This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)
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.