20 Common errors in Spanish made by English speakers
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Homepage: http://www.lingolex.com/spanish.htm


Typical errors and mistakes in Spanish by English speakers.
The words and examples are provided by Sole a Spanish
teacher at Granada university.
To make it clear we are going to use this colour scheme:
Blue: The title
Green: The mistake
Yellow: Explanation
White: Correct examples

 

Realise
I didn't realise *No me realicé*
"Realizar": means: to carry out, execute, to make, to conduct.
If you want to say "realise" in Spanish you have to say: Darse cuenta: See examples.
When I went to call you, I realised that I had lost your number. Cuando fui a llamarte me di cuenta de que había perdido tu número.
Only when he had gone did she realise that she loved him. Solamente, cuando él se había ido, ella se dio cuenta de que lo quería.
Ask and ask for
I asked for a beer. I ordered a beer *pregunté por una cerveza*
Preguntar = ask (when you want to know something)
Pedir = ask for (when you want something)
I asked her where she lived Le pregunté dónde vivía
I asked him for a cigarette. Le pedí un cigarro.
Entradas

Did you buy the tickets for the cinema?

*¿Compraste los billetes para el cine?*

"Billetes" are for travel tickets. We use "entradas" for ticket to the theater or cinema or "espectáculos".
By the way: A showing in the cinema is the "el pase" or "la sesión" A performance at the theatre is "la función"
There aren't any tickets left for the 8 o'clock showing. No quedan entradas para el pase de las ocho.
Look for - Search
I am looking for my book. *Estoy mirando para mi libro*
"Mirando para" doesn't exist, it's a literal translation from English. You can use "buscar" but it has no preposition.
Note: When the thing we are looking for is a person we add "a" after "buscar"
See examples.
I've looked for my keys everywhere and I can't find them. He buscado mis llaves por todas partes pero no las he encontrado.
I am looking for John so I can give him this book. Estoy buscando a John para dejarle este libro.
My oldest / youngest brother
My oldest/youngest brother *Mi hermano más viejo/joven*
You have to use "mayor" or "menor"
My oldest brother lives in Paris Mi hermano mayor vive en París
Diane is my youngest daughter. Diane es mi hija menor.
Diane es mi hija pequeña
Regarding ...... To respect
I don't know anything regarding this subject *no sť nada respeto a este asunto*
You must respect your parents *Debes respectar a tus padres*
Just be careful with the diference between "respecto a" (regarding) and "respeto" (respect)
We have serious doubts regarding the safety of the braking system Tenemos serias dudas respecto a la seguridad del sistema de frenos.
He has no respect for the law No tiene respeto por la ley
To move
I'm going to move to another house *Voy a moverme a otra casa*
When you want to say "move" in the sense of changing where you live you have to use the verb "mudar"
I lived in Nebraska for four years and then I moved to California Viví cuatro años en Nebraska y después me mudé a California.
I live in the Suburbs
I live in the suburbs *Vivo en los suburbios*
The "suburbios" in Spanish is a conflictive area of a city with poverty and other problems. It is not a good translation of "suburb" or "outskirts"
I live in the outskirts of Madrid Vivo en las afueras de Madrid.
In the morning
In the morning *en la mañana*

The problem is the preposition "en" it should be "por" or "de"
Notes:

We use "por" when we speak about an approximate time:
eg: Por la tarde doy un paseo
I go for a walk in the evening

We use "de" when we speak about the exact time
eg: A las 5 de la tarde doy un paseo.
I go for a walk at 5 o clock in the evening

in the morning por la mañana:
early in the morning temprano por la mañana
at midday al mediodía
at lunchtime a la hora de comer
in the evening por la tarde
at midnight a medianoche
in the early hours of the morning por la madrugada
very late at night a las tantas
I am here for 6 months
I am here for 6 months. *estoy aquí por 6 meses*
This is the answer to the question. How long are you going to be here?
In Spanish you have to say "voy a estar aquí" or the meaning is unclear.
I am here for six months Voy a estar aquí 6 meses
It was a success
It was a big success - it had a lot of success. *Tuvo mucho suceso*
success in Spanish is "éxito"
The film was a big success in Spain La película tuvo mucho éxito en España
He drank a lot and the next morning
He drank a lot and the next morning he had a hangover. *Bebió mucho y la próxima mañana tenía resaca*
The "próxima" (next) is only used in the present and the future. In the past we must use "siguiente"
(the following)
He drank a lot and the next morning he had a hangover. Bebió mucho y la mañana siguente tenía resaca
They met in 1990 and they got married the next year. Se conocieron en 1990 y se casaron el año siguiente.
Give some a lift - take some in your car
I took my daughter to the airport *Tomé a mi hija al aeropuerto*
To express the idea of giving someone a lift or taking someone somewhere we use the verb "llevar"
I gave my brother a lift to his house Llevé a mi hermano a su casa
Story
I like adventure stories *Me gustan las cuentas de aventuras*

Cuento = story or tale
Contar una historia = to tell a story

Cuenta: = Cuenta bancaria = bank account
Cuenta = a sum (mathematical calculation)
Cuenta = Bill in a restaurante: Note that we use "cuenta" for a bill with food and drinks but for other types of bill we use "factura" eg plumbers, in the garage etc.

I tell stories to my daughter to make her go to sleep. Le cuento cuentos a mi hija para dormir
I don't have any money in my account No tengo fondos en mi cuenta
They always make mistakes in the bill in this bar and we pay too much Es este bar siempre se equivocan en la cuenta y pagamos de más.
Can you bring us the bill please? ¿Nos trae la cuenta?
Support
I supported his decision *soportaba su decisión*

Be careful:
"soportar" = "tolerate" or "put up with"

In most cases we use "apoyar"

Note: (with teams of sport) If you want to say "I support Real Madrid" you would say "Soy del Real Madrid"

Which team do you support = ¿De qué equipo eres?

Note: No soporto a Juan = I can't stand Juan.

I need your support necesito tu apoyo
I support everything you do apoyo todo lo que haces.
He's dressed in red
He's dressed in red *Va vestido en rojo*
When we use dressed in + "a colour" we use "de"
.He always wears black Siempre va vestido de negro.
The person I live with
The boy I live with *El chico que vivo con*
Prepositions never come at the end of a sentence in Spanish:
The preposition must come before a noun, a pronoun or an article.
The boy I live with El chico con quien vivo or El chico con el que vivo.
Who can I speak to? ¿con quién puedo hablar?
More than 5
More than 5 *más que 5*
Normally we use "que" eg "más que yo" = "more than I" but when we use numbers we use "de".
There were more than 20 people at the lecture Había más de 20 personas en la conferencia
The more I see him the more I like him
The more I see him the more I like him *Lo más que lo veo lo más que me gusta*
Just get used to the Spanish construction using "Cuanto"
The more I see him the more I like him Cuanto más lo veo, más me gusta.
The more I study the more I learn Cuanto más estudio, más aprendo
The less you smoke the better you feel Cuanto menos fumas, mejor te sientes.
I remember that day
I remember that day *me recuerdo de aquel día*
"Recordar" (remember) Does not have a reflexive pronoun nor "de"
Note:
Recordar algo = remember something
Recordar a alguien = remember someone
Do you remember Juan? ¿recuerdas a Juan?
I remember that day recuerdo aquel día
I don't remember haing done it. no recuerdo haberlo hecho

The original idea for the list of errors came from our April 2000 word of the month