

January 6, 2014


Wow, I've never seen the owl pitch in on either my tablet or smart phone -- that would really be helpful -- I might be more inclined to dress him up some. Is he available only on a pc?

May 4, 2014


I forgot about how the owl does that at the beginning. That's a good idea.

January 6, 2014


I like the idea, great next step at continual improvement, but lets not forget its a free app! You want further detailed descriptions about use and context, utilize google or take a spanish class.

September 3, 2014


Having the owl help you out is a great idea. You should contact Duolingo and try to get it moving in that direction. I agree wholeheartedly, the idioms lessons are practically useless if the translations aren't right and the English counterparts are boring, like you said, Gnorian.

October 15, 2014


yes! That would help! I didn't get that when I was taking German.

February 18, 2017


In Hebrew, the idiom for "Leave me alone" translates as "Get off my baldness!"

January 11, 2016


I agree strongly --

May 4, 2014


I would translate it to You snooze you loose

February 10, 2015


I like that! But be careful; it is You snooze you lose, you'll get marked wrong for spelling...

June 19, 2017


You booze; you snooze.

December 23, 2017


It's great to translate an idiomatic expression with another idiomatic expression, if such a saying exists in the target language. The Spanish reference works I've seen on this saying explain it as expressing the pain of waiting. That is NOT the meaning of "A watched pot (or kettle)...." The nearest saying we have would be the biblical proverb "Hope deferred makes the heart sick." "He who waits exasperates," which has been proposed on this site, is unidiomatic and not faithful to the meaning of the Spanish expression as it is actually used.

September 9, 2014


I wrote "he who hesitates is lost" which is an english proverb that I thought would have been the closest translation. Was marked as incorrect.

December 9, 2014


I think you've hit the nail on the head (speaking of idioms--hahaha). You have to accept that a free app won't be perfect, but I think that, yes, they have taught us the idioms very well.

By the way, nice streak you got going there. A whole leap year! Keep it up, BarbaraMorris.

October 15, 2014


I would prefer a literal translation followed by a similar English equivalent or one sentence idea of the meaning. "the splinter is from the stick, (like father, like son.)

January 30, 2016


Sure, that would be great in general. But it wouldn't work very well with Duolingo. We'd go crazy trying to get our answers accepted by the program.

Here's a great site that has what you want. http://www.languagerealm.com/spanish/spanishidioms.php. For "De tal palo tal astilla" it has "like father, like son (lit.: of such a broom, such a splinter)"

January 30, 2016


@BarbaraMorris - Very, very late to the party, but I hope that you still get notifications, as I wanted to thank you for the link. It's absolutely wonderful, as it has a lot more than Duo. I'm gonna have a lot of fun trying to learn all (or most) of them. Thank you

June 9, 2017


"What's the alternative? " I am shocked 20 people gave Lingots to this BS answer. The alternative is to simply post BOTH the translation of the Spanish idiom AND the English equivalent. Quien espera, despera. Who waits, despairs. He who hesitates is lost. it's NOT rocket science, making excuses is NOT answering OR solving. Minus 20 Lingots.

June 19, 2017


Your idea doesn't work with the question-and-answer mechanism of Duolingo. Where would they "post" this information for each idiom?

June 19, 2017


What? The correct answer appears below the question after you answer the question. "My idea" is simply to add a few words to the text. That could not be easier. So instead of providing the translation "A watched pot never boils" it would say "A watched pot never boils. lit: who waits despairs." Also of course the second problem is the DuoLingo translation is terrible, this expression is not equivalent to "a watched pot never boils", so it should read: "He who hesitates is lost. Lit: who waits despairs." That would pretty clearly both work and be easy to do, unless I'm missing something?

June 19, 2017


Apparently one may become quite anxious while waiting for the pot to boil.

December 23, 2017


"There isn't usually a one-to-one translation between idioms..." And yet, IN THIS CASE, there is. He who hesitates is lost. It uses almost the same structure and conveys exactly the same meaning and is a perfect translation. Who waits, despairs. Who hesitates, loses. Perfect. It is the same expression in English, with the same meaning. I can't see how there would be any disagreement or discussion on that, it's perfect.

The one provided by DuoLingo is terrible, these expressions are TOTALLY DIFFERENT from 'a watched pot never boils,' that's not a bad translation or a near translation it's wrong. It's flat wrong, and a perfect one exists, I don't know why you all find this so complicated.

December 26, 2017


Except your proffered proverb is not correctly conveying the meaning of the Spanish idiom. The Spanish saying means it is painful to have to wait for something you greatly desire. The proverb "he who hesitates is lost" means if you don't act you will miss out on something. Those are two completely different things.

I get your frustration and I agree it would be more than a little helpful to get a brief explanation as to the meaning of the Spanish idiom. Unfortunately, that's beyond the scope of Duo as it is currently designed. They have these discussion threads to fill the gap, but as someone elsewhere noted, it's often akin to the blind leading the blind. One redress would be to do a little research on one's own. If you look up "quién espera desespera", you'll see it is often translated as "a watched pot never boils." See, for example, the Collins dictionary translation.

December 30, 2017


That is why I am insistent on learning the literal translations. I have no desire to learn things by rote, as saying things without understanding them is a recipe for embarrassment. Or maybe that's just me...

April 14, 2014


Me too. I wrote 'whoever waits, exasperates' as a literal translation, and it was accepted as correct.

October 7, 2014


I wrote "those who wait, exasperate" and it was marked wrong

November 17, 2014


Well, what you've written is more like saying that those who wait will exasperate someone else, as "to exasperate" is not a reflexive action. It would be closer if you said "those who wait will be exasperated" or something similar.

March 3, 2015


Quién is singular. Those is plural.

January 11, 2015


"Those" is a gender neutral term. It's much closer than "a watched pot never boils" and shouldn't be wrong. And exasperate doesn't have to be reflexive. It can imply that people who wait are going to exasperate others without saying "others."

February 18, 2017


Replying to AprillRile's post starting with "Those"...

It's true that "exasperate" can imply that people who wait are going to exasperate others, but "desespera" applies to the person doing the "esperar", so while "he who waits exasperates" is a meaningful sentence, it's not a valid translation for the Spanish sentence.

February 19, 2017


"She sat, like Patience on a monument. " Shakespeare

April 9, 2016


I said the same thing (a year later) and I was marked wrong.

May 10, 2016


Maybe they finally agreed that using "exasperate" like that is wrong in this context. It should be "is exasperated", since it's the waiting that exasperates, not the person doing the waiting.

If a child is being annoying, we don't say "I exasperate", we say "You exasperate me".

