Here’s a broad generalization that I have little support for: It takes more words to say some things in Spanish than in English. Of course the reverse is true too as well, which is the beauty of speaking in broad generalizations. But I do have some examples. For one, I was looking for a word in my Spanish/English dictionary the other night when “no-win situation” caught my eye. The translation offered was “sitación en la que se haga lo que sa haga se sale perdiendo.” Perhaps there is a better way to say it that the dictionary isn’t familiar with. I move on to exhibit two, “ice rink,” which the dictionary translates as “pista de patinaje sobre hielo.”
You should keep in mind that these are dictionary matters, and despite your first instincts, you really shouldn’t trust foreign language dictionaries much. I move, however, to my third and final example, which is taken from the real world. While waiting in the Santiago metro, I saw the following warning on the ground: Ten precaución con la separación entre el tren y el andén.
What the Santiago metro does in 11 words the London underground does in three: Mind the gap.