Ten Common Mistakes In Spanish to avoid ....

Here are some tips on how to avoid some of the ten most common mistakes made in Spanish.

Spanish is a beautiful, expressive language. But as with any language, it has its peculiarities.

A challenge every Spanish learner faces is training oneself to think in Spanish terms.

It's normal for a native English speaker to try to form a phrase in Spanish the same way it would be spoken in English, or to pronounce Spanish words with an English bias.

But these tendencies must be addressed and corrected early.

The sooner you learn the "Top Ten" common mistakes made by Spanish learners, the easier it will be for you to avoid making them.

If you follow these guidelines, your Spanish will sound more natural and authentic.

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #1:
Placing an adjective before a noun.

In English, we put the adjective first.

In Spanish, it's the other way around - the noun comes first.

Here is an example:

brown dog

perro marrón

Perro means "dog" and marrón means "brown."

A literal translation from Spanish to English, then, would be "dog brown."

Remember this like 'Charlie Brown' the cartoon character.

Here is another example:

cold water

agua fría

where agua means "water" and fría means "cold."

Again, you have to place the noun first and think "water cold" before translating into Spanish.

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #2:
Confusing the verbs Ser and Estar

Both translate as "to be," however, each means something completely different.


Ser is Permanent

Ser generally is used with permanent or intrinsic properties:

Soy la madre de Juan.
I am John's mother.

Somos profesores de ciencia.
We are science professors.


Estar is Temporary

Estar typically is used with temporary conditions or transient qualities:

Estoy contento hoy.I am happy today.

Estamos comiendo nuestro desayuno.We are eating our breakfast.

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #3:
Using señora instead of señorita, and vice versa.

These are not interchangeable. Señora means "Mrs." and señorita means "Miss."

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #4:
Confusing "a" and "o" word endings.

Every Spanish noun has an associated gender.

Generally, nouns that end with "a" are considered feminine, such as:

la lluviathe rain

la mesathe table

Nouns that end in "o" usually are masculine, such as:

el caballo
the horse in Spanish

el techo
the roof in Spanish

Adjectives in Spanish must reflect the gender designation of a noun.

For example, "white" is blanco. But it's incorrect in Spanish to say la mesa blanco. You have to say:

la mesa blanca

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #5:
Pronouncing the letter "h".

Don't pronounce the letter "h" as you would in English.

In Spanish, the "h" is always silent.

hamburguesa sounds like "am-burr-guess-ah"

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #6:
Mispronouncing the letter "j."

The Spanish "j" sounds like the English "h."

jamón (the "j" here is pronounced like the English "h")ham

jugo (the "j" here is also pronounced like the English "h")juice

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #7:
Ignoring accents.

One little accent can completely alter the meaning of a word! So pay attention to accents. Here is a classic example:

esta (pronounced "EH-stah," with the stress on the first syllable)this

Esta casa es muy bonita.This house is very pretty.

está (pronounced "eh-STAH," with the stress on the second syllable)is

Ella está muy cansada.She is very tired.

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #8:
Stretching out vowels.

There are no long vowels in Spanish. Every vowel is short, so don't stretch words out unnecessarily. Hola, which means "hello," is short and simple. It's not pronounced "ohhhhh-lahhhhhh."

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #9:
Treating "ll" as "l."

The Spanish "double-l" is never pronounced like the letter "l." How it is pronounced depends on the country or region you visit.

It may sound like the "j" in "just."

Or it can sound like the "y" in "yes."

But it never sounds like "l" in "lake."

llevar sounds like yevar or jevar.
to take or to carry

llave
key

Spanish Learners' Common Mistake #10:
Saying "rr" too softly.

The Spanish "r" is stronger than the English "r." So when you pronounce words like

tren
train

rojo
red

relámpagolightning

you need to double the strength of your "r." For words with "rr," such as

barromud

carritotrolley

don't be shy about quadrupling the strength of your "r" sound!

by Graciela Sholander
Graciela is a native Spanish speaker and native English speaker, who is a writer and Spanish teacher based in the USA.

The Ten Most Common Mistakes in Spanish that Learners Make

Spanish is a beautiful, expressive language. But as with any language, it has its peculiarities. A challenge every Spanish learner faces is training oneself to think in Spanish terms. It’s normal for a native English speaker to try to form a phrase in Spanish the same way it would be spoken in English, or to pronounce Spanish words with an English bias. But these tendencies must be addressed and corrected early. The sooner you learn the “Top Ten” mistakes made by Spanish learners, the easier it will be for you to avoid making them. If you follow these guidelines, your Spanish will sound more natural and authentic.