May 10, 2016


i agree, learning the literal meaning seem to be better also it helps to have an English idiom to compare too

April 24, 2014


idioms rarely make much sense...a watched pot actually does boil! but the expression means that if you get on with something else it seems like it boils quickly.

March 11, 2014


I think it refers to patience. If you are impatiently standing over a pot waiting for it to boil, it seems like it takes forever.

October 13, 2014


Woah. NOW I do understand the idiom. Thank you!

May 9, 2015


I enjoyed reading idioms from other languages, your type explanation, however, would be the most useful. Interesting facts, history, connections, as well as a good explanation.

April 7, 2016


It can also mean "Who waits exasperates." Totally different.

December 30, 2016


You have to figure that someone who uses duolingo isn't native english, so It should be impossible for us to translate a spanish idiom with an english idiom...

June 15, 2014


I think a lot of us here could benefit from a more healthy attitude towards language learning. Naturally, learning a new language through English is difficult if English is not your first language, but limitations exists and duolingo couldn't possibly have courses to learn every language through every language yet, although they're doing a marvellous job releasing new language combinations every now and then.

Duolingo's gamification isn't there to make you feel bad about yourself when you lose hearts. It's there to give you some motivation as you go down the tree (or is it up? o.O), to have friendly competition against your friends and other duolingo community members, as well as to let you know you probably need to repeat a section.

Additionally, the idioms section is completely optional, so don't sweat the small stuff. if it really frustrates you, skip it entirely :)

Cheers and happy learning.

June 16, 2014


I have been speaking Spanish for many many years and I have been with my Mexican girlfriend for about ten of those years. When we are alone she and I speak Spanish about seventy five percent of the time but we sometimes mix in English.We also both enjoy karaoke and we sing at local venues in Spanish and English.

Even with all of that and more Duolingo although not perfect has been a great tool for in terms of bettering some of the finer grammatical points.

Also many of the idioms given and many more I have heard frequently. So they are used and if you don't know them you can get lost in normal conversations with a native talking at their normal pace.

July 19, 2014


You misunderstanding: I love duolingo's job! and I chose idioms option because I'm really interested in it! I was responding to who doesn't like the simplest translations, because it could be harder to us understand the idiomatic solution (even if it should be more interesting: you lern two idioms in two lenguage in one time, great!) I think that this disussions are perfect to analyze and explain any particular, but it couldn't be possible in the game, For this reason I think "the simpler, the better": I'm not afraid to be wrong, I'd like to easily understend my mistake (it's good that the suggest given after the mistake is the easier one, not an idiomatic phrase).

I'm doing the idiomatic option even in my native lenguage (reading most of the discussions) to better understand and learn enlgish idioms.. you can imagine how am I happy for this! :)

June 16, 2014


Bingo. Remember, Duolingo is a free application! If you're interested in more in-depth teaching, there are lots of resources out there.

Palocortado--nice job stacking up nine languages!

October 15, 2014


I don't agree. The literal translation helps us learn the language, which is the point, yes?

October 8, 2014


I am a native English speaker who is learning the language of his ancestors. I imagine there are quite a few native English speakers that use DuoLingo. I know one who was my classmate in nursing school.

January 12, 2015


I think Stronzia was just saying that some people using Duolingo aren't native in either language, and that it can be difficult for them to do the idioms. I think most of us in the "I know English, I want to learn X" courses are native English speakers.

January 13, 2015


Many of these idioms are used very frequently in conversation and on spanish television. To learn a language well one must learn the culture and common sayings. I heard a lady on a morning talk show use "en casa de herrero cuchillo de palo" just the other day. Some of these sayings are used less frequently that others but it appears that all of my latin friends know them.

In normal conversation idioms are integrated so fast that if you do not know them you will be left behind.

Unfortunately I have known many that have studied Spanish for years but get lost in normal conversations.

July 19, 2014


What does "en casa de herrero cuchillo de palo" mean? I put it in google translate and got jibberish.

October 6, 2014


www.spanishdict.com/translation is much better than google translate. It has three different translation engines. The third one gives "the shoemaker's son always goes barefoot". I think it literally means something like "in the house of the blacksmith the knife is made of wood".

October 6, 2014


Because they use computer traslators instead of human fluent with both languages, and recognize nuances

August 12, 2014


I honestly learn more about idioms reading these comments than completing the lessons. So many different minds collaborating on meaning, it's beautiful.

March 27, 2015


I was thinking a better translation would be "He who hesitates is lost". ;)

January 14, 2016


Or to put it in more familiar terms, "You snooze, you loose"! ;)

January 14, 2016


this one seems pretty obvious; he who hesitates is lost

October 18, 2014


Yeah! I wrote in "Who waits, exasperates" and when i scrolled over the words it seemed correct, but it said correct and said "Another correct solution: A watched pot never boils." Why duolingo?

October 25, 2015


"He who waits, exasperates" means the same as "A watched pot never boils" to me; both just teach us that patience is important (I know "exasperate" means to irritate someone, but in the idiom I think it just "means " that when one waits it just makes the waiting exasperating). So why despair on Duo's suggested another translation? ;) Congrats on a nicely done translation, though! :)

November 1, 2015


Thank you tessbee!

November 1, 2015


One couldn't agree more: give the literal translation and, if possible, explain it. "Whoever watches [constantly] exasperates him/herself" would be a good explanation. A watched pot never boils expresses the same basic idea in English, but it certainly isn't equivalent.

December 19, 2015



May 10, 2017


just to test the english-spanish-translation-intelligence

October 12, 2017


An unwatched pot boils over..

March 6, 2014


Schrodinger's pot.

September 23, 2014


A new idiom may have been created here.

April 7, 2016


I can attest to this many times over.

April 8, 2014


The literal translation to this idiom - "He who waits, despairs." This is really neat to figure out on your own. Compare it to the English idiom suggested by DL with a "grain of salt." We can all think of better idioms sometimes. But, seeing how the ones suggested contrast and compare to the literal Spanish , and other English idioms we know, is what really makes it interesting!

March 13, 2014


I liked the rhyme and translated this as "He who waits, exasperates."

March 26, 2014


As did I. Especially since it matches the original in doing so.

And the goal is to remember the phrase, so whatever helps, right?

November 1, 2014


Haha - some veteran cooks I know claim that salting the water makes it boil faster!

March 14, 2014


it is very technically true. also water boils at lower temperatures in higher altitudes.

March 18, 2014


I somehow managed to translate this as "He who hesitates is lost"

May 6, 2014


Same, i think that might be a better fit

July 29, 2014


That's a much better equivalent.

October 2, 2014


Technically you do not depress the boiling point of water by adding salt to it. You raise it that way. Those veteran cooks might cook whatever is in that salty water faster, but that is because they are cooking hotter.

