Top 10 Mistakes Spanish Speakers Make in English [ENG]

Having taught English in Spain for almost 10 years now, I think I’m pretty well placed to compile a list of my own personal top 10 mistakes that native Spanish speakers make in English. Before we begin, however, I would like to give an honourable mention to ‘Double Negatives‘ and ‘I Want That‘. I could easily have included them in the list, but nobody reads a ‘Top 12’, do they? If 10 mistakes just aren’t enough for you, though, please do check out the links.

I’ve ranked them from the least annoying (number 10) to the most annoying (number 1). If you happen to detect a note of annoyance in my words, I would like to politely remind you that it’s been 10 years. I’ve been correcting these selfsame mistakes for 10 bloody years…

covering ears

10. I’m Agree

Example: I’m not agree with my teacher.

Correction: I don’t agree with my teacher.

‘Agree’ is not an adjective and it’s most certainly not a noun. So why do you guys keep saying ‘I’m agree’? ‘Agree’ is a verb. Got it? It’s just a normal, regular, common-or-garden verb.

Eng1

So please, can we all just be agree never to use the verb ‘to be’ before we say ‘agree’? The world will be a more beautiful place if you can all just let go of estoy de acuerdo’.

‘I’m agree’ makes your teacher’s ear bleed. Got it?

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9. Misuse of the Present Perfect Tense

Example: I’ve heard this mistake in my last class.

Correction: I’ve heard this mistake.

I almost used ‘abuse’ rather than ‘misuse’ in the title but, out of kindness, decided not to. Maybe I’m being too hard on you all. I know you’re trying your best.

As a second act of kindness, I’ve also produced an entire blog post on exactly this topic. It’s great. Have a look. It’s called The English Present Perfect for Spanish Speakers.

To summarise, if it’s Monday morning, don’t talk about the weekend using the present perfect tense. ‘Cómo ha ido el finde?’ is not acceptable in English unless it’s still the weekend when you say it. It sounds wrong. It confuses us and we’re already confused enough because it’s Monday morning and we haven’t had any coffee yet.

‘How was your weekend?’ sounds just fine. Past simple. The weekend is over. Leave our poor ears alone. Haven’t they suffered enough?

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8. The Saxon Genitive

Example: I’m testing the patience of my teacher.

Correction: I’m testing my teacher’s patience.

The Saxon what now? Don’t worry about the name; I’m talking about expressing possession using an apostrophe and an ’s’ at the end of words. Patrick’s bleeding ears’ or ‘your poor teacher’s patience’, for example.

Of course, anyone able to read this post in English must already be at least vaguely aware of this form. Many of you, however, still won’t be using it enough.

Phrases like ‘the boyfriend of my friend’ sound really awkward in English and should definitely be replaced with some version of ‘my friend’s boyfriend’.

In fact, every time someone says something like ‘the friend of my boyfriend’, a little Saxon genitive fairy dies. Are you a fairy killer? Do you want fairy blood on your hands?

So say it out loud; absorb the sound. Isn’t it lovely? Say it again; my friend’sssssss boyfriend. Really accentuate that ‘s’. Close your eyes, say it one more time, and think about those lovely little Saxon genitive fairies fluttering merrily about. We native speaking folk love the Saxon genitive and you should too.

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7. English is a ‘Subject + Verb + Object’ Language

Example: The teacher wipes away with a tissue his tears. 

Correction: The teacher wipes away his tears with a tissue

Regarding the S+V+O thing, if you’re thinking something like “so is Spanish”, you’ll be pleased to know you’re right! The difference is that in English we actually maintain that order (inversions aside) when we form phrases. Listen, syntax is a huge topic and I’m not going to go into it too deeply here, but please do try to remember the basics. Here’s a good, if massively simplified, way to think about it.

Eng2

To be clear, ‘bla bla blacovers things like prepositional phrases and times; ‘on the beach’, ‘last week’, and other such phrases. It doesn’t cover adverbs. Words such as ‘normally’ and ‘quickly’ are not considered bla bla bla’ under my definition.

So the simplest advice I can give you is this:

just put the bla bla bla at the end of the sentence.

If you insist on complicating things, I’ll even let you do this:

put the time at the beginning sometimes (if you promise to use a comma).

