If you’re learning Spanish, chances are you’ve made a few mistakes along the way. And that’s okay! We all make mistakes when we’re learning something new. But some mistakes are more common than others, and some can even hinder your ability to effectively communicate in Spanish.Let’s examine some of the most common mistakes made by Spanish language learners of all levels, as well as how to avoid them. So whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been learning for awhile, read on for some helpful tips on how to improve your Spanish skills. There’s no shame in making any of these errors. In fact overcoming any feelings of embarrassment will make you a much more effective learner.
One of the most common mistakes made by Spanish language learners is incorrect pronunciation. There are a few key points to keep in mind when learning how to pronounce Spanish words correctly.
The first thing to remember is that Spanish is a phonetic language, which means that each letter is pronounced the same way every time. There are no silent letters and no letter combinations that make a different sound than what they look like they should. This makes learning proper pronunciation much easier than in languages like English where there are many exceptions to the rules. To be honest this fact is one of the reasons that I myself started to study Spanish way back before I ever considered moving to Spain.
When pronouncing Spanish words, always emphasize the syllable that has the accent mark. For example, the word “café” is pronounced “kah-FEH”, with the accent on the second syllable. If a word doesn’t have an accent mark, you can usually assume that the emphasis should be on the last syllable.
Also be aware of vowel sounds that may be unfamiliar to you in English. The letter “e” for example, is always pronounced with an “ay” sound as in “hAY”. Other vowel sounds to watch out for include those made by the letters “i” and “u”, which can often sound like long versions of the English “ee” and “oo” sounds respectively. Again, these are all phonetic so once you know how a letter is supposed to sound, it will be pronounced that way every time.
For some really in depth explanation of the rules of Spanish pronunciation, you must get a good Spanish grammar text book.
Grammar is one of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language. It can be especially tricky for Spanish learners whose native language is English as many of the grammar rules are the opposite to how things should be to us naturally. There are also many rules and irregular exceptions to memorize. Here are a couple of the most basic tricky concepts that are vital for English speakers to get to grips with.
- Incorrect use of gender
In Spanish, all nouns have a gender (masculine or feminine), which must be reflected in the articles and adjectives that modify them. For example, the word “libro” (book) is masculine, so it would take the masculine article “el” and an associated adjective would be for example “bueno”. If you’re unsure of a noun’s gender, you can often tell by its ending: -o for masculine and -a for feminine (with some exceptions of course!).
- Formal and informal register
Tú and usted both mean “you,” but they are used in different situations. A very new concept for English speakers which we tend to deal with by varying vocabulary and tone of voice used. Tú is informal and used when talking to someone of the same age, rank, or educational level, as well as children (among other situations). Usted is formal and generally used when talking to someone who is older than you or in a position of authority. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule – if you’re not sure which one to use, err on the side of caution and be polite.
It can be tricky to know how to structure sentences in Spanish, as there are many different rules to consider. However, there are some common mistakes that learner’s make which can be easily avoided.
One mistake is using the wrong verb tense. For example, Spanish has two different past tenses – the preterite and the imperfect. The preterite is used for finished past actions, whereas the imperfect is used for ongoing or incomplete actions. If you use the wrong tense it can change the meaning of your sentence entirely.
Another mistake is not using gender correctly. As we have seen, in Spanish all nouns have a gender – either masculine or feminine. This means that adjectives and articles must agree with the noun in terms of gender. For example, “el libro rojo” (the red book) is correct, but “la libro rojo” is not.
Finally, another common mistake is forgetting to use the correct conjugation of verbs. In Spanish, verbs must be conjugated to match the subject pronoun. So for example, “I read” would be “leo”, but “he reads” would be “lee”. If you don’t conjugate verbs correctly it can make your sentences very confusing for native speakers, as often the article is omitted!
False friends are words that seem to be similar in two languages but have different meanings. This can be a confusing and frustrating mistake for Spanish language learners.
There are hundreds of false friends between Spanish and English, and it can be difficult to keep track of all of them. However, there are some common ones that tend to trip up learners. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Embarazada: This word actually means “to be pregnant” in Spanish, not embarrassed.
- Sensible: In Spanish, sensible means “sensitive” not sensible.
- Excitado: In Spanish, excitado means “aroused” not simply excited. This one can obviously lead to some embarrassing situations!
- Preservativo: This word is used to mean “condom” in Spanish, not a fruit jam!
There are many mistakes that Spanish language learners can make, but some are more common than others. In this article, we have highlighted some of the most common mistakes made by Spanish language learners, as well as how to avoid them. We hope that by understanding these mistakes, you will be able to avoid them in your own learning journey and become a more confident speaker of the Spanish language.