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I just recently heard this phrase for the first time in a song. I understand that it’s basically saying “the things of life” when translated literally, but I was wondering what the actual intent of this phrase is.

From the direct translation, I assume that it’s similar to English phrases like “Such is life”, or “That’s the way she goes.”

Is this assumption correct?

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    In which song did you hear those words? Context is important. – RubioRic Oct 23 '18 at 10:00
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It is commonly used as an expression for the things you can't change in life or moments in life that you go through, either good or bad. "Así es la vida" is another option which translates to "That's how life is".

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Your assumption is correct, is a way of saying “Such is life” and it is used when something bad has happened to say that someone must accept things the way they are.

You can hear some other "siblings" of this expression, like

Son cosas que pasan

Así es la vida

Es lo que hay

or even

Son gajes del oficio (occupational hazards, like, there are certain bad things that you'll have to deal with)

All these are similar to "shit happens" or "dealt with it", not in the sense that they try to be harsh or mean, but just to convey that that's the way the cookie crumbles.

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    I think that the meaning depends on the song. "Shit happens" or "dealt with it" got a negative nuance. In the song "Son las cosas de la vida" by Carlos Vives "hoy nos vemos otra vez, son las cosas de la vida" is equivalent to "la vida da muchas vueltas" but it doesn't imply that something bad happened. – RubioRic Oct 23 '18 at 5:55
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    I agree. Context seems important in this case. Maybe we should include a link to that song in the question. – Diego Oct 23 '18 at 13:08
  • I think OP should include a link to his specific song or paste the lyrics and then you can improve your answer. – RubioRic Oct 23 '18 at 13:22
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    Parece que no está por la labor de indicar la canción concreta. Así es la vida. – RubioRic Oct 24 '18 at 8:37

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