August 18, 2014


So true, because it makes solution density increase. That is why 1L of milk would boil faster that 1L of water. :)

May 29, 2014


Thank you for the verbatim translation. I am not of English mother tongue - this makes it even more interesting.

March 22, 2014


Personally, I think the English idiom that comes closest to this Spanish one is, "He who hesitates, is lost." Both the Spanish and this English idiom have to do with missed opportunities for those who wait (hesitate) too long.

March 22, 2014


The native Spanish speakers have said that this is about the agony of the waiting itself. The watched pot idiom is a good match for that.

March 22, 2014


Wow. That's so interesting. I spoke with several native Spanish speakers myself and they said it was about potential missed opportunities. One compared it with, "You snooze, you lose!" I guess, like so many other things, it has a lot to do with where one is from. Thanks, a lot!

March 23, 2014


I guess even native speakers sometimes make wrong assumptions about what idioms mean.

I heard someone say "It's a doggy dog world". I didn't want to ask what she thought that meant, but I doubt that she thought it meant "dog eat dog".

March 23, 2014


I think context would be important whether it translates to "a watched pot never boils" or "he who hesitates is lost". Both technically mean it sucks to wait, just for different reasons!

January 15, 2017


I tried "he who hesitates is lost" based on the literal word translations, but it was wrong.

August 24, 2014


I tried "He who waits, exasperates." Accepted, and has a nice ring to it too.

March 18, 2014


I did too. It does have a nice ring to it.

March 23, 2014


It does, but it means something completely different, so I am at a loss there... It's great to know the word for exasperates, though!

April 14, 2014


As my mom said, "Hablando y moviendo las manos", that means we have to do another thing despite of waiting to finish one if we could do both

September 19, 2014


Called multitasking in modern English

April 9, 2016


No, it is not completely different. You just don't get the intended meaning.

July 1, 2014


Well, it's almost completely different. "He exasperates" means that he is exasperating (to somebody else). The equivalent to the Spanish is "he is exasperated" (by someone or something).

August 9, 2014


Right? It's a lot catchier, haha.

June 4, 2015


Thanks to this commenting section I have learnt both idioms :) My mother tongue is Finnish so these idioms are really hard to understand... If I got it right I think in Finland we would say "Odottavan aika on pitkä"

June 5, 2014


So with idioms in spanish you learn phrases instead of words? Cause if you literally translate this and some others there is no way it comes to what they say is the correct answer. Like the barking dog one and a few others. If this is the case, why?

March 2, 2014


It's just how idioms are.

It's the same even for an English speaker learning an English idiom. For example, "hit the sack" doesn't have anything to do with hitting or with a sack.

March 2, 2014


But in english the phrase has a root meaning and "Hitting the sack" refers to hitting a sack of (wheat, cotton, etc.) in order to make it more comfortable to sleep on same with hitting the hay, it still refers to what you originally were doing and the words mean what they say. This idiom has nothing to do with boiling, heat, or pots. The other translations about waiting and despair etc make much more sense. I can see how some of these come close but most are a looong stretch to come up with their translation.

March 3, 2014


How about the phrase when pigs fly?

March 19, 2014


LOL that's a good one but really it is like the others I was talking about, it's just saying that when pigs fly this will happen, and since pigs don't fly then the answer is probably no, or I'm never going to do that :) , but since the invention of airplanes that is kind of a redundant idiom as they can fly in a plane so technically if someone uses that today you can use it to your advantage ;)

April 3, 2014


Harried businessman on phone: How about never? Is never good for you?

July 6, 2014


Is anyone else getting incredibly tired of this particular idiom? I keep redoing this lesson because there are some of the idioms I have barely seen and definitely couldn't reproduce, and instead I just get asked this same pot question 30 times. Why? Is it unusually important? Did I like miss it the first 3 or 4 times and duolingo is still punishing me for it?

March 22, 2014


Me, I get "Cada loco con su tema" over and over. Maybe you're right that we got them wrong too many times at the beginning. I've done "cada loco" correctly more than a zillion times now.

March 22, 2014


In Ireland "A watched kettle never boils"

March 26, 2014


Yes, I gave the same answer, so definitely kettle is used there. I'm Irish.

June 18, 2014


And in the UK. But it wouldn't accept it.

July 16, 2014


i prefer this for multiple choise, it it to difficult to translate them all

June 2, 2014


The idiom makes sense to me. If you keep watching the pot, it appears to take forever to boil.

June 3, 2014


So is it "whosoever waits becomes exasperated" ? Doesn't rhyme like in the original language but I guess that's the gist of it. I know technically "desespera" is "exasperates" but it's not the one who waits who causes the exasperation; it's the wait itself.

June 21, 2014


I wrote "He who waits, despairs" first. I know those words already from my grandparents. But the REAL answer here is the English idiom. How does this help learn the language? Let us have the literal translation with notes on some equivalent or near equivalent English idioms. This isn't helping me learn these phrases. It turns into a frustrating memory game without correlation to the language I'm actually trying to learn.

August 1, 2014


What the hell does this have to do with a pot?

January 4, 2014


Talking about waiting for a pot of water to boil is an allegory, a story that describes the common human experience that is also (sort of) described by "Quien espera, desespera". I'm not convinced that it is exactly the same thing, but that's what makes translating such an art. I love the matching words espera and desespera, how they are almost the same and roll off the tongue so poetically, yet have opposite meanings. Espera has the alternate meaning "hope" to contrast with "despair". You can't say the same thing in English so elegantly.

January 5, 2014


It's kind of the opposite of "Time flies when you're having fun."

April 14, 2014


They sound the same and mean the opposite precisely because this is the same word, but in one case it has a negating prefix.

July 1, 2014


"A watched pot never boils" doesn't have anything to do with a pot either.

January 5, 2014


"Periculum in mora", есть такая пословица на латинском. Я привыкла использовать ее в жизни именно как "Ожидание смерти подобно"

April 25, 2014


Apparently "whomever" wasn't acceptable :/ Interesting lesson though!

June 24, 2014


I said "this doesnt make any sense" & it told me it was correct

June 26, 2014


The literal translation is: He who waits exasperates. I'm brazilian and Brazilian Portuguese is very close to Spanish, I realized that and they said it was right, but it has nothing to do with what their watched pot parable meant, I think

July 1, 2014


How are we supposed to learn what they mean if hovering over it gives a literal translation, and not the translation for the idiom, which is the answer? Am I missing something that's supposed to teach me what it means after seeing it for the first time, or am I just supposed to keep starting over until I figure it out?

