What do you say in Spanish when someone sneezes?

Saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes is a common courtesy.

It’s thought that this is because Pope Gregory the Great (in the days of the Christian Roman Empire) decreed that all Christians needed to say a blessing to anyone sneezing, as it was seen as a warning sing of the plague. 

But how (on earth!) do you say ‘bless you’ in Spanish?

Well, there are actually a number of different ways …


KEY TAKEAWAYS


These are the most popular ways to say ‘bless you’ in Spanish –

1. Jesús = Jesus (Spain)

2. Salud = Health (Latin America)

3. Salud, dinero y amor = Health, money and love (Latin America)




1 Salud

‘Salud’ means ‘health’ in English, and it’s the most common way to say ‘bless you’ in Latin America.

If you’re wondering if ‘salud’ is what people also say when they toast, well, you’d be right. Latin Americans use this interjection in BOTH instances!

Julián – Entonces, en una hora nos vamos a…¡Achís!

Amelia – ¡Salud! ¿Te sientes resfriado? ¿Quieres que cancelemos el plan?



Julián – So, in an hour we’re going to … Achoo!

Amelia – Bless you! Are you getting a cold? Shall we cancel the plan?

2 Jesús

If you’re visiting Spain, you might hear people say ‘salud’ after a sneeze, but it’s also very common to say ‘Jesús’ or ‘Jesus’!

This, of course, seems less universal than a simple ‘salud’, which applies to anyone regardless of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof), but let’s keep in mind that the history of Spain is intimately linked to Catholicism, and that many popular expressions (both polite and vulgar) come from this tradition.

Anyway, saying ‘Jesús’ after a sneeze has lost most of its religious connotations!

Carmen – ¿Hay polen en el ambiente?

Antonio – ¿Por qué preguntas?

Carmen – ¡Achís! ¡Achís!

Antonio – ¡Jesús! Ya veo por qué.



Carmen – Is there pollen in the air?

Antonio – Why are you asking?

Carmen – Achoo! Achoo!

Antonio – Bless you! Now I understand.

3 Jesús, María y José

Not content with praying to Jesus, people also sometimes call out the name of his earthly parents as well (I mean, better safe than sorry, right?).

Even though this is far more common in Spain, there are still people in Mexico – especially older generations – who use this expression.

Una niña pequeña estornuda

Abuela – ¡Jesús, María y José!

Padre – ¿Cómo se dice, hija?

Nieta – Gracias, abuelita.



A little girl sneezes

Grandma – God bless you!

Father – What do you say, daughter?

Granddaughter – Thank you, Gran.

Erika’s note – ‘Jesús, María y José’ is also used to express surprise or shock, although it’s extremely rare to hear it amongst younger generations.


4 Salud, dinero y amor

If you’d like to take ‘salud’ a little further, like some people in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina, you can also wish for ‘dinero’ (or ‘money’) after a second sneeze and ‘amor’ (or ‘love’) if there’s a third!

Emanuel – ¡Achís!

Gaby – ¡Salud!

Emanuel – ¡Achís!

Gaby – ¡Dinero!

Emanuel – ¡Achís!

Gaby – ¡Amor! ¿Te llevo al doctor?



Emanuel – Achoo!

Gaby – Health!

Emanuel – Achoo!

Gaby – Money!

Emanuel – Ahchoo!

Gaby – Love! Shall I take you to the doctor?

5 Dios te bendiga

The phrase most like the English ‘bless you’ (or ‘God bless you’) in Spanish is actually its literal translation ‘Dios te bendiga’ (or ‘Dios le bendiga’ if you prefer the formal version).

Despite being used across the Spanish-speaking world, it’s nowhere near as common as its English equivalent.

Alguien estornuda en el bus

Pasajero 1 – Dios le bendiga. Traigo pañuelos desechables, ¿quiere?

Pasajero 2 – Muchas gracias…sí se lo acepto.



Someone sneezes on the bus

Passenger 1 – God bless you. I have some tissues; do you want one?

Passenger 2 – Thank you very much … yeah, I’ll take one.

6 Salucita

‘Salucita’ is a made-up diminutive of ‘salud’ and a very cute way to say ‘bless you’ in Mexico –

Un niño pasa junto a un perro que estornuda

Niño – ¡Salucita, Firulais*!



A child walks past a sneezing dog

Boy – Bless you, Fido!

*Erika’s note – ‘Firulais’ is an extremely popular way to refer to dogs in Mexico!


7 Salubridad te recoja (Mexican expression)

Wordplay loving Mexicans couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to create their own colloquial version of ‘salud’!

The similar sounding (well, kinda!) phrase ‘salubridad te recoja’ means ‘may the sanitation (department) pick you up’.

This one’s mostly used between friends and relatives as it basically implies that healthcare workers should remove the offending “sneezer” before they spread whatever germs they may be carrying!

Sobrina – ¡Ah…Achís!

Tío – ¡Salubridad te recoja!

Sobrina – Ay, qué malo eres.



Niece – Ah … Achoo!

Uncle – Someone call the sanitation department!

Niece – Oh, you’re so mean.


Final thoughts

And there you have it, folks!

You now have quite a few options to try out the next time your Spanish-speaking buddies start sneezing. If you’re with Mexican pals, I suggest you throw in a ‘salubridad te recoja’, it’s sure to make them laugh!

Ready to improve your Spanish vocab even more? Well, make sure to check out our list of all the different ways to say expensive’ in Spanish!

¡Hasta pronto!

Rupert's lived in Mexico for nearly a decade and has been working as a Spanish teacher for even longer (over 10 years now, wow!). He specializes in simple (yet effective) explanations and is a veritable grammar-whizz.

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