Some of the mistakes you will make in Spanish will be because you doing a direct translation from English to Spanish … sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Other times, there are tricky rules or irregular vocabulary that are common pitfalls. Remember that the only way to learn and improve your Spanish is by making lots of mistakes and learning from them. You will find below 5 classic Spanish mistakes made by English speakers for various reasons. You can try to remember not to make them, but if you do you can smile and know that you’re not alone!
1. Tienes divertido!!
It’s very common for English speakers to tell each other to “Have fun!”. This idea does not in fact translate to “Tienes divertido!”. WRONG. If you want to tell someone to have fun and enjoy their weekend you would say “pásalo bien” which literally means “pass it well”.
2. Actually …
“Actualmente, me gusta mucho la película.” NO!! In English, we like to add the word “actually” in front of our sentences. Don’t try to do it in Spanish. It’s not the same word. “Actualmente” means more like “in today’s day”. For example: “Actualmente, los jóvenes compran música en Internet“.
3. He ponido
WRONG WRONG WRONG – He puesto! It’s irregular. But you will make this mistake and say he ponido for “I put” when trying to conjugate the verb poner because we almost all do at some point. Maybe this is because the past participle of poder is “podido” and they just seem so close. But remember this is irregular in the past participle. Others similar irregulars to look out for:
DECIR (to say): dicho not decido;
VOLVER (to return): vuelto not volvido;
ABRIR (to open): abierto not abrido
4. ¿Qué tal? … Nada
Although everbody told you that “qué tal” means “what’s up” in Spanish, the correct response to this question is not “nada” (nothing). The question is more similar to “how are you”, and thus the correct response is “bien” (good).
5. No “dobble lettras”
“I need” in Spanish is not written as “yo necessito“. In Spanish there are no double consonants except for these 4 exceptions:
- c as in “acción”
- r for a rolling effect as in as in “perro“
- l as in “llamo“
- and n as in “innovar” (though double n is much less common)
You can use the name “caroline” to help you remember Spanish spelling rules and that only these consonants can be doubled in Spanish: c-r-l-n-. And that’s it. No double “p“s, no double “t“s, no double “m“s and definitely no double “s“!
These are just some of the common mistakes you may hear by English speakers. Rest assured there are many more. But don’t worry, if you’re making mistakes it’s a good sign, because that means you’re learning the language. And the only way to do that is to make plenty of mistakes!
For some more common mistakes in Spanish, check out these 10 False Friends to watch out for.