When you take Spanish lessons online because you want to learn Spanish, it’s normal to make mistakes when speaking Spanish. This happens at all levels, and especially when you are a beginner in Spanish. There are all kinds of errors. Some are easy to avoid; others are related to Spanish verb tenses, or unknown Spanish vocabulary, or structures of Spanish phrases. There are also mistakes you make only once, because they are funny and you and your Spanish speaking audience had a good laugh about it.
But there are also mistakes in Spanish, that are very persistent and made by many Spanish students learning Spanish online. Yes, it’s true: many people make precisely the same mistakes when learning Spanish. So here’s something going on! It’s not you 🙂 Let’s look into those mistakes in Spanish more in detail. Because those are the common Spanish mistakes you don’t want to make when speaking Spanish.
Just for fun: do a self-assessment and see how many of these common errors YOU make.
Common Spanish mistakes you want to avoid when speaking Spanish.
1. Mistakes in Spanish with gender: “Una día bonita” ↔ “Un día bonito”
Using the wrong gender is a mistake made by many students learning Spanish. It happens especially if the words don’t follow the basic rule “words ending in –o are masculine and words ending in –a are feminine”.
If you get the gender of the noun (un día) wrong, you will also be mistaken in the articles and adjectives going with it. This is a problem that can be fixed with more practise speaking Spanish.
Three other common gender mistakes are:
El foto > CORRECT: La foto as the full word is ‘fotografía’
Una problema > CORRECT: Un problema (words ending in –a are generally feminine but words
ending in –ma are generally masculine)
El mano > CORRECT: la mano. (although the words end in –o, it’s feminine.)
‘El problema’ and ‘el mapa’ son both masculine words, even though the end on ‘a’.
To remember, check these two songs that can help you to overcome the wrong use of gender with those Spanish words:
El mapa by Dora the Exploradora
El problema by Ricardo Arjano.
2. Classic and funny mistake in Spanish: “Estoy caliente” ↔ “Tengo calor”
This is one of the ‘funny mistakes’. It’s a common mistake in Spanish that many Spanish language learners make at a certain moment. Be carefull: if you’re hot (because it’s warm), you definitely want to say ‘tengo calor’ ; ‘estoy caliente’ means that you are horny.
3. Classic mistake with the Spanish verbs ‘ser’ y ‘estar’: “Soy aburrido” ↔ “Estoy aburrido”
‘How you feel and where you are, that is when you use estar’ is a little rhyme that can help you to avoid making this mistake in Spanish. If you feel bored right now and you want to say ‘I’m bored’ you have to use the verb estar and say ‘Estoy aburrido’.
If you say ‘Soy aburrido’, you are saying that you are a boring person in general (I am boring) and we guess you don’t want to say that! Also don’t forget that women should say aburrida instead of aburrido.
4. Over-use of pronouns in Spanish.
While not technically incorrect, hearing them consistently while speaking in Spanish could sound a bit weird. Remember: in Spanish, you do not have to put the pronouns in every sentence. Tengo is enough to say “I have”, there is no need to include ‘yo’ (I) as in ‘yo tengo’.
In Spanish, you only use the pronouns when you want to put emphasis on the pronoun.
Tú tienes mucho tiempo, pero yo no. (I do have a lot of time, but I don’t).
Remember that there is technically no need to include the pronouns as every pronoun has a specific verb tense congutation. Therefor, it will always be clear who’s taking the action in each Spanish phrases, even when you do not include the pronoun.
5. How to you say ‘All right’ in Spanish → “Es bien” ↔ “Está bien”
Another mistake made a lot with ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ is when people want to say ‘All right’.
You have to use ‘estar’ so you have to say ‘está bien’ and not ‘es bien’.
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6. Expressions with age in Spanish: tener o ser? “Soy 24 años” ↔ “Tengo 24 años”
In Spanish, we use the verb ‘tener’ which means ‘to have’ when talking about age.
So in Spanish you say ‘Tengo 24 años’ which literally means ‘ I have 24 years’, while in English we use the verb ‘to be” when talking about age: ‘I am 24 years old’.
Hence the common mistake by both English and Spanish speakers when talking in the other language.
Watch out to not make the same mistake with these phrases:
|TENER in Spanish||TO BE in English|
|Tener cuidado||to be careful|
|Tener calor||to be hot|
|Tener frío||to be cold|
|Tener hambre||to be hungry|
|Tener miedo||to be afraid|
|Tener prisa||to be in a hurry|
|Tener razón||to be right|
|Tener sed||to be thirsty|
|Tener suerte||to be lucky|
|Tener sueño||to be sleepy|
7. Classic mistake in Spanish by non-Spanish speakers: “No problemo” ↔ “No hay problema”
This is a classic mistake! It sounds so Spanish but… it’s not. To start with: ‘problemo’ is not a Spanish word, it’s problema with an a.
If you want to say ‘No problem’, you will say ‘No hay problema’.
