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20 common English mistakes by Spanish speakers.

As an English teacher in Spain, I often hear many of the same mistakes. Here is a list of the most common ones to help you!

1, Actually vs. Currently

  • ‘Actually’ means ‘in fact’. For example: “Have you graduated yet?” “Well, actually I haven’t.

  • “Currently’ is used to talk about the present. For example “I’m currently studying marketing at university.”

2,  “Do you know London?” (¿Conoces Londres?)

  • In English this means “Have you heard of London?” The correct form is “Have you ever visited London?”

3, “I have 18 years old.”

  • In this case the verb is different in English. We use the verb to be. Correct use: “I am 30 years old.”

4, “I’m constipated” (when speaking about a cold or flu.)

Constipation is a condition of the digestive system. A more suitable phrase would be, “I’m congested.”

5, Fun or Funny? (divertido vs. gracioso)

A common mistake made by English learners of all levels.

  • Fun is an uncountable noun meaning ‘enjoyment’. It is also used as an adjective.

  • Funny is an adjective meaning ‘amusing’.

6, Bored vs boring.

  • Bored is an adjective to describe how someone feels. For example “I’m bored, let’s do something fun.”

  • Boring is an adjective that means something is not interesting or exciting. For example “The movie was boring”.

As a rule a situation can be boring but not bored. A person can be either.

7,  “This doesn’t have sense.”

  • ‘Make sense’ is used when speaking about a situation or statement. For example: “That makes sense to me.”

  • ‘Have sense’ is used to talk about people. For example: “He has sense” (he is sensible)

8,  Pronouncing words beginning with ‘S’.

Spanish natives sometimes have trouble with the pronunciation of English words starting with ‘s’ adding an ‘e’ sound to the beginning. This habit can be overcome with practice.

9,  Career vs degree.

  • Career (profesión) is used to describe a person's work / occupation.

  • Degree (carrera) is a qualification awarded to students upon completion of a course of study.

10,  ‘Afternoon’?

In English the morning finishes at 12:00pm, quite literally after ‘noon’. Noon meaning 12:00pm in English. So afternoon is the period to time the comes directly after 12 o clock (midday).

11, Nothing vs Anything

  • Nothing means no single thing. Used as subjects of a sentence or question. “It has nothing to do with me.”

  • Anything means a thing of any kind. “I don’t have anything to eat.”

12, Take a coffee

  • When we speak about eating and drinking, we use the verb to have. This describes the act of consuming food or beverage. For example: “Would you like to have a coffee?”

  • When you use the verb ‘take’ this describes the act of receiving some food or beverage. For example, when speaking to a waiter “I’ll take a coffee please.”

13, In my house vs at home

  • We use the noun ‘house’ to refer to a building. For example “There are three bedrooms in my house.”

  • Home is a more personal way to refer to where someone lives. For example “I'm having dinner at home.”

15, “I’m agree with..

In English “agree” is a verb, and two verbs in the present tense cannot be placed next to each other. Correct use: “I agree with you.” / “I’m in agreement”

16, Say vs. Tell

  • Tell is used only to instruct or inform. For example, “Can you tell me what happened?”

  • Say is used for quotes, and when the receiver isn’t mentioned in the sentence, For example “Good morning,” said the teacher.

17, Remember me vs. Remind me

  • When we remember someone or something, we keep that person or thing in our mind. For example “I will always remember you.”

  • If a person or thing reminds you of someone or something, they make you think of that person or thing. For example “That song reminds me of summer camp.”

18, Explain me

‘Explain me’ implies that “me” is the thing you want to be explained. For example “Explain geography”, “Explain science”.

“Explain” requires “to”. For example “Explain this to me”

19, “Next time I will invite you for a coffee.”

In English this is only an invitation to join someone for a coffee. It doesn’t however imply that you will pay for the coffee. 

Correct use: “Next time it’s on me.” / “Next time it’s my treat.”

20, Make vs. Do

  • We use ‘make’ to describe something we are creating or building. “I am making my lunch”.

  • We use ‘do’ when we are speaking about general activities. “I’m doing my homework.”

Credit and thanks to the following people for their contribution:

Sarah Rossmeisl, Sara Riquelme, Elisabet G Blanco, Rachel Basse, Kegan Gates, Julia Christina Amer, Laura Gray, Elitsa Doncheva, Portia Ivy Ruth, Héctor LC, Juan Campbell Harris, Juliette Stoker, John Cunningham, Jaz Hughes, Natalia Aguilar Lopez, Anna McConaghie, Leigh L Pang, Cristina Grandía, Brianna Fitzpatrick.

Auxiliares de conversacion en MADRID (The Original) – Facebook group

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