When learning a foreign language it is impossible not to make your fair share of mistakes. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid in Spanish:
(1) To say “another …” in Spanish you don’t need to use “un” or “una”:
“Another book” isn’t, “un otro libro”, just “otro libro”.
(2) Using a preposition unnecessarily to say what profession someone has. You don’t say “Juan es un médico” (Juan is a doctor), you just say “Juan es médico”.
(3) When talking about age, Spanish people say that you “have” … years old, not that you “are … years old”.
Carmen tiene treinta años. Carmen is 30 years old.
(4) Using a preposition after certain verbs when it is unnecessary. The verb “buscar” means “to look for” therefore you do not need to include “para”, “Busco para un apartamento” (I’m looking for an apartment), you would say “Busco un apartamento.”
Similarly, the verb “pedir” means “to ask for” therefore, you don’t need to say, “Pido para una cerveza” (I’m ordering a beer), but just “Pido una cerveza”.
(5) Using the wrong preposition with a.m. and p.m. If you are saying “in the morning” and you have mentioned a specific time, you use “de la mañana.”. If you have not mentioned an exact time and just want to say “in the morning”, you say “por la mañana.”
Siempre salgo a correr a las siete de la mañana. I always go out running at 7 a.m.
Corro por las mañanas. I run in the mornings.
(6) Possessive adjectives, “mi”, “tu”, “su”, “nuestro/a(s)”, “vuestro/a(s)” aren’t used with parts of the body or clothing. You just need the definite article.
Me duele la cabeza. My head hurts. [Literally: The head it hurts me.]
Me pongo el abrigo para el trabajo. I put the suit on for work.
(7) Make numbers in the hundreds agree with the noun. Normally we learn that two hundred is “doscientos”, however you would make this feminine when it is followed by a feminine noun.
docientos chicos. Two hundred boys.
doscientas chicas. Two hundred girls.
(8) Never end sentences in Spanish with a preposition (con, de, a, por, para, hacia etc.) as we do in English. In questions they go at the beginning:
¿Con quién fuiste a la fiesta? Who did you go to the party with?
¿Para qué necesitas la bolsa? What do you need the bag for?
(9) In English if we talk about what we are going to do fairly soon, maybe in a few days, we use the present continuous tense (-ing), for example, “On Sunday I’m going to Sheffield.” However, if you said this is Spanish, you would not use the present continuous tense, (El domingo estoy yendo a Sheffield), you would use the immediate future tense, “El domingo voy a ir a Sheffield” or even the present tense “El domingo voy a Sheffield.” In Spanish you only use the present continuous to say what is happening right now or for things that are ongoing.
(10) With days of the week in Spanish you use the definite article, “el” or “los” to say “on” a day, not “en”. Also, remember that the days of the week (as well as the months) are not capitalised in Spanish.
Voy a Francia el domingo. I go to France on Sunday.
Trabajo los viernes. I work on Fridays.