Laura: “Que maravilla, el banco me acaba de ofrecer un crédito de 10.000€ por ser un cliente buenísimo.”
Victoria: “Ten cuidado Laura, nadie da duros por pesetas, entérate bien de las condiciones de este préstamo.”
Laura: “Wow! The bank just offered me a 10,000€ loan for being such a good client.”
Victoria: “Be careful, Laura. Nothing in life is free. Find out about the conditions of the loan.”
What does it mean?
Spain’s former currency — la peseta — was replaced by the Euro not too long ago. When las pesetas were still in place, a duro colloquially referred to 5 pesetas. So we could literally translate this expression into (American) English as: “nobody gives you a five-dollar coin in exchange for four one-dollar coins.” Today in Spain, we use this expression to say that you should beware of offers that are too good to be true and gifts that seem to ask for nothing in return. When somebody offers you something with unexpectedly good conditions, we say: “nadie da duros por pesetas,” meaning, nobody gives you anything for free; there has to be a catch.
What’s the origin of this expression?
It is a very old and commonly used Spanish proverb. Its origin seems to come from the painter, Rusiñol, who made a bet with his friends that if he went out onto the street screaming “duros a 4 pesetas” that nobody would listen to him. And indeed, nobody paid any attention– people thought that he was either offering counterfeit coins or that he was just fooling them.
Another example for the road:
Ex. “No puede ser que sea tan barato. Nadie da duros a cuatro pesetas.”
Translation: “It can’t be that cheap. There must be a hidden fee somewhere.”