If you’re in a Spanish-speaking country and you find yourself needing a doctor, one of the skills you’re going to need is body parts vocabulary in Spanish.
Body parts in Spanish are also handy in other situations, such as buying clothes from a retailer or visiting the dentist.
For this reason, you’ll have to revisit them from time to time, until you know them well.
So, if you need a helping hand in revising the parts of the body, here’s where you’ll get the information you need.
Keep reading to back up your understanding of Spanish body parts.
How do we say ‘the body’ in Spanish?
If you want to say ‘the body’ in Spanish, the phrase you’re searching for is el cuerpo. This phrase is masculine and singular.
You might find yourself needing to pluralise this phrase if you wanted to say ‘the bodies’.
In this case, the phrase is still masculine, but it takes the plural form los cuerpos.
What are the main body parts in Spanish?
Before we get into any grammar, and we will do further down in this article, these are the main body parts in Spanish that you should know:
|Spine||La columna vertebral|
|Toe||El dedo del pie|
Masculine and feminine articles for Spanish body parts
What you’ll have to remember when learning the Spanish body parts is that they are partnered with masculine and feminine articles.
In English, to identify every body part, we would use the article ‘the’.
However, in Spanish don’t forget that the body parts are identified as either el or la.
One tip to help you remember (most) of the articles for each body part is to learn them as a pair.
It’s no use just remembering the sustantivo alone.
You’re going to have to avoid using Google translate and relying on the translation given there because the translation provided in the main panel, doesn’t provide the masculine or feminine article.
If the body part ends in an -a its partner is likely a feminine article la. If it ends in an -o it’s likely to be partnered with a masculine article el.
But there are exceptions to this rule — such as la mano, so watch out!
How to say ‘something hurts’ in Spanish
Most of the time, if our bodies are harmed in any way, we would notice a pain in the particular body part that has been damaged.
In cases like these, we would need to say ‘it hurts’.
To say this in Spanish, we would use the phrase me duele.
For example, if you want to say your knee hurts, you would say:
Me duele la rodilla.
This applies to all body parts.
However, say you take someone to the doctor and need to tell them that their knee hurts, you would need to change the reflexive pronoun me to le.
So, this sentence would become:
Le duele la rodilla.
If you take all your kids to the doctor, and they all of their knees hurt, you’ll need to substitute the reflexive pronoun le to the plural reflexive pronoun les.
Les duelen las rodillas.
If your head is hurting, on the other hand, me duele can be used to describe this to a doctor, but you can also use a different phrase.
This phrase is tengo dolor de cabeza.
There’s not much difference between these two, though.
Me duele la cabeza means my head hurts, whereas tengo dolor de cabeza means ‘I have a headache’.
But what if your son has a headache that has lasted for a couple of days?
In this case, you would substitute the verb tengo and replace it with the newly conjugated verb tiene.
The sentence would become:
Tiene dolor de cabeza.
When to use a possessive adjective to identify body parts
There are, however, times where you’ll need to use a possessive adjective to identify body parts.
This is typically when you want to pinpoint one person’s body part and there are several people in the room.
Possessive adjectives in this situation help the speaker to avoid confusion.
So, say you wanted to tell the doctor that one of your kids broke their knee and you tried to help them, to describe the situation clearly, you would say
Cuando toque su rodilla con mi mano, le dolió mas. Estaba roto.
Using possessive adjectives, in this case, helps the doctor know that you used your hand to touch the knee.
This wouldn’t be clear with the article alone.
Idioms to listen out for that use Spanish body parts
There are plenty of idiomatic expressions and phrases that use Spanish body parts in the Spanish language.
These phrases shouldn’t be taken in terms of their literal translation.
Just like some of the English idioms — like ‘get off my back’, or ‘a sight for sore eyes’ Spanish idioms is wide ranging.
Here are a few examples of idioms that use Spanish body parts:
Idiom: No tener pelos en la lengua
Literal translation: to not have hairs on the tongue
Meaning: to say what is on your mind without filtering
Ella habla sin pensar en otros. Es como si no tuviera pelos en la lengua.
Idiom: Tener la cara dura
Literal translation: to have the face hard/a hard face
Meaning: to have no shame
Jaime está siempre pidiendo dinero cuando ya tiene suficiente. Tiene la cara dura.
Idiom: Estar hasta narices
Literal translation: to be up to the nose
Meaning: to be frustrated or fed up with something/someone
No estoy feliz con los niños. Es por ellos que la casa está desordenada. Estoy hasta la nariz
Idiom: Tomar el pelo
Literal translation: to take the hair
Meaning: to make fun of someone or pull their leg
No sabia que habías ganado una medalla en los juegos olímpicos. ¿Estas tomándome el pelo?
Idiom: Echar una mano
Literal translation: to lay a hand
Meaning: to help someone out or give someone a hand
Vale, los niños están fuera de control. Te echaré una mano.
How to memorize Spanish body parts
Try using flashcards to help you remember your Spanish body parts.
If you choose to design them yourself, on one side of the card you could have an image of the body part. On the other side of the card, write the name of the body part in Spanish.
Even better - there are some body parts decks on Memrise worth checking out.
The other way might seem juvenile… but when you’re just beginning to learn at A1 level, songs and nursery rhymes can help you remember new vocabulary.
I recommend the song head shoulders knees and toes in Spanish (of course)! 😊
Now, this song won’t teach you every body part. That’s why flashcards are your backup.
But it’s a good way to get started.
As a separate note, there are other reasons that you might want to learn the Spanish names for body parts.
For example, if you’re a medical professional and want to learn Spanish to communicate with Spanish speakers, take a look at my list of Spanish resources for medical professionals.
Some of the resources I’ve included will give you translations for each body part and show them on diagrams.
I know that memorizing all of the Spanish body parts isn’t easy, but with the vast number of resources available to you, you’ll soon start to remember them.
Want to share any other tips for remembering the parts of the body in Spanish?
Add them to the comments just below!