August 20, 2014


I love to play with words, so the idiom section is just up my alley. Fortunately DL's free course manage to entice an 80 years old like me to hang on to a dead boring PC, is't it something? I have seen language teaching at school classes, radio lessons, lingaphone lessons on venyle etc, but DL beats them all. Thank you DL.

September 10, 2014


I find idioms hard to think of when translating. I don't tend to to use them in English and it's hard to pull something from youryou rind when you don't use/understand it anyway in your own language. I also think it would be better to have both the literal translation and the counterpart...I'd probably understand the English ones that way!

May 25, 2015


The literal translation IS a good idea. It's not relevant but we are still trying to understand the words and their origin.

October 15, 2015


With so many comments before me I add mine reluctantly, in the hope that an authority of some kind, maybe DL staff will confirm or correct the idiom. I take the literal translation to be, 'Who waits despairs'. All that stuff about exasperating makes no sense to me in either English or Spanish. If the translation really is 'A watched pot ...' it would be great to have it confirmed. 'You snooze you lose' has been mentioned and that is perhaps a more modern or dynamic way to state the traditional 'He who hesitates is lost', which to my mind appears a far more rational interpretation. Thanks to everyone who contributed so far. And thanks to DL which is superb. Like everyone else here I just don't want to fix a mistaken translation in my head. Judging by the age of some comments it seems some people have already been watching this particular pot for long enough haha!

July 26, 2015


Here's a Spanish site explaining what it means: http://www.refranesysusignificado.com/refran8763.html. "Enseña que debemos tener paciencia porque la impaciencia sólo conduce a la desesperación.", which Spanishdict translates as "It teaches that we must have patience because impatience just leads to despair."

I think "A watched pot never boils" has the same meaning. I don't think "He who hesitates is lost" has that meaning since that's more about an actual lost opportunity than any emotional distress about waiting. For sure "He who waits exasperates" is wrong since it's backwards, but I think "He who waits is exasperated" is ok.

July 27, 2015


Yes, yes, yes. You've got it exactly right–an English speaker

April 3, 2016


Wow! i didnt see that one at all! i thought it was no hope is despair! love these idioms

March 11, 2014


I've had several occasions recently when I've used this. Thanks DL!

March 13, 2014


I like "He who waits exasperates". It's got a nice ring to it.

April 29, 2014


I'm going to remember and use that one. I like it.

October 6, 2014


I failed the first time but I saw the anwser and restarted the lesson and got it right the second time.

May 26, 2014


a watched kettle never boils. this is what we say in England

May 27, 2014


The point (of learning an idiom, idea, phrase, etc.) is to think in the native speakers mindest and adopt their idioms, or toolset. Not to find poor or barely equivalent phrases in English, that often have acually different meanings.

This exercise feels like an exercise in futility.

June 27, 2014


If this idiom here is used in Spanish amongst Mexicans, or whomever, then its worth the lesson. If not, I'll set the trend and use it until it's being used amongst the native tongue.

June 30, 2014


I find it interesting to find out what the Spanish idioms mean and how to say them but I do not like having to translate English idioms I never use into Spanish idioms which use words of totally different direct translations.

July 1, 2014


Just wondering, for those that are more familiar in the use of the phrase, is it used in a certain context? When I first read it I thought it would used in a context of love and relationships ie, those who pine (wait), despair. After reading the comments, I get the impression that it may have a broader application ie. a watched pot never boils.

July 3, 2014


I get the feeling it's more used in the context of 'Chill out.' Or 'There's no use worrying/being impatient', and 'patience is a virtue'. Since it deals with both waiting and being exasperated by waiting for something. So maybe a context example is; if you were driving your friends nuts waiting for a potential employer to call you back, they'd say it to stop you waiting anxiously by the phone for three days straight.

September 12, 2014


Its kinda hard when they dont give you the 'el' when they want you to put he in there. Like he who waits exasperates? I didnt know it began with he

August 31, 2014


I put in 'He who waits, exasperates,' and it was accepted. Which is not actually like the idiom answer given, so not all that consistent. But hey, thank goodness for small mercies, I kept my hearts from falling to pieces.

December 18, 2014


I wrote "he who waits, exasperates" and it rhymed so nicely I thought it was the expected answer

January 13, 2015


Why couldn't it be who waits gets exasperated? Because it's too literal

January 29, 2015


I thought You snooze you loose Would be better

February 10, 2015


I paid good lingots for these phrases!

February 13, 2015


Isn't this, he who waits, waits in vain?

June 1, 2015


Brilliant! Why did no one else think of this?

June 2, 2015


Pretty sure I have heard that said as an English saying. That's perfect!

June 2, 2015


I was pretty sure I had heard it too, but when I googled "he who waits, waits in vain", almost nothing came up - I think I got 3 results! "Those who wait, wait in vain" got more results, seems like maybe it's from the Bible. But I'm pretty sure I've heard it as 'he' who waits, not 'those'.

June 2, 2015


This translation is totally wrong. Quien espera, desespera, means: He who waits, despairs. The English equivalent would be: Hope deferred makes the heart sick. UN OLLA VIGILADA JAMAS HIERVE, is a watched pot never boils! It is not a mis-translation, it's a simple mistake! Duolingo have given the wrong answer because this answer is correct for Question 155! Come on Duolingo, get it right!!!!

July 4, 2015


He who waits, waits in vain

September 17, 2015


"(S)he who waits, is disappointed" would be my guess for a literal translation. In my five years of formal Spanish-language education, we never learned the word "desespera," so I have trouble telling what the speaker says.

February 4, 2016


What's wrong with "is exasperated" rather than "exasperates?"

January 7, 2017


There's nothing wrong with "is exasperated", and everything wrong with "exasperates". "Who waits, exasperates" means that people who wait are annoying.

January 8, 2017


I think the correct translation should be: "He who hesitates is lost."

October 29, 2017


Whats wrong with "He who waits, despairs" as a translation? Nowhere are pots mentioned...

November 25, 2017


The English version with the pots isn't a literal word for word translation, it's an idiomatic translation of the whole idea in the Spanish idiom.

"He who waits, despairs" is a pretty good literal translation. I thought Duolingo accepted that one.

November 25, 2017


"he who hesitates is lost" should fit too I think

April 18, 2014


I got "He who waits exasperates" and that was correct... ?

May 2, 2014


Loss of hope is synonomous with despair, isn't it?

June 16, 2014


I should have never bought idioms

June 16, 2014


I put, "He who waits, exasperates," and got it correct!!! LoL

June 24, 2014


In another exercise, this was translated as "He who hesitates, despsirs" which might be better translated as "He who hesitates, loses".

July 4, 2014


The English translation wasn't even close to the real translation was...