But you have to promise me that you won’t put it between the verb and the object.

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‘I eat with a spoon soup’ is a really ugly, awkward phrase. It’s even a bit difficult to understand.

While we’re on the topic of syntax, don’t say ‘It’s hotter Spain than Wales’. Make ‘Spain’ the subject of the sentence, for heaven’s sake. Just say ‘Spain is hotter than Wales.’ Spain is the subject of the phrase. It’s as simple as that.

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6. Not a Single Schwa to be Heard

Example and Correction:

What’s the most common vowel sound in English? Is it the ‘a’ in ‘apple’? Is it the ‘e’ in ‘effort’ or the ‘o’ in ‘hotter’?

No, it’s none of those, but if you just said those three words out loud, you should just have used it… three times.

The second syllable of each of those words contains a schwa. It’s often called a neutral vowel. Listen below and practice pronouncing it. It’ll transform your spoken English, I promise you. It’s a thing of beauty and the inspiration for the name of this blog.

 

I know, I know, Spanish, once you’ve learnt a few simple rules, is more or less a ‘say what you see’ language in terms of pronunciation. English isn’t. Deal with it. Work on it. Listen well. Imitate. I know you can do it. Channel the schwa and save our ears from those harsh open vowels.

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5. Every Phrase Needs a Subject

Example: Is sad when a sentence lacks a subject. 

Correction: It’s sad when a sentence lacks a subject.

English verbs don’t have many conjugations. You guys are so lucky in that respect. If you don’t fully appreciate your luck, may I suggest you try translating the following phrases into Spanish and see how many verb conjugations you use?

I went, you went, we went, they went, she went

Did you have fun? So, when you say ‘Fuimos al supermercado without saying ‘nosotros’, it doesn’t matter becausefuimoscan only refer to ‘nosotros’. You don’t need to say it. It’s completely unnecessary.

If you say ‘Went to the supermarket’ in English, however, everyone is going to give you a confused look and say, possibly in a slightly annoyed tone, ‘Who?’

Now I’m sure you all knew that already so why do I keep hearing things like ‘Is good’ or ‘Is raining a lot’ or ‘is important to begin a phrase with a subject’?

What is good? What is raining? You’re not giving me the information I need to understand the sentence.

It’s good.

It’s raining.

It’s important to begin a phrase with a subject

If you remember one thing from this blog entry, let it be that.

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4. For To

Example: I’m only doing this for to help you. 

Correction: I’m only doing this to help you.

If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard some version of this mistake, I’d be living on a private yacht somewhere in the Bahamas. Fantastic for me but bad news for you guys. Who would point out all your mistakes after I was gone? Think of all those innocent ears that would just have to go on bleeding…

‘Para’ in Spanish creates all kinds of problems in English. One of its main functions is to express purpose. Look at the following example and see how ‘para’ explains why you are visiting this blog, thus expressing purpose.

Eng4

Please, please, please, for the love of all that is good in the world, don’t translate this phrase using ‘for’ in place of ‘para’. As a teacher, I hear various versions of this mistake:

‘For improve’, ‘for to improve’, ‘for improving’…

Guess what… they’re all wrong. None of them makes any sense.

Just forget about ‘para’. Banish it from your mind.

In English, we usually use infinitives to explain purpose and infinitives always begin with ‘to’. All you have to say is:

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If you want to be really fancy and formal, you can even say:

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But promise me you will never say for to improve my English’. You know what happens when you say it…

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3. Depend Of

Example: This mistake probably depend of your native language. 

Correction: This mistake probably depends on your native language.

A classic case of mother-tongue-interference, this frustratingly common mistake comes from depende de’ in Spanish. When you guys speak English, it often comes out as ‘depend of’, which is just wrong wrong wrong.

First of all, the phrase needs a subject: ‘it’. You remember that, right? Every phrase needs a subject.

Then the verb needs to be conjugated in the third person: ‘depends’. You really have no excuse for this one because depende is in the third person singular too.

Then we need to use the right preposition: ‘on’.

Now we can put it all together and say:

Eng7

There are cases where ‘on’ isn’t necessary. We can omit it when we useif / whether or question words such as ‘how’, where’, ‘when’, ‘how many’, ‘why’ and so on.

