Many idioms and common phrases exist in a two-part structure. Generally, this is:

  1. Hypothetical situation,
  2. Advised action or declarative phrase

An easy way to create double entenderes is as thus:

  1. Add “por arriba” [above/from above] at the end of part 1,
  2. Add “por abajo” [below/from below] at the end of part 2

Why, then, mention Spanish? Of course, this silly joke can also work in English—and I suspect in most languages indeed—but you need to adapt the phrases “por arriba/abajo” a bit, and that of course means you need to analyze each and every idiom to find the best joke.1 These two simple phrases add a layer of silliness without putting much thought to it.

My recommendation: use this as a simple ice-breaker non-game. Drop this fact and invite your adult companions to join in the fun with whatever common phrases and idioms they know or remember. Pairs well with tipsy partygoers and everyone willing to have a juvenile laugh.

A few examples, sampled from Pérez-Martínez (2002):

  • Dios tarda por arriba pero no olvida por abajo2
  • Mientras haya vida por arriba hay esperanza por abajo3
  • Pide consejo por arriba y llegarás a viejo por abajo4

References and Bibliography

Pérez-Martínez, H. (2002). Los refranes del hablar mexicano en el siglo XX. El Colegio de Michoacán Consejo Nacional para la Cultural y las Artes, Dirección General de Publicaciones.
  1. And even then, there’s several wordings that could be applied in English. Idiomatically, you could even use “upstairs/downstairs” or “up there/down there” to achieve the same effect in English.

  2. God takes his time above but doesn’t forget below.

  3. As long as there’s life above there’s hope below.

  4. Ask for advice up there and you’ll make it to old age down there.


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