Mistake #1: Placing an adjective before a noun.

In English, we put the adjective first. In Spanish, it’s the other way around – the noun comes first.

Here is an example:

the brown dog

el perro marrón

Perro means “dog” and marrón means “brown.” A literal translation from Spanish to English, then, would be “dog brown.”

Here is another example:

cold water

el agua fría

where agua means water and fría means cold

(Note: this is a feminine word – using el because of the noun begins with a vowel.) Again, you have to place the noun first and think “water cold” before translating into Spanish.

Mistake #2: Confusing the verbs Ser and Estar

Both translate as “to be,” however, each means something completely different.

Ser generally is used with permanent or intrinsic properties:

Soy la madre de Juan. = I am John’s mother.

Somos profesores de ciencia.
= We are science professors.

Estar typically is used with temporary conditions or transient qualities:

Estoy contento hoy. = I am happy today.
Estamos comiendo nuestro desayuno. = We are eating our breakfast.

Mistake #3: Using señora instead of señorita, and vice versa.

These are not interchangeable. Señora means Mrs and señorita means Miss.

Mistake #4: Confusing “a” and “o” word endings.

Every Spanish noun has an associated gender – feminine or masculine.

Generally, nouns that end with “-a” are usually considered feminine, such as:

la lluviathe rain

la mesathe table

Notable exceptions – these are masculine words:

el día = day.el problema= problem (as are most words ending in –ma).

Nouns that end in “-o” are usually, but not always, masculine, such as:

el caballothe horse

el techothe roof

Notable exceptions – these are feminine words:

el mano = hand.el foto = photograph.

But it’s not all that simple, and just because a word is feminine by nature, does not mean it will be feminine by gender!

Also, there are cases where the word is feminine, but el is used, usually before the vowel, ‘a’.

e.g.el agua = water – is feminine.Usually adjectives follow the noun, however note that if an adjective is placed before the noun, the ‘correct’ article is used:e.g.el agua fría = the cold waterla misma agua = the same water

Also,

Sometimes a noun may be used with both genders, but often with changes in meaning.

el capital = capital (money)la capital = capital (city)

el guía = guide (person)la guía = guide (book)

el frente = front (war)la frente = forehead

This is why it is so important to learn the gender of the noun at the same time as learning the noun. Many language courses don’t help you do this. Some words are more obvious than others.

Adjectives must reflect the gender designation of a noun. They are either masculine or feminine and must agree with the noun they are describing.

For example, “white” is blanco. But it’s incorrect to say la mesa blanco. You have to say:

la mesa blanca

Pronunciation:

Mistake #5: Pronouncing the letter “h.”

Don’t pronounce the letter “h” as you would in English. In Spanish, the “h” is always silent.

hamburguesa sounds like “am-burr-guess-ah”

Mistake #6: Mispronouncing the letter “j.”

The Spanish “j” sounds like the English “h.”

jamón (the “j” here is pronounced like the English “h”)ham

jugo (the “j” here is also pronounced like the English “h”)juice

Mistake #7: Ignoring accents.

One little accent can completely alter the meaning of a word! So pay attention to accents.

Here is a classic example:

esta (pronounced “EH-stah,” with the stress on the first syllable) = this

Esta casa es muy bonita.This house is very pretty.

está (pronounced “eh-STAH,” with the stress on the second syllable) = isis

Ella está muy cansada.She is very tired.

Mistake #8: Stretching out vowels.

There are no long vowels in Spanish. Every vowel is short, so don’t stretch words out unnecessarily. Hola, which means “hello,” is short and simple. It’s not pronounced “ohhhhh-lahhhhhh.”

Mistake #9: Treating “ll” as “l.”

The Spanish “double-l” is never pronounced like the letter “l.” How it is pronounced depends on the country or region you visit.

It may sound like the “j” in “just”, for example, in Argentina.

Or it can sound like the “y” in “yes,” for example, in Spain.

But it never sounds like “l” in “lake.”

llevarto take or to carry

la llavekey

Mistake #10: Saying “rr” too softly.

The Spanish “r” is stronger than the English “r.” So when you pronounce words like

trentrain

rojored

relámpagolightning

You need to double the strength of your “r.” For words with “rr,” such as

barromud

carritotrolley

Don’t be shy about quadrupling the strength of your “r” sound!

by Graciela Sholander





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