Eng8

But remember we can never ever say ‘depend of. It hurts me even to type it just now. I can feel the blood collecting in my ear canal…

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2. Used To

Example: I’m used to make horrible mistakes in English.

Correction: I usually make horrible mistakes in English. 

I’ve asked myself many times where exactly this annoyingly common mistake comes from and I can only assume it’s some weird mix of estar acostumbrado and ‘soler’. So let’s have a look at one of these weird sentences that you guys form sometimes:

I’m used to go to the gym at about 9am.

Is that something you might say? Be honest with yourself. The first step towards fixing a problem is accepting that you have one. I promise not to shout…

‘I’m used to go to the gym’ is just totally wrong. It’s like ‘soler’ and ‘estar acostumbrado’ had a regrettable night of sex, made a bastard son, and sent him away to be raised by the English. It doesn’t make any sense and it’s grammatically impossible.

There are two possible (and correct) things you could be trying to say:

I’m used to going to the gym at 9am. (Notice the ‘ing’ verb after the preposition ‘to’)

I usually go to the gym at 9am. (Notice we removed ‘am used to’ and replaced it with ‘usually’)

These two phrases express slightly different ideas and, from my experience as a teacher, you guys usually mean the second one.

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Remember, ‘used to’ can refer to past habits, but never present ones. You can express the idea of ‘solía, soliamos…’ but never ‘suelo, solemos…’

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I have a joke for you: Did you hear the one about the native Spanish speaker who said ‘I’m used to go to the gym’?

He died in a pool of ear blood.

        bleeding9

1. The People Is

Example: Why is the people so insistent on making this mistake?

Correction: Why are people so insistent on making this mistake?

There’s a very good reason this mistake is my personal number one and it’s not just because people say it all the bloody time. No, this little error tops the list because it’s actually two mistakes all rolled up into one. It makes both ears bleed at the same time. A lot.

The first problem, of course, comes from ‘gente’, which is singular. The English word, ‘people’, however, is plural.

If ‘the people is still sounds okay to you, please please please read the previous sentence again and then repeat after me:

Eng12

I’m sorry for shouting but this one is really hard on my ears. People is a plural noun. The verb has to be in the third person plural. Please, if only for your teacher’s sake, remember that saying ‘people’ is like saying ‘they’ and stop putting an ‘s’ on the end of present verbs.

People GO, people EAT, people SLEEP, people SHOUT SOMETIMES WHEN THEY GET ANGRY

As you may have noticed from my previous examples, the second part of our problem is the article. You see, in English, we don’t tend to use articles when we generalise.

If you want to say something like ‘La gente no presta suficiente atención a los articulos, promise me that you won’t just translate each word and say ‘The people doesn’t pay enough attention to the articles’.

It sounds horrible. It’s wrong! You’re talking about people in general and people is a plural noun. You’ve just made two mistakes. Take a deep breath and repeat after me:

People don’t pay enough attention to articles.

People don’t pay enough attention to articles.

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That brings us to the end of my top ten Spanish mistakes and me personally to a moment of quiet reflection.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I was so cruel to you all. I just get angry sometimes and say things I don’t really mean. You know I love you really, don’t you? Now, just before you leave, a quick note:

I produce all these posts for free and in my own time. It’s a lot of work. All I ask of you in return is this:

If you found this article helpful, useful, annoying compelling or even, dare I say it, educational, please share it using social media; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and so on. Let the karma both go and come around. ¡Hasta luego!

170 Comments

      1. Well, it’s hard to tell, indeed. But I wonder if these mistakes (or a good share of them) are equally common in French, Italian or Portuguese people; people whose respective languages derive from Vulgar Latin.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Interesting. I think that may well be the case. If anyone has any more comments on that, I’d love to hear them.

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      3. My ears! Help! I’m guessing you’re Spanish too, Santaklaus. Come back and read again soon 🙂

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    1. Do you, John McNamara, speak any foreign language without mistakes?
      Most of them (the mistakes you’ve just mentioned) are the result of learning a language with your own grammar unconsciously deep in your mind.
      In Spanish we say: “Estoy de acuerdo”, so we use the verb “to be” to express agreement… That’s where that mistake comes from.
      Another example, and you can use the same phrase “estoy de acuerdo” shows that we don’t need a subject in every single phrase. As you can see, there is no subject (which eventurally would be “Yo”) and it’s a grammarly perfect phrase.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think Mr. McNamara may be one of those mythical creatures that lives under a bridge but I’m still waiting for confirmation if and when he replies…..

