Spanish native speakers can easily spot a foreigner because of their accent or because of how they pronounce certain words.
If you want your pronunciation to resemble that of a native speaker and you’d like to remain camouflaged a bit longer, then this is an article you must read because we will go over 15 Spanish words that are usually (and frequently) mispronounced by English native speakers.
YOU might be pronouncing all or some of them wrong too! Or maybe not… Let me know in the comments section!
Day-to-day mispronounced words
You might be surprised, but some of those mistakes are made when using the easiest and most frequent words, such as:
- español (Spanish)
If someone asks you “which language are you learning?”, they might question that you are actually learning Spanish if you are unable to pronounce its name correctly. Say: Estoy aprendiendo español. (I’m learning Spanish.)
- gracias (Thank you)
This is a word you’ll use very often. So make sure you pronounce it correctly when saying something like “Estoy bien, gracias” after you’ve been asked “¿cómo estás? (how are you?).
- mucho (A lot)
Bear in mind that you should never elongate letter O, especially when it appears at the end of words.
Example: Ha estado lloviendo mucho hoy. (It has rained a lot today.)
- hotel (hotel)
Letter H is silent in Spanish. I know it might be tempting to pronounce this word as it is pronounced in English, but don’t!
Example: Escogí este hotel por su ubicación. (I chose this hotel because of its location.)
- acento (accent)
Most English speakers tend to say this word wrong at first. I know both words look similar, but they are pronounced differently.
Example: Este video es para que trabajes tu acento en español. (This video will prove useful for you to work on your Spanish accent.)
- adiós (good-bye)
These words tend to be mispronounced because language learners usually rely on their mother tongue to be able to pronounce words in another language. This is called interference by linguists.
Other mispronounced words
Other words that might be uttered under the influence of a person’s mother tongue, include:
- habitantes (inhabitants)
- Example: México tiene 126 millones de habitantes. (Mexico has 126 million inhabitants.)
- vehículo (vehicle)
- Example: Yo no tengo vehículo; prefiero andar en bicicleta. (I don’t have a car; I prefer riding a bike.)
- deporte (sport)
This word has nothing to do with deportation. It’s the equivalent of sport. So, you’ll hear it often in sentences like this:
Example: La natación es mi deporte favorito. (Swimming is my favorite sport.)
- idea (idea)
- Example: ¡Tengo una idea! (I have an idea!)
Verbs that are often mispronounced
- exigir (to demand)
- Example: Vino a exigir su pago. (They came to demand payment.)
- ejercer (exercise)
- Example: Exijo poder ejercer mis derechos. (I demand being able to exercise my rights!)
- balbucear (to stutter)
- Example: Estaba tan nerviosa que empezó a balbucear. (She was so nervous that he began to stutter.)
- hallar (to find)
If you pronounce the h in this word, you’ll change the meaning entirely. So just don’t pronounce the h, never ever, just don’t!
Jalar means to pull, while hallar means to find.
Example: Me tardé en hallar el camino de vuelta. (It took me a while to find the way back.)
- negar (to deny)
I’ve seen English speakers shocked when they see this word because they think it means something they’re not supposed to say. So, no, this is not the Spanish version of the N-word.
This means to deny. Therefore, it will prove useful when highlighting an undeniable fact:
No puedo negar que me encantan los tacos. (I can’t deny I love eating tacos.)
FREE Spanish Training
¡Muy bien! Now you know which day-to-day words you should pay attention to in terms of pronunciation.
If you want to take your Spanish skills to the next level, you should watch the other videos you’ll find on our channel. Additionally, you should not miss out on the free Spanish training you will find on our website.
By doing so, you will get free sample Spanish lessons and you will also discover the method we use, at our Spring Spanish Academy, to teach students to speak fluent Spanish without cramming grammar rules, vocabulary lists, or conjugation tables.