July 8, 2014


Who waits (4 a response) exasperates! Btw, 'xcept 4 a lil' 'nflexibility, DuoL is 'xceptional; it's a necessary tool 'n anyone's language-learning kit. Thank you.

July 28, 2014


DuoL erred in its trans of "Quien espera, desespera," it having translated that as "A watched pot never boils," i.e., oc, if DuoL wasn't making a streched point.

July 28, 2014


"Those who wait, despair" Is also accepted and I think is much easier to remember.

July 28, 2014


Google translate said it was who hopes, despairs

August 1, 2014


So last night, the answer was, "good things come to those who wait..." I got it wrong when I put "a watch pot never boils." Tonight I put "a watched pot never boils" and got it wrong supposed to be "good things come to those who wait" ummm hellooo

August 8, 2014


Wow. "Quien espera, desespera." Duolingo translation: A watched pot never boils. Google Translate translation: Who hopes, despairs. I don't know which to believe :D

August 11, 2014


Both :) Idiomatic translation vs literal translation. Hang on to your hat - there are some even wilder ones in this unit.

August 11, 2014


So I guess the translation to that setence is "He who waits despairs." but that basically means the same same thing as "A watced pot never boils." I payed 20 lingots for this really confusing level. I better learn all of it.

August 12, 2014


You're just misunderstanding what an idiom is, that's all. An idiom is a "saying" and is not necessarily even true. The whole point of language is to explain something we all already understand in our minds. That's why the translations aren't literal; they are different ways of describing the same thing.

Saying "a watched pot never boils" is just one language's way of expressing a human concept: the fact that when you are impatient, things seem to take a long time. It is a universal human experience and there are multiple ways to say it, even within languages.

Here's an example. I don't know German but they almost certainly have the equivalent to these. Maybe in Germany it developed as "a cut won't heal if you stare at it." You know what I mean? Every human being understands the concept of impatience altering our perception of time and one would assume every language conveys this differently.

October 15, 2015


I personally thought it meant he who hopes despairs. I guess there are many variations in the Spanish language.

August 11, 2014


"The one who waits will dispair." If u really want to know just google it.

August 13, 2014


That's what I did, and Google said that it meant "who waits, despairs" while Duolingo said that it meant the more idiomatic "a watched pot never boils."

Most of these idioms can't be translated word-for-word. They're figures of speech with Hispanic origin, not English.

August 13, 2014


LOL How on earth would I have guessed that?!

August 19, 2014


"He who waits, exasperates." I have never once in my life used the word exasperate. I think they just picked a near-meaningless English word because it rhymes. According to Google Translate desespera means "despairs". "He who waits despairs" is probably stronger than the intended meaning of the idiom, but it at least uses words that people actually use. The alternative of "a watched pot never boils" doesn't even have any words in common with the Spanish idiom. I guess we'll just have to take this expression more-or-less on faith, but I'm glad I looked into it rather than just accepting the given meaning.

August 22, 2014


Desespera also means "infuriate" which is similar to exasperate. But "He who waits, exasperates" is using "exasperate" wrong. It's the waiting that exasperates, not the one doing the waiting, so it should be "He who waits is exasperated", but I guess that doesn't sound as cute. So in this case, despairs is much better.

August 23, 2014


Yes, and "exasperates" actually means the person is behaving in an exasperating way towards someone else! Very different meaning. Too bad - I would really like to replicate the rhyming, mirror-image thing.

August 23, 2014


Me too. I spent a while with the thesaurus yesterday trying to find rhyming words for "wait" and "despair".

August 24, 2014


How about "He who waited is exasperated"? Nah ...

I'm starting a ribbon campaign against "He who waits, exasperates". 8< I don't like the idea of the word "exasperate" taking on a new backwards meaning.

December 19, 2014


i find this ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

August 31, 2014


Quien or quie'n. I wonder, what's the difference?

September 2, 2014


Quién is used when you're asking a question. "¿Quién come pasta?," for example, means "Who eats pasta?" Quien is used if you're making a statement, for example: "Quien come pasta está felíz." "One who eats pasta is happy." Looking at these sentences, it also becomes obvious that "quien" isn't just "who," but rather, "one who," or "he who," which is also accepted by duolingo for the "quien" in "quien espera, desespera."

January 11, 2015


Really confusing translation

September 11, 2014


This should really translate as "He who hesitates is lost"

September 11, 2014


See other threads in this discussion about why "he who hesitates" doesn't really match this Spanish idiom.

September 12, 2014


So what I'm getting is the theme that impatience does no one any good. The words 'waiting' and 'watching' both imply you're wasting time and exasperation on something that will either happen or it won't regardless of whether you're worked up about it. Or to take it further; that the wasted time and exasperation will actually be counter productive. It's a 'patience is a virtue' or a 'whatever will be, will be' type of phrase.

September 12, 2014


it says espera=waits for, so I wrote wait for in the translation but that was wrong! It should not say wait for if it's wrong.

September 14, 2014


This is not a translation!!!!!!! The literal translation is, "Who waits exasperates" but who would know that they are asking for "A watched pot never boils?"

September 21, 2014


Sorry, I really have some difficulties here. I'm not an english native speaker. What does this idiom even mean?

September 21, 2014


In addition to learning three new Spanish words, I have learnt a new English word.

October 4, 2014


I know that that is not literally what it means i typed "what waits exasperats" and it was excepted

October 5, 2014


'He who waits exasperates' has a good ring compared to my native English 'a watched pot never boils'. I may adopt it at times!

October 17, 2014


hahaha, she who waits exasperates is my new favourite phrase :D people dont actually say that do they?

October 18, 2014


Probably not (except maybe some duolingo-ers do now), since it means "she who waits is annoying (to others)".

A: Stop waiting.

B: No.

A: Please stop waiting.

B: No, I like waiting.

A: You exasperate me!

October 18, 2014



December 14, 2014


Who waits, exasperates....... It was accepted :)

November 5, 2014


I said "whoever waits, easperates" and it marked it as correct..?

November 22, 2014


woah!! I was doing a lesson and it was normal. Then all at once started a new one and it told me that it was changed to this strength bar thing!!!

December 3, 2014


I said whoever instead of who. Is this wrong?

December 12, 2014


i really like the idioms, but the translation to english is really confusing

December 15, 2014


If you want the literal translations, you can click on the words tgey give you and it has their definitions...you can kind of put it togethrr from there

December 26, 2014


So, what I got was "he who waits, exascerbates". How does this translate into a watched pot?

December 27, 2014


The Spanish idiom is, "who waits, despairs." This means that if you wait for something to happen, you will be wasting your time. In English, the equivalent idiom is, "a warched pot never boils." This is basically means that the more you anticipate something, the longer it seems to take.

