What is the function and purpose of sayings?

David Holt
What is the function and purpose of sayings?

The function of the saying is to capture words from popular language and transform them to explain different topics, while its purpose is to express and clarify an idea with representative words, relating to events or characters in everyday life..

For example in the saying "Stubborn as a mule", refers to someone who does not want to see reason (Sayings and their Meanings, n.d.). In short, the function of the saying is to teach and the purpose is to convey.

The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language defines a saying as: “acute and sententious saying in common use " (Spanish, s.f.).

It is a popular and traditional sentence, phrase or proverb that is generally found in the form of a verse and rhyme; which is born by the experiences of the towns and settlers reflecting the culture and way of life.

It is an expression of a few words of a thought, a teaching or an advice that is detached from popular wisdom, pretending to explain life and its circumstances.

A good example of this is the well-known saying "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are", which warns about the influence of friends on the good or bad behavior of human beings (Sayings and their Meanings, n.d.).

The main functions of sayings

To express and transmit ideas, it is necessary to collect words and thoughts that reflect the customs and ways of life of a society, allowing them to be disseminated from generation to generation with functions that add benefits to the human being..

Some of these are:

-Learn, since even the little sayings allow us to think about our behavior, helping us to always learn something and treasure those teachings, such as "To bad weather, good face". Meaning we must be positive.

-Show customs or social traits of a country or region. An example of this is the well-known Argentine saying "Every bug that walks, goes to the grill"; which indicates that everything that walks can be eaten or "When the blanket is short, learn to snuggle"; Philippine saying that shows us that living things adapt to all circumstances.

-It also helps to support parents in their work of guiding and instilling values ​​in their children, as the saying goes "A gift horse does not look at the tooth".

With this, children learn to be grateful, showing a real attitude of satisfaction and joy with gifts.

-Help educators build correct social and educational behavior in students.

For example "Who sleeps a lot, learns little". He says that people who are lazy and don't try hard will rarely achieve anything good.

-Forming moral and religious values. "To God what belongs to God and to Caesar what belongs to Caesar", which means that you have to give each one what corresponds to him.

-Contribute to good manners. "What is learned from the cradle, always lasts". Shows that home teachings are reflected in social behavior.

The saying provides simple solutions to different life situations, for this reason each word must be interpreted and applied to each situation.

The popular origin of sayings makes these phrases more and more related to the colloquial or common register of communication.

For this reason, nowadays announcers, presenters, actors and the media, both written and oral, use them as an integral part of the language..

Themes of interest

Short sayings.

Love sayings.

Rhyming sayings.

Mexican sayings.

Chilean sayings.


  1. Academy. (s.f.). Obtained from Academia.edu.
  2. Cervantes Virtual Center. (s.f.). Obtained from cvc.cervantes.es.
  3. Dictionary. (s.f.). Retrieved from dictionary.com.
  4. Española, R. A. (s.f.). RAE. Obtained from rae.es.
  5. Española, R. A. (s.f.). Royal Spanish Academy. Obtained from dle.rae.es.
  6. The Most Daily. (2016). Obtained from lomasdiario.com.
  7. Sayings and their Meanings. (s.f.). Obtained from refranesysusignificado.net.

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