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“Ser una tumba”, “a tumba abierta” and “cavar tu propia tumba”

We don’t usually talk about graves (‘tumbas’) until All Saints’ Day arrives. Before, during or after. A ‘tumba’ (‘grave’) – according to RAE- is the place where a corpse is buried. Thus, it’s easily understood that the verbal phrase “ser una tumba” is jealously guarding a secret, as the dictionary correctly collects, because the graves are sealed. But just arrived from Central Europe with a good level of Spanish when you thought you were going to make a confession you said: “voy a ser una tumba abierta”. And then whoever was talking to you kept a sudden silence and changed the conversation. Of course! “hablar a tumba a abierta” means to speak without reservations, that is, to speak without keeping information, or to speak without going through ambiguity or rhetoric. In real life, friendship and loyalty between people requires both locutions: “ser una tumba” or “hablar a tumba abierta”. On the other hand, “ir a tumba abierta” is giving everything, sometimes, like cyclists, with “speed and risk”, but “cavar tu tumba” or “cavar tu propia tumba” means losing, propitiating the fall, or fall into disgrace for a host of reasons. In this post, you will find 15 phrases to differentiate locutions that we made with the word ‘tumba’:


“A tumba abierta” (“to speak openly”)

Tienes que hablar a tumba abierta y llegar a un acuerdo. (You have to speak openly and reach an agreement.)

Son unas memorias narradas a tumba abierta. (They are memories narrated openly /without reserve.)

No comparto que la gente hable a tumba abierta de sus sentimientos. (I don’t share people speak openly about their feelings.)

Lo que te voy a contar es a tumba abierta. (What I am going to tell you is speaking openly.)

El pelotón se lanzó a tumba abierta en la última etapa. (The pack of cyclists were riding at high speed in the last stage.)

“Ser una tumba” (“to keep one’s mouth shut”)

Puedes confiar en él porque es una tumba. (You can trust on him because he keeps his mouth shut.)

Seré una tumba, no te preocupes. (Don’t worry, I’ll keep my mouth shut.)

Solo te lo cuento si después eres como una tumba: tú no sabes nada. (I only tell you if you keep your mouth shut: You know nothing.)

Cuando quieres eres una tumba… (When you want, you keep your mouth shut.)

Seré una tumba lo prometo… (I’ll keep my mouth shut, I promise this…)

“Cavar tu tumba” (“to dig one’s own grave”)

Me niego a cavar mi propia tumba. (I refuse to dig my own grave.)

¡Vas a cavar tu propia tumba! (You are going to dig your own grave!)

Si sigues por ahí, te arriesgas a cavar tu propia tumba. (If you go along this way, you take a risk digging your own grave.)

El solito cavó su propia tumba. (Just he dug his own grave.)

¿Quién cavó la tumba de Juan? (Who dug Juan’s grave?)

Pía Valls / Practica Español

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