The Most Common Mistakes Made by Spanish Learners – Part 1

mistakes made by spanish learners

A while ago, I wrote a post about the most common mistakes made by English learners (click here to read it). Now, it’s time for you to find out what the most common mistakes made by Spanish learners are! Here’s the first part of the list:

 

1. Not knowing that certain words are “false cognates” (“false friends”) 

“False cognates” are words in Spanish that look or sound like words in other languages, but that don’t have the same meaning. Here are a few Spanish-English “false friends”:

Actual = Current

Arena = Sand

Colegio = High School

Contestar = to answer

Educado = Polite

Embarazada = Pregnant

Gracioso = Funny

Librería = Bookstore

Raro = Odd

Soportar = to bear

 

2. Misuse of “muy” and “mucho”

“Muy” should be placed before adjectives, adverbs, participles and nouns turned into adjectives.

You are very tall = Eres muy alto (“muy” + adjective).

I am very well = Estoy muy bien (“muy” + adverb).

You are very upset = Estas muy enojado (“muy” + participle).

He is very macho = Él es muy macho (“muy” + noun turned into adjective).

“Mucho” should be placed before nouns and after verbs.

I am very sleepy = Tengo mucho sueño (“mucho”+ noun).

I study a lot = Yo estudio mucho (verb + “mucho”).

*Exceptions: “mucho” should be used before the adjectives mejor, peor, mayor, menor, and after the adverbs más, menos, antes e después.

 

3. Misuse of “respecto” and “respeto”

“Respeto” without the c means respect (to respect = respetar), while “respecto” with the c means regarding, about.

I respect my parents = Yo respeto a mis padres

What do you think about this subject? = ¿Que opinas respecto a este tema?

 

4. Saying “estoy caliente” when you want to say that you’re hot (in the literal sense)

If you want to say that you’re hot, you should say “tengo calor” (I’m hot). If you say “estoy caliente,” people may give you funny looks because you’re actually saying that you’re horny! LOL

 

5. Gender confusion

While most words that end in a are feminine and most words that end in o are masculine, there are many exceptions. Here are some examples: el día, el aroma, el clima, el diploma, el idioma, la foto, la mano, la radio, la moto. To avoid gender confusion, memorize the gender of each word as you learn it.

 

Do you know of any other common mistakes made by Spanish learners? Feel free to leave your comments below.

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To read my post (in Portuguese) about the most common mistakes Brazilians make when speaking Spanish, click here.

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11 responses to “The Most Common Mistakes Made by Spanish Learners – Part 1

  1. Great post. I remember being told about the common “embarazada” and “caliente” mistakes early on when I started learning, so thankfully have never made those ones. But there’s plenty more in there that I’m sure I’ve messed up on before haha!

    • Hi Carl,
      Thank you for your comment! Yes, the “embarazada” and “caliente” mistakes are classic ones! haha I’ve said “estoy caliente” a couple of times myself when I was a beginner! I’m glad you learned the proper way to say it early on and never had to go through this embarrassing situation! LOL

  2. Here is a “false friend” you are gonna love!
    If someone tells you they have been sneezing a lot and they are feeling under the weather in spanish we say “constipado = to have a cold”, not to be mistaken with “estreñido = constipated”. ;)

  3. Pingback: If Only I Had This Resource When I Was Learning Spanish! « Language Boat·

  4. When you wrote this part: *Exceptions: “mucho” should be used before the adjectives mejor, peor, mayor, menor, and after the adverbs más, menos, antes e después.
    I think that it’s before más, menos, antes y después…
    Like: I started going to gym, I feel much stronger now. — Empecé a ir al gimnasio, me siento mucho más fuerte ahora.
    They are used to emphasize
    Sorry for my English, I speak Spanish jj

  5. Hola Juliana! Otra confusión aparece con “to realize” en inglés y “realizar” en español.
    “To realize” es en español el equivalente a “darse cuenta” o “to notice”.
    Y “realizar” significa en español, en su acepción más simple y usual: “hacer”.
    Me encanta este espacio que creaste, muchas gracias!

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