December 28, 2015


I wish I could give you a hundred thumbs up. That's how right you are.

April 3, 2016


The early bird gets the worm..??

December 28, 2014


This is a very interesting lesson because the translations aren't exact. Its the ideas that translate, it gives you insight to what a native might use. instead of just a Spanish translation. I've gotten most wrong but I've learned a lot. :-)

January 7, 2015


I could never have gotten to a watched pot never boils from the Spanish! But I enjoyed having a stab, and then finding out the close-equivalent, which made sense to me when I thought about it. I think this is a fun activity.

January 13, 2015


I could never have gotten to a watched pot never boils from the Spanish! But I enjoyed having a stab, and then finding out the close-equivalent, which made sense to me when I thought about it. I think this is a fun activity.

January 13, 2015


This seems more like "he who hesitates is lost"!

January 18, 2015


Am i the only person who put "he who waits, exasperates"? Lol!

January 28, 2015


Ok wait. It says the translation is exasperate? Why not take that?

February 8, 2015


You can take the translation as being in the passive voice. In other words, he who waits IS BEING EXASPERATED, probably by the time it is taking the watched pot to boil. Although it eventually will boil, it can feel like an eon to someone who is impatient. This is quite different from "He who waits exasperates" because in this sentence someone else is being exasperated.

April 3, 2016


A typo ugh...

February 26, 2015


Como se dice? "Pot" and "Boils?"

February 28, 2015


I think that with the words we are learning we can figure out the literal translations for ourselves, most of the time. I have made my own translations that are pretty close.

March 5, 2015


I understand idioms sometimes don't translate the same way across languages but this particular one isn't even possible to figure out

March 9, 2015


I believe that this question is wrong. - it should be - (HE) who waits, despairs.

March 11, 2015


You can click on the words and work it out yourself.

March 13, 2015


In the section 'questions' I learned that quien is written with an accent on the e, so which spelling is correct?

March 27, 2015


It depends how it's being used. It's "quién" when it's the subject in a question, and "quien" when it's an ordinary pronoun.

Other words like "donde", "como" etc behave the same way. You can usually tell whether the Spanish word should have an accent by the stress you place on the equivalent English word. In a question like "Who is that?", "who" is stressed in English. In "He who waits, despairs", "who" is not stressed. For "Where is my hat?" it's "dónde" and for "I found it where my coat was ", it's donde.

It works for other words that don't always have accents. "él" is accented when it's "he" and not when it's "the".

March 28, 2015


Isn't this tranlation supposed to be "He who waits, despairs."?

April 2, 2015


What about, "the early bird gets the worm"? It speaks of being early rather than late, but both idioms are telling the importance of about acting quickly, it seems. "A watched pot never boils" is about being patient.

April 5, 2015


The Spanish idiom isn't about the importance of acting quickly, it's about the agony of waiting. I agree that "A watched pot never boils" is advice to be patient, but the advice would not be needed if being patient wasn't unpleasant.

April 5, 2015


An idiom is kind of like a common phrase or "saying" .. don't take the word-for-word translation so literal , literally .

April 19, 2015


I' m dutch and that makes proverbs rather difficult. Even if i understand the spanish sentence, the translation proves to be very hard. A translation combined with the meaning instead of an english proverb would be very helpfull to me.

April 21, 2015


Even though it is repetitious, "he who waits, hesistates" is a more common phrase than "he who waits exasperates". Same meaning.

May 5, 2015


"hesitates" and "exasperates" don't mean the same thing, and neither means the same as "desespera". See other comments about why "exasperates" doesn't fit here. For example the thread started by DharmaLogos.

(I haven't ever heard "he who waits, hesitates" before, and I didn't get any Google hits. I did get some hits for "he who hesitates, waits". But that says something different from "quien espera, desespera".)

May 5, 2015


Idioms that rhyme are the best: ya snooze ya lose, whatever floats yer boat & this spanish one

May 12, 2015


The literal English translation rhymes absurdly well! "Who waits exasperates.'

May 16, 2015


I would like to see the literal translation as well as DL's idiom translation using the another transation feature. Even in the hints they are just giving the whole idiom, so i am having a devil of a time trying to figure out how it relates.

June 14, 2015


Thinking about this more. Literally it's something like: He who waits, despairs. Might this not be closer in meaning and usage to the English: fortune favors the bold? Or maybe: the early bird catches the worm?

July 3, 2015


It depends on what the despair is about. If it's about the result of not having acted quickly, then both of your ideas are good. If it's about the waiting itself, then the watched-pot idiom is good.

To me these seem like native Spanish speakers, and they say it's about the waiting. https://es.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111017084012AApYiKP http://expresionesyrefranes.com/2007/07/06/el-que-espera-desespera/

But ... in this discussion, glazewg says "I spoke with several native Spanish speakers myself and they said it was about potential missed opportunities."

And here, http://www.sabidurias.com/cita/es/8969/william-george-ward/las-oportunidades-son-como-los-amaneceres-si-uno-espera-demasiado-se-los-pierde, someone says "quien espera, desespera" in a comment after a quote about missed opportunities.

I get more and more confused about this one.

July 3, 2015


Please remove this useless nonsense.. there is so much more useful stuf to be learned..

July 9, 2015


Thank you BarbaraMorris, I accept your explanation: A watched pot never boils. You almost support your explanation with 'Patience is a virtue', but that's another idiom altogether :-)

July 27, 2015


"He who watches despairs"? Easier to remember as a translation, even if not in as common use in English. I like reading the history of these idioms...

July 28, 2015


Dutch translation...? I don't think we use this idiom.

August 3, 2015


who waits exasperates. duolingo give me a almost correct.

August 4, 2015


This literally means, "Who waits, exasperates." This actually fits in quite well.

August 21, 2015


The old saying "I can't even boil an egg" started back in ancient history from people staring at their pots.......

August 24, 2015


its true a watched pot never boils!! another similar idiom: watched rice never cooks. my-made-up idiom: a watched pan never fries.

September 11, 2015


Esperar is also 'to wish, to hope', and desesperar has the Latinate prefix 'des-', which negates it. So this idiom translates to the literal: 'he who waits, despairs'.

October 4, 2015


I asked someof my Spanish speaking friends about these idioms. Some of these Spanish to English translations are expressed differently or seemingly different translations depending on what Spanish speaking country your from.

October 9, 2015


I think people are getting tripped up by the fact that idioms are not meant to be literally translated. It's the idea that matters, right? In this case, it's a concept most people are quite familiar with: the fact that impatience can drastically alter our perception of the passage of time. The reason that there are multiple ways to say this is, again, because it's a concept.

