DON’T Make These 5 Funny Spanish Mistakes (+ What to Say Instead)
¡Hola, mi gente! Yo soy Paulisima, de Spring Spanish. In this video I’m going to show you 5 funny and embarrassing mistakes I hear Spanish students make ALL the time and what to say instead, so YOU don’t make a fool of yourself with these funny Spanish mistakes!
Solo tengo una pregunta (I only have one question): Do YOU make them as well? Let’s find out!
1. Are you really expecting a child?
So, I went to the movies with a Canadian friend of mine. She speaks Spanish.
She accidentally threw away our tickets into the rubbish when throwing away some dirty napkins. So, we have no tickets… We go to the security guard and she says:
- Disculpe, estoy embarazada, pero tiré los boletos a la basura. ¿Nos deja entrar, por favor? (Excuse me, I’m pregnant, but I threw our tickets into the garbage. Could you let us in, please?)
Did you hear that she said: “estoy embarazada” (I’m pregnant) I start laughing. She made a classic mistake: she wanted to say “I’m embarrassed”, which would be “Qué pena” or “Qué vergüenza”, but she said estoy embarazada, which means “I’m pregnant” — and there is nothing to be ashamed of if that’s the case, of course!
The story doesn’t stop here, though! The guard, a woman too, thought my friend was actually pregnant, so she replied:
- Sí, yo también cuando estaba embarazada, me confundía y tiré algunas cosas por accidente. (Oh, yes! When I was pregnant I too used to get confused and throw things away by accident).
She thought my friend was really pregnant! Now, my friend also gets confused… and I just can’t stop laughing!
Long story short: avoid confusion! If you’re embarrassed, don’t say estoy embarazada (I’m pregnant) say “Qué verguenza” (how embarrassing) or, if you’re in Mexico, “Qué pena” (how embarrassing, used in Mexico). Ay, qué pena, Dios mío. (Oh, how embarrassing, my God.)
2. Is everything alright with your crotch? Accents are crucial!
Let’s say you’re just learning nationalities in Spanish, and you happen to be from Manchester. You are not paying attention to accent marks and you want to say you’re English… but you end up saying:
- Soy ingles. (I’m the groin area.)
Todos en tu clase se ríen, más tu maestro. (Everyone in your class laughs, your teacher too.)
You’re not the groin area, of course! But the Spanish words ingles (groin) and inglés (English) are very similar. The only thing that tells ingles (groin) and inglés (English) apart is the accent mark. Not “soy ingles” (I’m the groin area) but “soy inglés” (I’m English) This indicates that the syllable that has it must be stressed.
Remember that that little accent mark indicates that that vowel needs to be stressed.
Same thing happens with words like:
- papa (potato)
- papá (father)
Actually, there’s a third meaning, Papa (Pope), but we never say Papa, we always say El Papa (The Pope).
This one is quite harmless, but you don’t want to get mamá (mother) and mama (to suck) mixed up! Mama means “to suck”, and it is also a proper term for mammary glands. Do you see the endless possibilities of double meaning?
So, pay close attention to the way a word is pronounced in Spanish. Listen to as much Spanish as you can and look for phrases that keep popping up in conversations among natives.
3. Don’t say “Estoy Caliente”!
I made a whole video about this one! In Spanish, if you are feeling the effects of heat, you say…
¡Tengo calor! (Literally, I have heat) or hace calor (it’s hot in here) If you translate directly from English, you’d say “¡Estoy caliente!” (I’m horny), but you would be suggesting that you’re horny! And you don’t want that!
The thing is that one would say this in a situation of, you know, heat… probably crowded… you’re probably wearing summer clothes, showing a bit of skin… And then you go and basically say “I’m horny!” (¡Estoy caliente!)
See how it could be very funny for us Spanish speakers?
4. To be or not to be? Mixing up “ser” and “estar”
The best part is that Spanish speakers learning English make the same mistake in English! There is a huge difference between (I’m bored) and Soy aburrido (I’m boring).
It is hilarious and cute when a Spanish learner says “Soy aburrido” when they really mean “Estoy aburrido”. It’s like, “Aww, honey, no! You’re not boring… You’re just not Mexican!”
The problem is that, in Spanish, the verb “to be” is split into two parts (ser and estar) and it can get terribly confusing to understand when to use which. But we got your back, Mariana from Spring Spanish made a video about the subject. Check it out!
Another one where mixing up ser and estar causes problems is saying “Está rica” to mean “she is rich”. If you wanted to say someone is rich, you have to use “ser” instead of “estar”. You’d have to say es rica (she’s rich).
If you say that a person “está rica” (yummy, dreamy), you’re saying that such a person is… yummy, dreamy! And even though this is funny, you might not want to say that in front of your Mexican partner!
5. Preservativos are not preservatives
We have some false friends again! In Spanish, a lot of people use the word “preservativo” (condoms) for “condoms”. So, if you’re with your friends talking…
- Yo prefiero consumir local, orgánico, y sin preservativos. (I prefer to consume local, organic, and without condoms.)
You are NOT saying “I prefer to consume local, organic, without preservatives”, you are really saying “I prefer to consume local, organic, without condoms”!
And considering that Mexicans, in general, love albures (Mexican puns that are charged with sexual innuendo), you can see how saying preservativos (condoms) instead of conservadores (preservatives) can end up being at the center of a good round of laughter! But all in good spirits!