SHARE
COPY LINK
For members

SPANISH LANGUAGE

Ten Spanish mistakes even Spaniards make

Frustrated with your Spanish? Don't sweat it: Even native speakers sometimes make mistakes. Here we list some of the most common ones - all in the name of making you feel better about yourself of course.

Ten Spanish mistakes even Spaniards make
10 mistakes even Spanish people make. Photo: Ketut Subiyanto / Pexels

It turns out English speakers don’t have a monopoly on mangling their language. Spanish speakers pepper their speech and writing with errors too.

A book published by Spain’s Cervantes Institute – Las 500 dudas más frecuentes del español – tackles the 500 thorniest issues faced by native speakers of Spanish.

From spellings, kiosco or quiosco? (you’ll see both) – to accents – porque or porqué? (the second is a noun meaning ‘reason’ or ‘motive’) – this article will help you clear up your doubts about the language.

But basta (or should that be vasta?) with all the small talk. Let’s get on with it.

¿Te escucho mal o te oigo mal?

I’m listening to you badly (‘te escucho mal‘) may sound horribly wrong in English but in Spanish, it’s become so widely used most Spaniards won’t even pick up on this bizarre mistake. The right answer is ‘te oigo mal‘ (I can’t hear you).

Te oigo mal. Photo: Robin Higgins / Pixabay
 

¿Ahí, hay o ay? 

Ouch! Wasn’t Spanish meant to be an easy language phonetically speaking? These three words are almost pronounced the same but may cause some Spaniards a headache when putting pen to paper. Hay (there is/are), ‘ahí‘ (over there) and ‘ay‘ is what flamenco ‘cantaores‘ (singers) scream or what you shout out if you’re in pain.

Ay, I’m being bitten by ants. Photo: Hans / Pixabay
 

Andé o anduve? 

The past simple form of the verb ‘to walk’ (andar) in Spanish trips up many native speakers who assume it to be regular. Right answer is anduve, anduviste, anduvo, anduvimos, anduvisteis, anduvieron.

What is the past simple form of the verb ‘to walk’ (andar)? Photo: 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day / Pixabay

¿He freído o he frito? 

Brain frazzled yet? Well, not to worry because Spaniards often mix up the past participle of to fry (‘freído’) with the adjective fried (‘frito’). Food for thought.

Freído or Frito? Photo: Andrew Ridley / Unsplash

Subir para arriba, entrar para adentro, salir para afuera

In English, this would equate with ‘go up up’, ‘to go inside inside’ and ‘to go out’. It seems redundant, it’s grammatically wrong but the vast majority of Spaniards have used these forms more than once.

Subir para arriba? Photo: Bruno Nascimento / Unsplash
 

El agua, el arma, el hambre

Sometimes the gender (‘el’ or ‘la’) of nouns in Spanish is a bitch, pardon our French. It’s hard enough already for English speakers to label everything as either masculine or feminine, so when you get nouns that end with an ‘a’ but have a masculine pronoun it all gets very confusing. Still, many Spanish mistakenly say ‘este agua‘ or ‘este arma‘ when they should use ‘esta‘. 

El agua instead of La agua. Photo: rony michaud / Pixabay

¿Sólo o solo?

If you haven’t got your head around Spanish accents, rest assured many Spaniards aren’t clear on the rules either. Even the Royal Spanish Academy (the world’s chief body on the Spanish language) can’t make its mind up on whether to include an accent on ‘sólo‘ (only) or just leave it like solo (alone). Feel like you need a ‘café solo‘ (black coffee) now?

Do you need an accent with your café solo? Photo: David Schwarzenberg / Pixabay

Adding an unnecessary ‘s’ to second person past simple forms (‘fuistes’, ‘hicistes’, ‘llamastes’ and so on)

The letter ‘s’ at the end of words may be a relatively unheard sound in southern Spain, but in the rest of the Iberian peninsula, they’re rather fond of it. So much so that many Spaniards add it to verbs where it doesn’t even exist. By the way, it should be ‘fuiste’, ‘hiciste’ and ‘llamaste’.

Some Spanish people an extra ‘s’ onto words. Photo: Muhammad Haseeb Muhammad Suleman / Pixabay

¿Conducí o conduje? ¿Traducí o Traduje? 

Common verbs like ‘to drive’ and ‘to translate’ manage to catch out many Spaniards because of their unexpected irregular form in the past simple. The correct form for both verbs ends in -je, -jiste, -jo, -jimos, -jisteis and -jeron

Do you know how to say ‘I drove’ in Spanish? Photo: Pexels / Pixabay

Han solo

“What on earth is that choice of picture about?” you may ask. Well, this slide is only about one word- Han, solo. Terrible jokes aside, ‘there have been’ is not ‘han habido‘ in Spanish. The correct form is always ‘ha habido‘ but many Spaniards join the dark side. 

Han Solo. Photo: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

LEARNING SPANISH

Six celebrities who are fluent in (Castilian) Spanish

David Beckham may have struggled to string a sentence together in Spanish after four years in Madrid, but other famous faces have reached almost native levels in the language after spending time in España or with Spanish people.

Six celebrities who are fluent in (Castilian) Spanish

Freddie Highmore 

British actor Freddie Highmore, who as a child appeared alongside Johnny Depp in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Finding Neverland’, is perhaps the most impressive Spanish speaker on the list. The star of ‘The Good Doctor’ TV series spent a year living in Madrid while he was studying and actually has a Galician grandmother. His Spanish accent, his grammar and spoken sentence construction is practically native.

Ivan Rakitic

There are dozens of foreign footballers playing in La Liga who speak Spanish at an almost native level: Frenchman Antoine Griezzman, Belgian Thibaut Cortois, Slovak Jan Oblak. But perhaps the most incredible of all is Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, a former Barça player who’s returned to his old club Sevilla. It was in the Andalusian city where Rakitic met his now wife and where he developed a true Sevillian accent, with all the flair and consonant dropping that it’s famed for.

Gwyneth Paltrow

The American actress turned beauty product guru is a fluent Spanish speaker who mostly conjugates her verbs correctly and hardly has any traces of an American accent (she even pronounces c and z in the traditional Castilian way). It all started when as a teenager Paltrow did a year abroad in Talavera de la Reina near Toledo, where she stayed with a Spanish family who she still visits every time she’s in Spain.  

Jean Reno

You may not have known this, but French superstar Jean Reno’s real name is Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez. Reno was born in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, where his parents fled to from their native Cádiz to escape Franco’s regime. The star of ‘Leon: The Professional’ obviously had a big advantage when it came to learning Spanish, but given that he’s lived most of his life in Morocco and France, his fluency in Spanish is commendable, bar his clear French accent.

James Rhodes

Ever since British-born concert pianist James Rhodes moved to Spain in 2017, he’s voiced his love for everything Spanish, including the language. His work spearheading a law to protect children from sexual abuse in Spain earned him the honour of fast-track Spanish citizenship. Rhodes regularly takes to Twitter, tweeting almost entirely in Spanish and demonstrating a thorough understanding of syntax, slang and more. He’s also more than capable of holding his own when speaking castellano

Michael Robinson

The late Michael Robinson, a British footballer who became Spain’s most famous TV football pundit, was and still is the perfect example of how the most important factor when learning a language is to immerse oneself in the culture and make mistakes without fear. Having been forced into early retirement due to injury while playing for Osasuna, he took on his new job without prior experience and with far from perfect Spanish. He improved despite holding onto his British accent, learnt Spanish expressions and jokes and laughed at his blunders. No wonder he was known as Spain’s most loved Brit.

SHOW COMMENTS