Don’t Make These 5 Common Mistakes in Spanish


In this article you will learn 5 common mistakes in Spanish that are ruining your language learning journey and making you sound like a gringo

If you don’t want the effort that you have put into learning Spanish to be ruined by making mistakes that could easily be avoided, ¡te va a encantar este artículo! (you are going to love this article!) 

1. Pronouncing letters O and H 

Keep your Os short and your H silent!

  • Amigou bienvenidou al hotel Amigo, bienvenido al hotel. (Welcome to the hotel, friend) 

You might want to refresh your alphabet and vowels! So, check out the FREE Spanish for beginners course on our YouTube channel! 

2. ¿Puedo tener?

Remember that Spanish works differently than English. So, saying “puedo tener” to get something from someone doesn’t work in Spanish. 

Spanish speakers say “ME DA” when addressing someone formally or ME DASwhen addressing someone they are familiar with. —Literally, these two phrases translate as “to me you give”, but a more idiomatic translation would be “would you give me.” 

So, Spanish speakers say: 

  • Me da la cuenta, por favor. (May I have the check please?)
  • Me das tu número, por favor. (May I have your number please?) 

Translating sentences literally from English into Spanish is a common mistake, but generally it makes no sense whatsoever in Spanish!

common mistakes in spanish learners make - question from teacher

The best way to avoid this is learning whole phrases (or chunks, as we call them) in Spanish, like “me das”. This technique is called Conversation Based Chunking, and that’s how we teach Spanish in our videos and in our Spanish Academy.

3. Saying caliente to mean sexy

Usually, when there’s a spectacular creature, gringos go: “¡Caliente, caliente!“… because they’re trying to say HOT (as in sexy or good looking), but Spanish speakers just don’t say caliente to describe someone’s attractiveness. 

Colloquially, they say that a man está bueno or a woman está buena. If they’re super hot, then they’re buenísimo or buenísima

¡Ojo! (Attention!) There’s a huge difference between estar bueno and ser bueno. Estar bueno speaks of a person’s hotness, while ser bueno is all about how good of a person someone might be. 

También puedes decir (you can also say) that someone está caliente, but that would mean that someone is running a fever or it can evoke a certain innuendo that hmm… Let’s just leave it there…

4. Mixing up por and para  

This one is really hard. So, don’t feel bad for not getting it right all the time. At worst, you sound cute cuando confundes para y por (when mixing up por and para).

On this occasion, I’m just going to tell you about a situation where you might think you need por or para, but you actually don’t. 

In Spanish, people don’t look FOR things. Solo las buscan. —Yes, no preposition needed!

  • Estoy buscando las llaves. (I’m looking for the keys.) —Don’t say “estoy buscando POR las llaves”, okay?

5. Not taking advantage of refranes

At Spring Spanish we take advantage of learning in chunks (that is, prefabricated phrases that become second nature to you once you’ve seen them a few times). Some of the best chunks that one can learn are dichos o refranes (popular sayings or proverbs).

Dichos y refranes are the perfect tool to convey the exact emotions that you are feeling sin tener que aprender (without having to learn) lots of vocabulary and grammar in Spanish, and they give you the additional benefit of engaging with a native speaker in the right cultural key. 

So, learn them and eliminate any trace of gringo from your Spanish!   

  • Al mal paso darle prisa. (Best to get it over and done with.)
  • Salió más caro el caldo que las albóndigas. —The equivalent would be “the cure was worse than the disease”. 
  • Donde hubo fuego, cenizas quedan. —This translates as “where there was fire, ashes remain”… and we use it to suggest the possibility of rekindling past relationships.
    • ¡Hey, Paulísima! Guess what? I saw my ex yesterday. It was weird!
    • Hmm, pues donde hubo fuego, cenizas quedan.

Avoid common mistakes in Spanish with FREE Spanish Training

¡Muy bien! Now you know the top 5 mistakes that are keeping your Spanish in the gringo zone and, additionally, you’ve learned tres dichos that have the opposite effect! 

Now, if you want to be able to keep improving tu español, make sure you check out the FREE Spanish training on our website, where you’ll discover the method we use at Spring Spanish to teach students to speak fluent Spanish.

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