The joys of learning Spanish are countless, and so are the mistakes to be made. As you’re getting confident with your Spanish language skills, look out for these common mistakes you might be making. If you find that you do make these mistakes, never fear! That’s what learning and perfecting foreign language skills is all about. The more you know, the more you learn, the better you can learn to speak the Spanish language!
Here’s the list:
- Por y Para “Gracias por el café” and “Esta rosa es para ti” In English, “for” would be used in both cases, however Spanish complicates things with having two possibilities. Many Spanish learners mix up these two and use them incorrectly.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that there are many meanings of “for”. For example “I’m looking for the milk for you”. In this sentence, the first “for” means “in order to find” and the second “for” means “on behalf of you.” Unfortunately there are quite a number of rules to memorize in order to use “por” and “para” correctly. Time, memorization, practice and examples are necessary to master this. For a great list of examples of when to use “por” and “para”, check out this list.
- False Cognates These are words that sound the same, but don’t mean the same thing. A classic mistake is “embarazada” which means “pregnant” rather than “embarrassed.” Other commonly confused words are: “assistir” (to attend, not help), “realizar” (to do something, not realize) and “soportar” (to put up with something, not support).
- Conjugation Troubles Preterit, imperfect, past, future, with all of those verb conjugations to keep track of not to mention irregulars – keeping conjugations straight can be tricky. The best way to avoid mixing up conjugations is to study, memorize, practice using them and repeat. The more you expose yourself to natural, good old native Spanish, the more the rules will sink in as well.
- Ser vs. Estar Spanish learners often mix up “ser” and “estar”, the two verbs that are used for “to be”. For example, a Spanish learner may say “soy aburrido” which is essentially “I’m boring” when they mean to say “estoy aburrido” or “I’m bored”. “Ser” is for permanent situations and “estar” is temporary. Keep them straight.
- Adjective Placement Adjectives usually come after the noun in Spanish, where as in English, they usually come before. This small difference can take you from awkward to expert in your Spanish speaking level. So, if you want to say you saw a red house, you should say “Vi una casa roja” rather than “Vi una roja casa.”
As you study Spanish, remember that making mistakes is part of the process. By making mistakes, we learn how to say things correctly. After all, who doesn’t remember some of their most awkward language mistakes? It’s a journey to become fluent with many bumps along the way. Pick one of the mistakes above to work on to make progress on your own personal language learning journey.