In Spanish the verbal structure "salir(le) algo a alguien" is almost always used in the negative to express that someone can't do something/ doesn't achieve/manage to do something/can't work out something, after having tried for some time.

Here are some examples:

No me sale este problema de matemáticas; es muy difícil.I can't work out this maths question; it's very difficult.

Mi hija lleva todo el día intentando hacer el pino, pero no le sale, pobrecita...My daughter has been trying to do a handstand all day, but she can't, bless her...

- Mamá, ¡este dibujo no me sale! - Cariño, tienes que hacerlo más despacito.- Mum, I can't get this drawing right! - Darling, you have to do it more slowly.

¿No te salen las cuentas? A ver, inténtalo de nuevo.The figures don't add up? [you can't work it out?] OK, let's try again.

Notice that it's normally used with an indirect object pronoun, indicating the person who is struggling to perform this action. In this sense, this structure works the same way as the verb gustar. The verb salir is conjugated for the noun:

No me sale este problema.

No me sale hacer el pino.

No te salen las cuentas.

There are other uses of the verb salir with the indirect object pronoun that have a slightly different meaning but the idea of "not being able to do something" is still there. For example:

Por mucho esfuerzo que hago, no me sale sonreír a los vecinos. Son tan antipáticos...However much I try, I simply can't [it doesn't come naturally for me to] smile at the neighbours. They are so unpleasant...

Salir de alguien [una idea] is also used idiomatically to express that it was someone's idea to do something:

Salió de ellos [la idea de] poner un fondo común para las bebidas de la fiesta.It was their idea to make a kitty/pool the money for the party drinks.

We also use it followed by bien/mal to mean something going well/smoothly or the opposite. For example:

¿Te salió bien el examen o dejaste muchas preguntas sin contestar?Did your exam go well or did you leave lots of questions unanswered?

Mi prueba de conducir me ha salido mal así que creo que he suspendido.My driving test didn't go well so I think I failed.

To say that something turned out well or badly,  or to use a more specific adjective, we can also use this structure:

¡Qué bueno te ha salido el pastel!The cake [you made] has turned out really well!

La ensalada de patatas le ha salido un poco sosa.The potato salad [he/she/you made] has turned out a bit bland.

Esta lavadora nos ha salido malísima. La compramos hace dos años y se ha estropeado dos veces ya.This washing-machine has turned out to be really awful. We bought it two years ago and it's already broken down twice.

Salir is used in lots of idiomatic expressions. Here is a list with some of these expressions:

Expressions with the verb salir

 

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¿No te salen las cuentas? A ver, inténtalo de nuevo.The figures don't add up? [you can't work it out?] OK, let's try again.
Esta lavadora nos ha salido malísima. La compramos hace dos años y se ha estropeado dos veces ya.This washing-machine has turned out to be really awful. We bought it two years ago and it's already broken down twice.
Salió de ellos [la idea de] poner un fondo común para las bebidas de la fiesta.It was their idea to make a kitty/pool the money for the party drinks.
- Mamá, ¡este dibujo no me sale! - Cariño, tienes que hacerlo más despacito.- Mum, I can't get this drawing right! - Darling, you have to do it more slowly.
Mi hija lleva todo el día intentando hacer el pino, pero no le sale, pobrecita...My daughter has been trying to do a handstand all day, but she can't, bless her...
Por mucho esfuerzo que hago, no me sale sonreír a los vecinos. Son tan antipáticos...However much I try, I simply can't [it doesn't come naturally for me to] smile at the neighbours. They are so unpleasant...
No me sale este problema de matemáticas; es muy difícil.I can't work out this maths question; it's very difficult.
La ensalada de patatas le ha salido un poco sosa.The potato salad [he/she/you made] has turned out a bit bland.

¡Qué bueno te ha salido el pastel!The cake [you made] has turned out really well!
Mi prueba de conducir me ha salido mal así que creo que he suspendido.My driving test didn't go well so I think I failed.
¿Te salió bien el examen o dejaste muchas preguntas sin contestar?Did your exam go well or did you leave lots of questions unanswered?
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