I know all the words, but it makes no sense. Idiom? Proverb'

  • Posted Aug 1, 2008
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8 Answers



That sentence is taken from an old mexican tv show, "Chespirito", very famous indeed and it is still on air! (personally, I never liked it, it's a very silly program)...the sentence, right!, ok, the sentence doesn't make sense at all, it is like a game word, quite silly as the program itself. One of the characters says "gracias", the other one answers "no hay de que - so no más de papa". It is like "thank you - you're welcome".

  • Aug 1, 2008
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  • kinda like the "Who's on first" bit - deedeegill72 Apr 4, 2014


I'm an English speaker who learned Spanish, and had a Mexican girlfriend who used this sometimes. Here's how I interpret it:

In Spanish, when someone says "Gracias", you respond: "No hay de que", meaning, "it's nothing", or "no problem". This is a play on that response, extending it to say "No hay de queso, no mas de papa" (There's no cheese, only potatoes). It's like saying in English "Exqueeze me? Baking powder?" Instead of "Excuse me? Beg your pardon?" (From Wayne's World).



Actually, I love this phrase. The show may seem silly, but if you can really keep up with what they are saying, you will see great genius in the script and dialogue. That's actually how Roberto Gomez Bolaños got his nick name....He was told that he wrote like Shakespeare, but since Roberto is short in stature...he was nicknamed "Little Shakespeare".....Shakespeare-ito = Chespirito (Mexicanized).

The play on words also refers to the local culture of the street food vendors. If you're gonna buy tacos, gorditas, sopes, tlacoyos, huaraches or anything else....they usually run out of cheese before potatos (since papas are cheap and plentiful) and you are very likely to hear when you make an order....."Perdon...no hay de queso...no mas de papa."

All of the different skits that Chespirito wrote are littered with several Mexicanisms...usually specific to the Mexico city culture.

here is a clip:


  • Aug 24, 2010
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  • jaja! I have just watched the video, it's a bit silly, but it has a certain sense of humor. - maria_k Aug 25, 2010
  • ¡Me encanta! Muy cómico. Entendí casi todo. - sagiia Aug 27, 2010


If you really want to understand this, I'll explain it to you.

When you say "Thank you"="Gracias" the answer is "You're welcome"="No hay de que" to make it funny they add to the word "que" this two letters "so" "que+so"= "cheese"

"NO MÁS DE PAPA" means:

In spanish we use this:

Chocolate cake= torta de chocolate

Chees burger= hamburguesa de queso de que-so

Potato chips= chips de papa de papa

So it means there only cheese....., no potato,,,,,,,. It makes kind of sence in spanish, but it's different in inglish.

No hay de que.....so, sólo hay de papa......

  • Feb 9, 2010
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  • Hola, debe ser "English". - LuisaGomezBa Aug 24, 2010
  • Also, Spanish needs to be capitalized. Es al revés que en español. - LuisaGomezBa Aug 24, 2010


Yes is very silly and to the point of being stupid. If you want to translate it word by word won't make sence cuz its a game of words...
Its like you said, what would mean you're welcome but the play with the words so it sounds like they are saying that but in reallity the are saying there is no cheese only potato .... stupid!!! I know.. but is so famouse in Mexico !!!
I personaly hate the show ...

  • Aug 1, 2008
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This question makes me want to jump up and never come down again. ( disappear that is ) I don't think they are talking cheese and potatoes,but talking cheese and father as in papá ( is cheesy ) not papa, no hay de queso = dad is no more ( no mas de papá )

  • papa and papá sounds pretty different in spanish, the acentuation is a big deal. So when you say papa nobody think of dad. - juluque Feb 9, 2010


To the ones who truly appreciate what Roberto has given us... good for you. He is a genious and to this day we have a show that children can laugh at and parents don't have to worry about the content being inappropriate. To those who hated the show... learn how to write first... maybe then you will appreciate writing. It is not about what you like, but being able to read or watch something that was greatly written and even if you don't like it, give props to the writer. This is what I ask of those who hate it... Go ahead and write your own show, have it go international, and have last on the air for over twenty years... yeah it takes a very good writer to accomplish that.

  • Dec 14, 2010
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Ok guys, there's one very important piece of this puzzle which is wrong in the discussion so far:

The word in the phrase should be "nomás" and not "no más".

"nomás" = slang for "only"

"no más" = "no more"… but in this context you couldn't use it because the sub phrase "no más de papa" ("no more of potato") would be missing a verb to make any sense.

So the game on words is:

"No hay de que" = "welcome"

"No hay de queso, nomás de papa" = "We're out of cheese, we've only got potato left".

The second phrase would be an answer you could get at a street quesadilla stand where they've ran out of cheese for the day. The funny part is (I guess) that once you think somebody has said "welcome" to you, they keep going with some out-of-context nonsense.

This was classical humor by repetition… a phrase that some silly TV character said OVER-AND-OVER-AND-OVER until it became part of popular culture, not only in Mexico, where this comes from, but all over Latin America, where the TV show in question ("Chespirito") has been hugely poplar and has been airing for waaay too many years.

Trivial fact: The bumblebee man from the Simpsons is most likely based on the superhero character from chespirito called "El Chapulín Colorado" (The red cricket).