That's all languages are, by the way: an imperfect expression of thoughts and ideas and concepts. I think it helps to remember this when learning another language. We're only ever trying to figure out what's in each other's heads. In the case of idioms, we're thinking the same concept but we have a different way of expressing it.

October 15, 2015


Surprised it accepted my 'who waits, despairs'. Never even heard the actual phrase as with most of these lol.

October 19, 2015


"He who hesitates is lost" seems more accurate

November 22, 2015


See other threads in this discussion about why "he who hesitates" doesn't really match this Spanish idiom.

November 22, 2015


I translated this as "To wait is to despair". Arguably, Spanish, since the time of Cervantes, is the most poetic of the Indo-european languages. I consider myself a fairly literate English native and absolutely choke on such cliche idioms as "the watched pot". I defy you to find the well spoken Spaniard who would translate this common idiom as you duolingo dudes have. Bastane!!!

December 27, 2015


Who waits, despairs.

December 28, 2015


Literally-"who waits, exasperates". I though it was interesting that this contradicts the idiom "haste makes waste", although I haven't seen that one so far on Duo.

January 3, 2016



"Who waits, exasperates." (Word-for-word translation according to Duolingo: counted correct)

"A watched pot never boils." (Alternate solution)

Really Duolingo? xD

January 6, 2016


I thought it means "who waits [for a long time], gets angry"

February 1, 2016


This literally means what? Who what despair?

February 5, 2016


isn't patience a good quality?

February 8, 2016


i said Who hopes, despairs but it was wrong! why?

February 18, 2016


these are just english idioms. I do like that I could say them in spanish but i would like to know the literal translation and put my own spin on it

February 20, 2016


why is who waits exasperates correct?

March 4, 2016


A better solution to the poor translations and the unfathomable idioms would be to have to choose an answer from 3

March 20, 2016


The interpretation of this idiom is inaccurate and actually misleading. "A watched pot never boils" implies that while one is actively observing a process, it will never reach completion. "Quien espera, desespera" implies that if one hopes or waits for something, one is likely to be disappointed.

March 21, 2016


"A watched pot never boils" implies that... "Something we wait for with impatient attention seems to take forever."

Source: Dictionary.com

March 23, 2016


When i put an accent on it ends up not having one and vice versa. How do i know if an accent mark is used?? Memory only? :(

April 2, 2016


"Quién" and "quien" both mean "who." However, you need an accent only if the word is being used as a question word. "Quién" is used when you are asking a question, such as "¿De quién es el caballo?" "Quien," on the other hand, is used when it is saying "who" or whom and it is not a question. Only when it is a question is an accent needed.

April 2, 2016


And I think the reason the accent is used when it's a question word is that question words are emphasized in speech. We do it in English too. "WHO is at the DOOR?" vs "The MAN who is at the DOOR."

April 2, 2016


I feel like a better translation of this would be "you snooze, you lose" or "the early bird gets the worm."

A full linguistic analysis of the words would be much more effective (especially since I spend lingots on this lesson) than rote memorization. Cheers.

April 8, 2016


Is that a correct translation though? Is the overall meaning not along the lines of 'don't focus on the event, simply have patience and it will happen in time'? If one stares at a kettle while anticipating the cup of tea, it will feel like a lifetime until it boils; but if one were to leave and do something else, upon return the kettle may have boiled, or be close to it - feeling like it had done so in no time. Now, I could be completely wrong, but that's how I understand it. Hope this helps

April 9, 2016


How does "who waits, exasperates" mean the same as "a watched pot never boils" ?

April 20, 2016


I wrote "whoever waits exasperates." Duo said I'm wrong.

April 29, 2016


How about "hope deferred makes the heart sick" which as a Biblical phrase presumably exists in most European languages.

May 6, 2016


I said "whoever waits exasperates". It marked me wrong, saying that the correct answer was "WHO waits exasperates". Not only was this grammatically incorrect, but it also wasn't capitalized, which I would assume is standard procedure for DuoLingo. And am I the only one who thinks that 'who waits exasperates' is nothing like "A watched pot never boils."?

May 18, 2016


I put the literal translation "who waits, exasperates", then when Duolingo showed me an alternate answer it was completely different, why is this??

June 4, 2016


"exasperates" isn't the literal translation. It would have to be "is exasperated".

This unit is intended to translate one idiom with another idiom. The Spanish idiom usually uses completely different words and even concepts from the English idiom, but the overall idea being expressed by the idiom is the same. When Spanish speakers want to say "it's difficult to wait for something", they say "Quién espera desespera" (He who waits despairs) and English speakers say "A watched pot never boils".

June 5, 2016


Possibly the best comment I've read, in this incredibly long string of conversation, over the past couple of years!

June 6, 2016


As a non-native English speaker, the English in this part of the course seems to be as much of a struggle, if not more than the Spanish...

August 6, 2016


I think the most helpful way to teach this is to say both what the English equivalent of the idiom is and what the literal translation of the words are, because it can be confusing without both.

August 8, 2016


U love how it corrected my Whoever to Who and counted it wrong sarcasm sounds

August 22, 2016


A new word, only given as "exasperates" and then exasperates is wrong!

September 3, 2016


I think "If you doubt, you lose out" would be a closer translation.

September 12, 2016


How on earth do you get: a watched pot never boils from: Whoever waits exasperates?

October 9, 2016


My entire life I've known this as "you snooze, you lose". Has anyone ever heard/used the phrase "a watched pot never boils"?

November 4, 2016


Yes, I have, but it was in a children's book probably published in the 1990s.

November 4, 2016


How does "Who waits, exasperates" have an alternative answer of "A watched pot never boils". How do you even get the word pot or boils that from the sentence

November 6, 2016


Whoever waits, exasperates.

November 9, 2016


My only issue is that for "desespera" it did not have "despair" as an option, so whoever waits despairs would never occur to me, and also, this is not something that would make me think of a watched pot never boils

November 12, 2016


I think in this case it also means that the more you expect thing to happen, the longer you feel.

December 16, 2016


How about "He who waits is lost?"

December 21, 2016


When you wait, you exasperate!

January 15, 2017



January 26, 2017


I personally find it really great that it rhymes in both English and Spanish.

February 19, 2017


not what it says. more like "he who waits, despairs". there is no pot in there

February 22, 2017


Thanks, hover definitions.

March 1, 2017


How about "He who hesitates is lost"?

March 12, 2017


reasonable translation...He who hesitates is lost.

March 19, 2017


why are there so many comments

May 5, 2017


I typed "Who waits exasperates" and it accepted it! That's a rhyme in both languages!

May 18, 2017


Too bad that "Who waits exasperates" doesn't mean the same thing. It means that people who wait are annoying to others. It should be "Who waits is exasperated", which unfortunately doesn't rhyme, although "He who waited was exasperated" could work.

