by Max Long

Learning a language is about taking the plunge and just getting into conversation at the earliest possible opportunity. Inevitably, however, this can sometimes result in some embarrassing or amusing mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes Spanish-speakers make when learning English.

Adjectives and nouns

Changing the order of adjectives and nouns, such as in the case of ‘I have a house pink’ instead of ‘I have a pink house’. In Spanish, adjectives often come after the noun, whereas this is much less common in English and can sound unusual.

False Cognates

Spanish words which are spelt similarly in English but can often have radically different meanings. For example, ‘actually’ is closer to ‘de hecho’ than ‘actualmente’. Some also confuse decepción (disappointment) with the English ‘deception’, which is closer to ‘engaño’. Another classic example is to confuse ‘success’ (‘éxito’) with ‘suceso’ (‘event’).

Estar de acuerdo

‘I am agree’ – Spanish-speakers often use this wrong phrase to mean ‘estoy de acuerdo’. This is due to the confusion that ‘acuerdo’ is an adjective, whereas ‘agree’ is a verb, which makes the ‘am’ superfluous.

Questions

Questions can often be a tricky one for Spanish-speakers. Take, for example, ’You think I’m beautiful?’ versus the correct question, ‘Do you think I’m beautiful?’. Spanish-speakers often omit auxiliary words or put them in the wrong order when asking questions – such as: ‘You are happy?’.

Missing out the article

English requires that nouns are defined. Is it ‘the’ house or simply ‘a’ house? Spanish-speakers often miss these details out when they start learning English, for example with ‘I sit on chair’ instead of ‘I sit on the chair’.

Difficult to pronounce words

This is especially the case with words like ‘though’ and ‘through’. Several place-names can also appear to be tongue twisters for Spanish learners, as is the case with ‘Worcester’ and ‘Durham’.

Double letters

Missing out double letters is a common mistake. A lot of words which in English have double letters, such as ‘difficult’ or ‘discussion’, have only single ones in Spanish, and new learners can often leave these out.

Personal pronouns

Spanish-speakers omit personal pronouns because sometimes they are unnecessary in Spanish. For example, to the question ‘Is Rachel coming tonight?’, a Spanish person might reply ‘Yes, is coming’.

Constipated/Constipado

Perhaps one of the funniest of mistakes made by Spanish-speaking students learning English. Whilst the Spanish form it means just a light cold, in English it means the slightly more uncomfortable ‘estreñimiento’.