When can we use the Spanish idiom “no entender ni papa”?

If you have already heard the expression “no entender ni papa” you might have an idea of the meaning: it is one of the several idioms with food that are extremely common in Spanish. However, using food in idiomatic expressions sometimes means saying something that doesn’t correspond to the real meaning and doesn’t have an equivalent in other languages.

So if you translate this expression you can be a little confused, as “papa” in Spanish means “potato”…but what does it refer to? Are we talking about food or something else?

Let’s see what is the real meaning!

This idiom means “to not understand anything” about something. So, for example, it can be used if someone can’t understand a language or doesn’t know anything about a specific subject, such as economics.

Some examples can help you use it!

Spanish English
Yo no entiendo ni papa de moda. I don’t understand anything about fashion.
Cuando nos hablan en inglés y no entendemos ni papa. When people talk to us in English we don’t understand a word.
No entendía ni papa de lo que se estaba hablando. I didn’t understand anything of what we were talking about.


It’s quite easy, isn’t it? If you want to practise a bit, think of something that you can’t understand at all and make a sentence: it’s a good way to start putting into practice this new expression that you just learnt!

If you are love with Spanish idioms our Pinterest board is perfect to learn more! You can also learn more idioms with food watching this lovely video.

Do you want to take classes? See how to learn Spanish with us!