Some English rules that doesn’t work well in a Spanish text

Spanish culture copywriter
Actuación de la Banda de Gaites Villaviciosa – El Gaitero Creative Commons licensed ( BY-SA ) flickr photo shared by Rubén Díaz Caviedes

As copywriter in Spanish I am used to folllow clients rules in order to get the post they want. However, the experience has taught me that one of the best services you can provide to foreign clients is feedback about how they original ideas will work in the Spanish market. Here I offer 3 English speakers clients’ rules that don’t work well in Spanish.

1. Be simple, fast, easy.

When writing in English you are asked usually to keep your sentences as simple as possible. But, the truth is that a very easy text in Spanish looks poor, childish and even boring.

Spanish is much more difficult language than English, and you have a lot of verb tenses and the, always hated by learners, subjunctive mode. Spanish native speakers use all these board possibilities, even if their culture is not very high.

Of course, I agree that when writing in Spanish you need to be fast and easy. But being simple is not so good idea. As writer you don’t have to use a difficult vocabulary that is true, and you have to be clear. The point is being clear sometimes mean don’t being as simple as English speaker would expect in the phrases’ structure.

2. One piece of information in each sentence

This is in the same line as the point 1. One peace of information in each sentence can be boring and the reader can think any of these three things:

a) You are stupid.

b) You think the reader is stupid.

c) a) and b) are correct.

And you don’t want your clients marking these options so treat them like adults.

3. Talk in second person

This instruction works as a general rule, but you need to have into consideration two aspects about it.

First, in Spanish we usually use we instead of you when you are trying to explain something. Are you writing a tutorial? Then you can use something like “we will do that and then we will do this” getting as friendly text as using you.

Second, storytelling also sells, and when you want to talk a story, you can use first person to make it more engaging. This makes you look as another person equal to the reader.

In short you need to write in the same person you would talk to a friend, but this doesn’t mean you have to avoid first person.



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