Some MORE common mistakes Spanish speakers make
Last week we highlighted some common mistakes Spanish speakers make in English.
Here is another collection of difficulties for Hispanophones.
Uncountable or unpluralisable words
Most uncountable words are the same in English and Spanish; like information, sand or money. However, there are a few differences. In the bakery, you cannot ask for three breads, as is quite common in Spanish. You must specify pieces, rolls or loaves of bread.
Other common mistakes come from words that don’t change, like fish, sheep and deer, as well as words that pluralise without the normal ‘s’ on the end, like men, women, children, people, teeth and feet. Three sheep have twelve feet!
The literal translation of estoy de acuerdo is ‘I am of accord’, which sounds very Shakespearean. It is very, very common for Spanish speakers to say “I am agree”. Don’t! The old word ‘accord’, is a synonym for ‘agreement’, but is almost never used
Lose / Miss & Hope / Wait
Just as non-native Spanish speakers may confuse ser and estar, Spanish speakers may say “I lost my bus”. A valid response to this could be “Wow! I didn’t know you had a bus!”. Similarly, if someone says that they are “hoping for a bus”, you could have greater dreams, and say that you are hoping for a private jet to take you to work. “To hope” signifies a mix of desire and expectation. You wait for the bus.
It is very important! Whereas in Spanish it is possible to omit the subject in sentences like this (es muy importante), in English, a subject is always necessary. Even if you have been talking about John for an hour, you cannot say ‘Is a nice guy’. You must say ‘John’ or ‘He’ before talking about him.
Similarly, it is very common for Spanish speakers to say ‘Are a lot of people in China’. Perhaps this is because the word ‘hay’ is only one word. There are a lot of people in China.
Conversely, there are some times when in Spanish there more words than in English. These are mostly times when ‘El/La’ is said in Spanish, but is not in English. Every week I hear Spanish speakers add ‘the’ to ‘last year, ‘next week’ or ‘last Tuesday’. This is wrong! No ‘the’!
Realise (U.S. Realize)
It may take a long time for some Spanish speakers to realise that this is another false friend! The verb realise is the Spanish equivalent of darse cuenta. The Spanish realizar has a lot of translations in English, of which the most common are: ‘to perform’, ‘to carry out’, ‘to fulfil’ or simply ‘to do’.
- There were twelve childrens and they ate one bread each.
- Do deers eat fishes?
- The politicians talked for hours, but they weren’t agree about nothing.
- I lost my bus and had to hope for half an hour for the next one!
- “Sorry, sir. Are no tickets to Bromley this morning.
“Ah, ok. Is possible in the afternoon?”
“I’m afraid not sit. You’ll have to wait until the next week.”
- Sometimes it is necessary to realize tests on animals.
- I finally realised my dream of visiting the seven wonders of the world.
- There were twelve children and they ate one piece of bread each.
- Do deer eat fish?
- The politicians talked for hours, but they didn’t agree about anything.
- I missed my bus and had to wait half an hour for the next one!
- “Sorry, sir. There are no tickets to Bromley this morning.”
“Ah, ok. Is it possible in the afternoon?”
“I’m afraid not sit. You’ll have to wait until next week.” (no ‘the’)
- Sometimes it is necessary to carry out tests on animals.
- I finally fulfilled my dream of visiting the seven wonders of the world. (…or accomplished)