If you’re a Spanish speaker learning English then chances are you will have come across some of these mistakes before. They’re really common and perfectly normal but if you want to improve your English then they are things that you will need to work on.
English pronunciation mistakes
English pronunciation mistakes are often the funniest type of mistakes, they’re usually harmless but they do definitely make you sound Spanish instead of English. Obviously if you just want to communicate in English then this isn’t so much of a problem, but if you want to reach a native level of English then this is something you will need to work on.
I’m from espain
In Spanish the word for Spain is españa, and the word for Spanish is español. So a lot of Spanish speakers can’t help but add the Spain into English words as well. It’s very common to hear Spanish speakers say ‘I am from espain,’ or ‘I am espanish.’ At the end of the day this kind of mistake is harmless. Local people will still be able to understand you, but it is a very Spanish sound and if you want to sound more like an English speaker, then dropping this ‘e‘ is something you need to work on.
I need a shit/ Let’s go to the bitch
This type of pronunciation problem from Spanish speakers is probably a bit more dangerous. Spanish speakers often have problems with the ‘ee’ or ‘ea’ sound that comes in ‘sheet’ and ‘beach.’ And it can sound a lot more like they’re saying bitch and shit. They’re not saying the short ‘i’ sound in these words, but instead making a sound that’s somewhere between ‘i’ and ‘ee,’ leaving the listener to guess whether you mean ‘bitch’ or ‘beach.’
With this one you really need to listen to some native English speakers and work on this sound because it can get you into more trouble than other smaller mistakes.
Missing out indefinite articles
For those of who who aren’t grammar savvy then an indefinite article is basically a or an. Spanish has different rules about when these need to be used to English, which can cause some confusion. These are very common phrases you might hear a Spanish speaker say because they wouldn’t use the indefinite article in the same phrase if it was said in Spanish.
- I am fan
- My father is doctor
This is because in Spanish they don’t use a/an for profession. It’s a bit obvious. You’re father can’t be two doctors so why would you need to specify. Unfortunately in English, we do use the indefinite article here, so Spanish people often get tripped up by this.
Take a look hear at some of the rules of when you should be using an indefinite article.
Problems with using I have
This one needs a category all of it’s own. ‘I have’ causes lots of confusion with Spanish speakers, because they use ‘I have’ many times when we would use ‘I am.’ Here are just some of the examples where the phrases would make sense in Spanish but don’t make sense in English because we would use ‘I am’ instead.
- I have hot – Tengo calor
- I have cold – Tengo frío
- I have 10 years – Tengo diez años
- I have right – Tengo razón (They actually mean I am right, but in English it sounds a bit like you’re saying I have rights)
- I have hungry – Tengo hambre
- I have thirsty – Tengo sed
- I have lucky – Tengo suerte
In all of these cases the Spanish speakers needs to say ‘I am,’ not ‘I have.’
- I am hot
- I am cold
- I am 10 years old
- I am right
- I am hungry
- I am thirsty
- I am lucky
If there are any others that you can think of then let us know in the comments below. But this is an incredibly common mistake that Spanish speakers make, which can sometimes be confusing to English speakers and will also hold them back from their goals of fluency.
Using ‘how’ when you should be using ‘what’
Many Spanish speakers will use the word ‘how’ in place of ‘what’, for example:
How are you called?
How is the word in English?
This is because this is how the translation would work in Spanish. In Spanish to ask someone’s name you say:
¿Como te llamas?
Which literally means how are you called. Of course this sounds strange in English but it is so common in Spanish that it is something you will hear again and again.
Embarrassing English mistakes for a Spanish speaker to make
I am constipated
Many Spanish people will say ‘I am constipated,’ when they actually mean ‘I’m stuffed up’ or ‘I have a cold.’ This is because ‘estoy constipado‘ doesn’t mean I’m constipated in Spanish but is something you would say when your nose is bunged up. If you say I am constipated in English, then you’re telling someone that you can’t poo, which is something we don’t really share in polite company.
Unfortunately this is such a common mistake that even google translate thinks it means ‘I am constipated’ meaning a lot of Spanish speakers will have had and will be having some pretty embarrassing exchanges with English speakers.
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We hope you’ve found our common English mistakes made by Spanish speakers useful. If you think they are any other typical mistakes that Spanish speakers make then let us know in the comments below.
And remember, here at Lingo Press Books, we always think that mistakes are ok, they’re a natural part of learning and if you make mistakes in English that’s not a bad thing, you just need to learn from them and move on. Mistakes shouldn’t be embarrassing because we all make them. Just be sure to look out for these mistakes now, so that if you or your students do make them, the behaviour can be corrected then you can move on.
Also if you’ve enjoyed this article and you would like to hear about other common mistakes made by speakers of different languages then please let us know in the comments below as well.