Here is a list of 5 common mistakes that English speakers make when speaking Spanish. These are focused on the beginner level.
1. Overusing the personal pronouns
Most of the time, native Spanish speakers don’t use personal pronouns “yo, tú, nosotros”, etc. So, instead of saying “Yo estudio español”, try “Estudio español.”
Using the pronouns is important when you need to clarify who you’re talking about, usually with the third person pronouns. If you say “Estudia chino” without enough context, I don’t know if you’re saying he, she, it studies Chinese. In that case, you can put in an él or ella to make it clear. The same for ellos, ellas, ustedes.
This point is especially for learners focusing on Latin America, but can be useful for all.
The term americano/americana is a loaded one in Spanish. Loaded socio-politically, that is. In parts of the Spanish-speaking world, everyone is americano if they’re from North, Central or South America. So, if you’re referring to someone or something from the United States, you can say “estadounidense” instead!
3. You’re hot & you’re cold
There’s Yes – Tengo calor. / Tengo frío. (I have heat/cold)
And there’s No – Estoy caliente. / Estoy frío/a.
4. Ser y haber
You might be familiar with the 2 verbs for the one verb “to be” in English – ser and estar. There is also a THIRD verb for “be” that is used only in the third person to signify that something exists or not.
That verb is HABER, present tense form HAY. It is used to answer questions as in Does it exist?
Hay un gato allí – There is (There exists) a cat over there.
Hay muchos libros en la biblioteca – There are (There exist) many books in the library.
If you’re identifying the object (answering the question What is it?) you use SER.
Es un gato – It’s a cat.
Son unos libros de la biblioteca. – They’re some books from the library.
5. Using en for days of the week
En martes vamos a estudiar muchísimo español porque en miércoles vamos para México. – said English speaker using the preposition rules of English while speaking Spanish.
English speaker forgot that we need to use “el” when talking about days of the week, not “en”.
Don’t be like English speaker.
Say this instead: El martes vamos a estudiar muchísimo español porque el miércoles vamos para México.
There are, of course, more common mistakes that English speakers make in Spanish, but these are the most basic ones in my opinion!
Let me know what you think! Have you caught yourself making any of these errors?