We Spanish-speakers have a saying that we learn or gain experience when we mess up things: "echando a perder se aprende", that can be translated literally as: "you learn by messing up things".

For example, I disarm my fan just for curiosity and by taking one specific piece it doesn't work anymore; then I have new knowledge about fans: they need that piece to work correctly.

It's kinda like "learn from our mistakes", but on cases that the mistakes were kinda intentional or expected because we tried to do something we didn't have knowledge about.

Do you have any existing recurrent phrases or saying for that?

  • 'Trial and error' is a generally accepted phrase for this phenomenon.......'Through a process of trial and error, Thomas Edison discovered the perfect material for the electric light filament.' Jun 26, 2020 at 22:09
  • @BruceMurray I guess it works; not on the context that I was looking for, but is usefull Jun 26, 2020 at 23:02

2 Answers 2


I would say: You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. See this Wiktionary definition:

In order to achieve something, it is inevitable and necessary that some mistakes are made or some sacrifices must occur.

  • That's right, I didn't consider that one. That is commonly used in Spanish too, but I didn't consider its translation Jun 26, 2020 at 23:05

There are many different expressions that can be used depending on context, but if you didn't want too many additional connotations, I would use "trial and error".



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