May 19, 2017


I wrote "Who watches exasperates" and it was correct !

June 17, 2017


A watched pot never boils when duolingo is slacking off!

June 23, 2017


Those English translation hints sucked

July 4, 2017


Earlier Duolingo said that this meant "who waits, exasperates". so which is it?

July 19, 2017


It actually means 'who hopes despairs', thats the literal translation, i suppose duolingo was giving us the closest English idiom so we would understand what is meant when it is used. Just guessing though.

August 10, 2017


I think it's "who waits despairs". Esperar can mean both "hope" and "wait", but "wait" makes more sense in the context of despairing. Tying "hope" and "despair" together seems pretty dark.

August 12, 2017


He who waits despairs!

October 29, 2017


Which is why I think the meaning is probably closest to 'he who hesitates is lost'. This covers both the agony/boredom of waiting and the possibility of not achieving a goal. 'The early bird catches the worm' has a close meaning and the expressions could be used interchangeably in many circumstances e.g. when there is something tangible to achieve by moving fast (the best seat in the room, the bargain in a shop etc). 'He who hesitates is lost' is more general e.g. spending too much time thinking about doing something and never getting on to actually doing it, missing the opportunity in the process.

August 12, 2017


I am not sure of the relationship between the pot seeming to take a long time to boil if you do nothing but gaze at it and the idea of unpleasantness leading from constant (indiscriminate?)talking. Is seems to me that the first idiom advises to keep busy to reduce worry when waiting. The second seems similar to 'careless talk costs lives', the wartime slogan.Ie. you could let slip facts that could be used negatively by an enemy.

August 19, 2017


Thats not even what it says??

August 26, 2017


It seems the phrase in Spanish is what the idiom explanation will be in English. Not even close to a literal translation.

September 2, 2017


Can someone explain this in more detail?

September 3, 2017


I understand that idioms should be treated as a whole sentence, rather than a single word. But I still am not sure if this phrase is right. Also, I'm a native English speaker, and I have NEVER heard of this phrase in English. So I'm not sure how I would have been able to guess that correctly, lol.

September 4, 2017


Yes it does, just very, Very Slowly.

October 3, 2017


Connecting Spanish idioms to English equivalents works when the phrase is identical in each language. Otherwise you should instead give us a simple, plain English translation of what the idiom really means. Even if it doesn't rhyme or sounds a bit awkward.

I feel like mapping these phrases to well-known English idioms could teach learners the wrong meanings.

October 20, 2017


How does this even translate??? Makes no sense

December 26, 2017


OMG, Watched pot is a TERRIBLE translation. Foot in mouth, catching flies, these other expressions people are suggesting, are TERRIBLE. Nothing about feet, nothing about never boiling, these translations are TOTALLY WRONG, period, no excuse, not even close. Literally: Who waits, Despairs. Idiom: He who hesitates is lost. See how it's exactly the same? THAT IS THE CORRECT TRANSLATION.

It's absolutely nothing to do with waiting for a pot to boil, it is exactly like the English translation saying NOT to wait, he who waits despairs, he who hesitates loses, get off your butt and act. Those idioms are totally different and this translation isn't less-than-ideal it is WRONG.

How you people could possibly think it's about catching flies with your mouth hanging open is beyond me. That's just MILES off. Seriously.

December 26, 2017


That thread about flies is a sub-discussion of a different idiom, "En boca cerrada no entran moscas". bdickson123 explaining that we can't translate idioms word for word.

About "He who hesitates is lost", I think the best way to find out what a Spanish idiom means is to look for a Spanish website. Here's one: http://blogderefranes.com/quien-espera-desespera/

It says "Describe la ansiedad y el nerviosismo del que espera.", which says "Describes the anxiety and nervousness of one who waits."

That fits much better with "A watched pot never boils" than it fits with "He who hesitates is lost".

It's true that "Who waits, despairs" could be interpreted to mean that not waiting would lead to a better outcome, but it seems pretty clear that the waiting being referred to in "Quién espera, desespera" is the unavoidable kind of waiting, such as waiting for a pot to boil.

(By the way, just yesterday, I proved that a watched pot does boil. And I also experienced the despair part, "Come on, boil! Boil! ... Boil!)

December 26, 2017


You really should read through the comments more carefully. There has been a quite a lot of discussion back and forth, with a fair amount of misinformation, but the actual meaning has been explained. As BarbaraMorris points out, check out a Spanish website if you can't discern which comments are more accurate.

January 21, 2018


As Duolingo claims itself does queen also mean "whoever" which was marked as 'wrong' in my case and replaced by "who", also to claim is that the sentence + translation above definitely doesn't fit to the sentence

January 2, 2018



January 24, 2018


Ahhh, that's so sweet! It's almost like you're a big boy now. We're all so looking forward to when you can use your words.

January 24, 2018


I though espera means hope He who hopes despairs was rejected

January 26, 2018


I cant believe this was accepted "He who waits for immigration papers or green cards".

January 26, 2018


What's wrong with "whoever waits, exasperates" when you gave as your correction "who waits exasperates"?

January 30, 2018


While I've never heard anyone use "who waits, exasperates," the consensus from the comments seems to be that "who" rather than "whoever" is the pronoun used in the idiom.

Grammatically, your version is more or less the same. I believe using "whoever" gives a little more emphasis to the "who" than the original. The saying is really about waiting and despairing. Who is doing the waiting is largely immaterial, since it's meant to apply generally to anyone. So, adding emphasis to the "who" part seems wrong.

Still, these are all sort of silly sayings/proverbs. So, I don't think there's much justification for being overly strict.

January 30, 2018


How about, "He who hesitates is lost", or "Fortune favors the bold", or even, "Ya snooze, ya lose". Any of these capture the spirit of the Spanish idiom more than "A watched pot never boils".

February 7, 2018


Those are all about missing opportunities. But the Spanish saying is about the agony of waiting, which is what "A watched pot never boils" is about.

Here's a Spanish site explaining what it means: http://goo.gl/7qYweh

"Alude al sufrimiento que padece quien vive en una esperanza incierta de conseguir lo que desea." (It alludes to the suffering suffered by those who live in an uncertain hope of getting what they want.)

(Update: I forgot to put the http on the URL so it wasn't clickable.)

February 7, 2018


Thanks BarbaraMorris. There's a lot of angst regarding the incorrect interpretation of this one. So, it's always good to see a correct one. For some strange reason, native English speakers seem to think they know more about Spanish sayings than they have any right to. Perhaps, they don't really understand the English sayings either. In any case, a lingot for the extra reference.

February 7, 2018
Learn Spanish in just 5 minutes a day. For free.