Many people studying Spanish do the same mistakes all the time without even realizing it. For them, these mistakes might seem minuscule, but when conversating with a native, things look differently. We must pay attention not to embarrass ourselves, or make the other person feel uncomfortable.
Here are seven mistakes any Spanish student should avoid.
You think you’re saying: I am embarrassed
You are actually saying: I am pregnant
It’s funny how ironic this situation is – you’re trying to say that you’re embarrassed while embarrassing yourself! Hah, what a joke! What you should actually say is, “Tengo vergüenza.” That way they’ll know what you mean.
You think you’re saying: I am super-excited, yaaay!
You are actually saying: I am horny, yaay!
Being “exitado” does not translate into excitement in Spanish. So, watch your words. If you’re super-excited about attending that football game with your friends, don’t say you’re horny – they’ll give you the looks! The proper way to say “excited” is “emocionado/a.”
You think you’re saying: the chicken
You are actually saying: the cock
“I would like that chicken, please” translates to “Quisiera el pollo, por fa,” and not “Quisiera la polla, por fa.” If you make this mistake and nobody laughs, I’m just letting you know they’re all refraining themselves from sketching wide smiles.
You think you’re saying: I’m 30
You are actually saying: I’m 30, but in a very uncomfortable Spanish dialect
Native will understand you if you say “Estoy treinta,” but the proper way to tell your age is by adding the number after the verb “tengo.” So, if you’re 30, you should say “Tengo treinta años.”
Since we’re here, I want to draw your attention on something else too. Make sure you pronounce the word “años” properly. If you are not pronouncing the n tilde accordingly, you give the word anos a different meaning, which is, anuses.
You think you’re saying: I’m hot
You are actually saying: I’m horny
Similar with the age-example, “being hot” in Spanish does not exist. You could “have heat” whatsoever. Thus, the proper way to say that you’re hot is, “Tengo calor.” But keep in mind the improper way of saying that you’re hot – maybe you’ll need it. Spanish people are very passionate.
Lola Cramp, English teacher at International School Madrid, shares her story. “Apparently, I’ve been saying that I’m horny for years! Only after checking my work with an academic assignment writing advisor had I realized what a huge mistake I’ve made this whole time. I was so embarrassed,” ends Cramp.
You think you’re saying: I’m hungry
You are actually saying: I have a man
In this sentence, the “o” in “hombre” should be replaced by an “a.” The proper way to say that you are hungry is “tengo hambre.” Make sure you avoid making the common mistake of literally saying that you are hungry. It’s a false friend. In Spanish, you have hunger.
You think you’re saying: I would like some Penne (the pasta)
You are actually saying: I would like the penis
Yes, Spanish people do not recognize Penne as a type of pasta, but as a sexual organ. Pene means penis. The only difference between the two is that they’re spelled differently, but nobody can see that when you are ordering food. So, avoid embarrassing yourself by saying, “Quisiera pasta,” not pene!
Learning a new language can be challenging but it is an important part of living in another country or simply immersing in another culture. I hope this article helped you avoid some of the most common mistakes Spanish learners do. Good luck!
Lilian Chifley is an IT specialist, teacher, and blogger from Sydney. She loves to talk about artificial intelligence and modern education. You can find Lilian on Facebook and Twitter.