To get information in Spanish place the arrow of your mouse on the highlighted words without clicking.
Para obtener información en español acerca la flecha de tu ratón a las palabras o frases resaltadas.


Source: Voice of America


Now, "Words and Their Stories", a VOA Special English program about American expressions. I’m Rich Kleinfeldt with expressions made using the word HOLD.

made using: creadas, producidas utilizando; hold: sujetar, contener, poseer, etc.;


Can’t hold a candle to is a popular expression. It is from the time before electricity, when people used candles for light. Someone who lived in a big house would have a servant light his way by holding a candle. The expression meant that the person who cannot hold a candle to you is not fit even to be your servant. Now, it means such a person cannot compare or compete.

can't hold a candle to: no se puede comparar con (literalmente = no sirve ni para sostener una vela); used candles: utilizaban velas; light: luz, iluminación; would have a servant: tenía un criado (para); light his way: iluminar su camino; by holding: sosteniendo; meant: significaba; is not fit even to be: no está preparada ni siquiera para ser; cannot compare or compete: no puede compararse ni competir;


In the following song, singer Dolly Parton tells her new love that her old flames, her old lovers, cannot compare with him.

Old flames can't
hold a candle to you
No one can light up
the night like you do

Antiguos amores no pueden
compararse contigo
Nadie puede iluminar la noche
como tú lo haces

tells her new love: le dice a su nuevo enamorado; old flames: antiguos amores;


Another expression is hold your tongue”. It means to be still and not talk.  “Hold your tongue” is not something you would tell a friend. But a parent or teacher might use the expression to quiet a noisy child.

hold your tongue: muérdete la lengua; to be still: quedarse quieto; and not talk: y sin hablar; you would tell: que le dirías a; might use: podrían usar; to quiet: para silenciar; a noisy child: una criatura alborotadora, ruidosa;


Hold out is an expression one hears often in sports reports and labor news. It means to refuse to play or work. Professional football and baseball players hold out if their team refuses to pay them what they think they are worth. Members of labor unions hold out and refuse to work until they get the work agreement they want.

sports reports: informes deportivos; labor news: noticias sindicales; to refuse: negarse a; hold out: se resisten; if their team: si su equipo; what they think they are worth: lo que ellos piensan que valen; members: los afiliados; labor unions: gremios, sindicatos obreros; until they get: hasta conseguir; agreement: convenio;



The expression hold up has several different meanings. One is a robbery. A man with a gun may say, “This is a hold up. Give me your money.” Another meaning is to delay. A driver late for work may tell his boss, “I was held up by heavy traffic.” Someone who was robbed on the way to work might say, “Sorry, boss, I was held up by a hold up.”

several: varios; robbery: asalto, atraco, robo; with a gun: con arma de fuego; this is a hold up: esto es un asalto; to delay: demorar/se; a driver late for work: un conductor a quien se le hace tarde para su trabajo; may tell his boss: puede decirle a su jefe/a; I was held up: Me demoré; heavy traffic: tráfico pesado, intenso; who was robbed: que fue asaltado; on the way to: viajando hacia; might say: podría comentar; I was held up by a hold up: Me demoré por un asalto;


Still another meaning of the expression is for a story to be considered true after an investigation. The same driver late for work could say, “My boss did not believe a hold up held me up. But the police confirmed what I said so my story held up.”

still: aún así; meaning: significado; is for a story: sirve para que una historia; to be considered true: sea considerada como genuina; could say: podría decir; did not believe: no creyó (que); a hold up held me up: un asalto me detuvo (me imposibilitó continuar viaje); confirmed what I said: confirmó lo que dije; so my story held up: de modo que mi historia fue avalada (encontró sustento);


Hold on is another expression. Often it means wait or stop. As you leave for school, your brother may say, “Hold on, you forgot your book.”

hold on: detenerse; hold on!: no te vayas; you forgot: olvidaste;


Hold on is used to ask a telephone caller to wait and not hang up his telephone. If you call a library to ask for a book, the librarian might say, “Hold on while I look for it.”

hold on: siga esperando (teéfono); telephone caller: persona que llama por teléfono; hang up: colgar el teléfono; library: biblioteca pública (edificio) (bookcase: mueble biblioteca); to ask for: para solicitar; librarian: bibliotecario/a; hold on while: manténgase en la línea mientras; I look for it: lo busco;


Our final expression is hold the line.” That means to keep a problem or situation from getting worse, to hold steady. For example, the president may say he will hold the line on taxes. He means there will be no increase in taxes. Now, I must hold the line on this program. I have no more time left today.

hold the line: mantener la posición (literalmente = no cortar la comunicación , permanecer en la línea); to keep X situation from getting worse: hacer que una situación X no empeore; to hold steady: mantenerse firme; may say: puede decir; on taxes: con respecto a los impuestos; there will be no increase in: no habrá aumento de; I have no more time left today: hoy no me queda más tiempo.


This VOA Special English program, "Words and Their Stories", was written by Frank Beardsley. I’m Rich Kleinfeldt.