Understanding the Spanish Idiom: "cerrar la marcha" - Meaning, Origins, and Usage

Idiom language: Spanish

The Spanish language is rich with idiomatic expressions that are unique to its culture. One such expression is cerrar la marcha, which translates to “close the march” in English. This idiom has a figurative meaning that goes beyond its literal translation, and it’s important for anyone learning Spanish to understand its usage.

The Meaning of “cerrar la marcha”

At its core, cerrar la marcha refers to being the last person or thing in a group. It can be used in a variety of contexts, from marching soldiers to groups of friends walking down the street. However, when used as an idiom, it takes on a more metaphorical meaning.

In this context, cerrar la marcha means taking up the rear or being responsible for bringing up the end of something. For example, if you’re participating in a group project at work and someone says they’ll “cerrar la marcha,” they’re essentially saying they’ll take care of any loose ends or make sure everything is wrapped up before moving on.

The Importance of Understanding Idioms

Idiomatic expressions like cerrar la marcha are an integral part of any language because they provide insight into cultural norms and values. They also add depth and nuance to communication by allowing speakers to convey complex ideas with just a few words.

However, understanding idioms can be challenging for non-native speakers since their meanings often go beyond literal translations. That’s why it’s essential to study idiomatic expressions like cerrar la marcha in context so you can grasp their full significance.

Origins and Historical Context of the Spanish Idiom “cerrar la marcha”

The phrase cerrar la marcha is a commonly used idiom in the Spanish language, but its origins and historical context are not widely known. This expression has been passed down through generations and has become an integral part of the Spanish culture.

The origin of this phrase can be traced back to military tactics used during battles. In ancient times, soldiers marched in formation towards their enemies with a specific order. The strongest soldiers were placed at the front lines while weaker ones were positioned at the rear. When it was time to retreat, the strongest soldiers would move back first while weaker ones closed off the line.

Over time, this practice became a metaphor for other situations where someone takes on the responsibility of being last in line or finishing a task. Thus, cerrar la marcha came to mean being responsible for bringing up the rear or completing something after everyone else had finished.

Today, this idiom is often used in social contexts as well. For example, if a group of friends goes out together and one person stays behind to pay for everyone’s bill or make sure everything is settled before leaving, they might say that person cerro la marcha.

Usage and Variations of the Spanish Idiom “cerrar la marcha”

The idiom cerrar la marcha is a commonly used expression in the Spanish language. It refers to the act of being the last person or thing in a group, procession, or event. This idiom has various applications and interpretations depending on the context it is used in.

Variation Meaning
Cerrar la marcha en una procesión religiosa To be the last person in a religious procession carrying an image or statue of a saint.
Cerrar la marcha en una carrera To finish last in a race.
Cerrar la marcha en un grupo de amigos To be the last one leaving after spending time with friends.
Cerrar la marcha en un debate político To give closing remarks at the end of a political debate.
Cerrar la marcha de un proyecto empresarial To finalize and wrap up all aspects of a business project before its completion.

Synonyms, Antonyms, and Cultural Insights for the Spanish Idiom “cerrar la marcha”


Some possible synonyms for cerrar la marcha include:

  • Concluir una actividad (to conclude an activity)
  • Finalizar algo (to finish something)
  • Cerrar el evento (to close the event)


On the other hand, some antonyms for cerrar la marcha might be:

  • Iniciar una actividad (to start an activity)
  • Abrir el evento (to open the event)
  • Comenzar algo nuevo (to begin something new)

Culturally speaking, cerrar la marcha is often associated with military parades or processions. It refers to being at the end of a line or formation. However, in everyday conversation, it can simply mean finishing up an activity or being the last one to leave a party.

Practical Exercises for the Spanish Idiom “cerrar la marcha”

In order to fully grasp the meaning and usage of the Spanish idiom cerrar la marcha, it is important to practice using it in various contexts. Below are some practical exercises that will help you become more familiar with this expression.

Exercise 1: Imagine you are at a party with your friends. One of your friends suggests leaving, but there are still a few people who haven’t finished their drinks yet. Use the idiom cerrar la marcha to suggest waiting for everyone before leaving.

Exercise 2: You are part of a team working on a project, and there is one member who always seems to be falling behind. Use the idiom cerrar la marcha to suggest that everyone slows down and waits for this person to catch up.

Exercise 3: You are organizing a group hike, but there is one member who isn’t very experienced and might have trouble keeping up. Use the idiom cerrar la marcha to assign someone as the designated person at the back of the group, responsible for making sure no one gets left behind.

Exercise 4: You’re at a concert with your friends, but one of them has had too much to drink and needs help getting home safely. Use the idiom cerrar la marcha to suggest that everyone walks together as a group until this friend gets home safely.

The more you practice using cerrar la marcha in different situations, the more natural it will feel when you encounter it in conversation or use it yourself!

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using the Spanish Idiom “cerrar la marcha”

When it comes to using idioms in a foreign language, it’s easy to make mistakes. The Spanish idiom cerrar la marcha is no exception. This expression has a specific meaning that can be easily misunderstood if not used correctly.

One common mistake when using cerrar la marcha is to assume that it simply means “to close something.” While this translation is technically correct, it doesn’t capture the full meaning of the idiom. In Spanish, “cerrar la marcha” refers specifically to being the last person or group in a procession or parade.

Another mistake is to use cerrar la marcha in situations where it doesn’t apply. For example, saying “I closed the meeting with some final remarks” would not be an appropriate use of this idiom. Instead, you could say something like “Terminé la reunión con algunas observaciones finales.”

It’s also important to note that cerrar la marcha is typically used in formal or ceremonial contexts. Using this expression casually could come across as odd or inappropriate.

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