P.D. Note that it is ‘un problema’, so despite the word ending in an –a, it is a masculine word. Not la problema, but: el problema.
8. Error in Spanish with plurar: “La gente son amable” ↔ “La gente es amable”
In English the word ‘people’ is a collective noun used with verbs in the third person plural. So you say ‘The people are kind’. But the Spanish word for people, ‘gente’ is singular which is a very strange concept for English speaking people. Another example is ‘La gente tiene sed’ in singular in Spanish which means ‘The people are thirsty’ in plural in English.
9. Error in Spanish with the verb gustar: “Me gusto el libro” ↔ “Me gusta el libro”
If you like something, you do not say ‘me gusto’ (as if you were conjugating the verb in first person) but you do say: ‘me gusta’. If you say ‘me gusto’, you literally say ‘I am pleasing to myself’. The most literal translation of “Me gusta” – although we mostly use I like as the translation – is: it pleases me.
When you understand this, you made a big step learning Spanish (online). One more small but crucial thing. The thing you like, manages the verb. Therefore, it is:
Me gusta el libro
Me gustan los libros.
Those are the two only conjugations of the verb ‘gustar’ in the present tense: gusta y gustan.
This makes gustar, what we call a special verb.
The same goes for the verb doler (me duele = it hurts (to me)) and a few others.
10. Mistake related to Spanish grammar: “Vi mi tío” ↔ “Vi a mi tío”
The personal ‘a’ is a really weird word for English speakers learning Spanish, as it wouldn’t serve any purpose in English.
In Spanish, you have to place an ‘a’ before the person when the person is the object of the sentence. So in English, ‘I saw my uncle’ is: ‘Vi a mi tío’ instead of the literally ‘Vi mi tío’.
11. Mistake related to the used of undefined articles: “Es un profesor” ↔ “Es profesor”
When stating occupations in Spanish, do not use the indefinite article (un or una). You just use the verb ‘ser’ (to be) and the occupation.
Sentences describing people’s occupations will look like this:
‘Soy abogado’ which means I am a lawyer
‘Eres electricista’ which means you are an electrician
‘Es científico’ which means he is a scientist.
12. How to use the adjective in Spanish? “Tengo un rojo jersey” ↔ “Tengo un jersey rojo”
In Spanish, the adjectives come (almost always) after the noun. So you say ‘un niño amable’, un espacio tranquilo’ and ‘un libro cerrado’.
In English, the adjectives come before the noun, so it is ‘a kind kid’, ‘a quiet space’ and ‘a closed book’.
P.D. Be aware that there are some exceptions in Spanish, which we will not mention here now.
13. The use of double negatives in Spanish: “No dije algo” ↔ “No dije nada”
In Spanish, it is normal to use double negatives, while in English it would be seen as poor grammar.
If you say in English ‘I didn’t say anything’, you translate it into Spanish as ‘No dije nada’.
This, instead of: no dije algo (algo = anything or something; nada = nothing).
The negative words nada (nothing), tampoco (neither), nunca (never), nadie (nobody), ningún/ninguna (none), always go after the verb, with ‘no’ before the verb.
With the positive verbs, you will use the positive equivalencies: algo (something), también (also), siempre (always), alguien (somebody), algún/alguna (some/something).
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14. Use of capital letters in Spanish: “Mi cumpleaños es en Marzo” ↔ “Mi cumpleaños es en marzo”
There are fewer words capitalized in Spanish than in English. Words that are capitalized are names of people (Maria), names of places (La Paz, Bolivia), names of newspapers and magazines (El País) and the first word of titles of movies/books/ etc.
The days of the week (lunes, martes, …),months of the year (enero, febrero,…), languages (ingles, español,…), nationality (peruano, colombiano, …) and relegions (muselmán, católico, …) are not capitalized in Spanish.
15. Common mistake in Spanish with prepositions: “Estoy enamorado contigo” ↔ “Estoy enamorado de ti”
So many people taking Spanish lessons say “estoy enamorado con …’’’. But the preposition is different in Spanish! You cannot translate the prepositions from your own language directly into Spanish, because it will not always be the correct preposition. Instead, you better learn the entire lexical expression, so you avoid using the wrong preposition.
A few examples:
You can count on me > Puedes contar conmigo
to count on = Contar con
Stop doing this > Deja de hacer esto.
to stop = dejar de.
It depends on you = depende de ti
depend on = depender de
16. When to use ‘por’ y ‘para’ in Spanish: “Gracias para todo” ↔ “Gracias por todo”
This is another very classic mistake. Many people made this mistake all the time when learning Spanish. Let’s be honest, the difference between the use of ‘por’ and ‘para’ is indeed challenging.
But today you will learn that it is ‘Gracias por todo’ if you want to say ‘Thank you for everything.’ Now you will never make this mistake again.
Read more about learning Spanish (Online):
10 Spanish words that do not exist in English
Spanish Idioms to boast your speaking skills
Learn Spanish Online: one of the best ways to learn Spanish fast