Common Mistakes Spanish Speakers Make in English

Spanish-Speakers

Speak Spanish? 

As a native Spanish speaker, I understand what’s it’s like having to translate in your head before speaking in English. Speech may be lost in translation if you don’t transition from translating to thinking like an English speaker. I will share with you a few phrases to remember that will help you to not sound like you are translating from Spanish to English. These are my top mistakes Spanish speakers make in English:

Top mistakes Spanish speakers make:

  1. I am hungry vs I have hunger:

    • In Spanish, we say tengo hambre to mean I have hunger or thirst. In English, instead of having hunger, we are hungry.
      • For example, “I am hungry, I am cold, I am hot, I am thirsty, I am 25 years old.”
  2. I agree vs I am agree: 

    • In Spanish, we say estoy de acuerdo to mean I agree. In English, that phrase could be translated into I am in agreement but not I am agree. 
  3. Miss vs lose:

    • In Spanish speakers we say, perdi el tren to mean I missed the train. In English, to lose applies to losing things out of sight. To miss something applies to missing the bus,the train,or even people.
      • For example, “I missed the bus!” “I miss the train!” “I miss you!”
  4. This/that vs these/those:

    • In Spanish speakers we just add an “s” to esto/eso to mean plural. In English, plurals are a little different. This (singular)/these (plural) refers to items nearby and that(singular)/those (plural) refers to items far away. Pronunciation of these four words can be difficult for Spanish speakers.
      • For example, “this pen, “these pens,” “that car,” “those cars.”
  5. Embarrassed vs pregnant:

    • In Spanish speakers , estar avergonzada means to be embarrassed and not pregnant. Embarazada and embarrassed do not mean the same thing. Embarrassed means estar avergonzada and embarazada means to be pregnant. 
  6. Harass vs bother:

    • In Spanish, we say molestar but it doesn’t mean to molest, it means acosar . Molestar means to bother someone.
  7. Explain me vs explain to me:

    • In Spanish, when we just add a “me” at the end of the verb explain because it is a reflective verb. In English, we add to” in between explain and m. For example, “explain to me.” There are other verbs, however where we don’t have to add the to.
      • For example, “send me, show me, tell me.”
  8. Make vs do:

    • Make is used when we create or construct something. For example, “let’s make a cake”, “I like to make movies”, “I have made some coffee.” and do is used for general activities (something, anything nothing).
      • For example, “let’s do something today,” “I didn’t do anything yesterday,” “you did nothing on Tuesday.”
  9. Fun vs funny:

    • Fun means divertido and funny means chistoso.
      • For example, “riding my bike is fun,” “going to the movies is fun,” “that show was funny..” Fun is used to mean enjoyable 
  10. How vs what:

    • In Spanish, como doesn’t always translate into what. How is used to ask how something works, is made, or a state of being.
      • For example, “what does it look like”What is the word in English?” “How does it work.”

Takeaway for Spanish speakers !

These are some of the most common mistakes Spanish speakers make when speaking English. There are some words and phrases that can be translated directly into Spanish and vice versa, but those are the exceptions and not the rule. The rule is to start thinking in English so that you can start sounding more fluent and you don’t make these mistakes in conversation.

If you liked this lesson, check out this one HERE about how I became fluent in English as a native Spanish speaker!

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Picture of Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

Gabby Wallace, M.Ed TESOL

About the Author
Gabby Wallace is the Founder of Go Natural English, where you can quickly improve your confidence speaking English through advanced fluency practice. Even if you don't have much time, this is the best place for improving your English skills. Millions of global intermediate - advanced English students are learning with Gabby's inspiring, clear, and energetic English lessons. Gabby has a Masters Degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Boston University and 20+ years experience helping students become fluent through her online courses and membership program.

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