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    2. I heard mistakes like these when I was studying English
      It has to do with how spanish works. I’m pretty sure every language has its own set of mistakes based in how their grammar works.
      (and sorry if I stabbed author’s ears a little more)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You didn’t stab any ears at all. For sure, each language has its own unique set of mistakes and, as a couple of commenters have mentioned, common mistakes among language groups. When I taught in Slovakia, I dealt with a completely different set of mistakes. Lots of articles (Slavic languages lack them) and that kind of thing.

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    3. Racism? Lol
      Its natural some mistakes are more commonly make by spanish speakers. We always try to make the sentences first in spanish and then translate to english, or looks into spanish grammatical structures.
      Of course its not only spaniards, maybe all spanish speakers; but if you read he have been teaching 10 years in Spain, so he can only speak about spanish speakers; maybe a mexican dont have these problems.

      Sorry if this answer makes someones ears bleed, but i am another spanish speaker with a really bad english

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Ubu. Thanks for commenting. Just for the record, the mistakes you guys make don’t make my ears bleed at all. Mistakes are great; they’re how we learn. I just wanted to make them stick in your minds; hence all the bleeding ear references.

        I’ll be posting once a week so feel free to follow me or come back another day. Cheers!

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    4. No racism here. All of these mistakes are made by Spaniards, and probably other native Spanish speakers. This is unadulterated, unfiltered truth.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha, cheers, Javi. As you know, I’m not making this stuff up. I teach here 5 days a week and I hear these mistakes….. a lot!

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    5. They are, because their root is trying to use English same way we use Spanish. If others share this errors is just because their language might be similar to ours.
      So I don’t get the absurd mention about racism, I am (and we should) be grateful to find such a complete post helping us to improve, depending on our level, because, of course, not everybody makes all this errors. It is obvious that they are simply some of the most common errors made by Spanish speakers.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. Hey Patrick,

      Fellow ESL/EFL teacher here…I also taught English in Spain for 8 years. Don’t be drawn in by this new breed of SJW. They 100% of the time confuse cultural idiosyncrasy for racism. When they want to act “incensed” for professionals pointing out problematic differences between languages and their accompanying cultural divergence from western, English-speaking cultures, they just reach for the “racism” card. Last time I checked, we are all part of the same race….the HUMAN race. So, put your SJW cape back in the closet and learn to be a happier person in life.

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      1. Cheers, Devon. I could have replied to that comment in so many different ways but I thought asking him to elaborate was the best one. When you ask someone to back up a stupid comment like that, you usually just get silence. In this case… beautiful silence.

        Feel free to get in touch through my website if you fancy sharing resources, blogs or anything like that. I’m always happy to connect with other teachers.

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  1. It would by nice if you have write the wrongs sentences in bloody red
    Will be more dramatic and easy to notice
    Anyway thanks , I enjoyed it

    Un saludo me ha molado mazo 🙂
    Espero más

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thanks! I’ll keep that in mind when I post numbers 11 -20. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for the next post. One a week is my rule.

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    1. Yeah, a couple of people have pointed that out so far. The shame! After all my talk of ear bleeding. I deserved at least one Spanish mistake.

      Like

  2. I’m Spanish and I’ve been saying “I’m not agree” since I learnt english! I didn’t know I’ve been wrong all these years!! I found it pretty helpful, Thanks!!

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    1. Great! Thanks for commenting. It really motivates me to know that I can help a little bit. There’ll be a new post each week, so please come back.

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  3. Neither you are cruel nor it is racism. It is just the truth. As a spanish learner I consider that my english reach another level when I am able to cut down on this kind of miskakes. That is why I consider so funny your post.
    If you want to write the 2nd part, you should consider another things as the misuse of “that”, misuse of present perfect, prepositions like in, on, at.
    Congratulations of your post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot, Ivan. I really appreciate the comment. People seem to have enjoyed this post a lot so I’m definitely thinking of doing another one for numbers 11 – 20. I’ll keep your suggestions in mind. Keep on studying!

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  4. Number one reason why spanish people don’t pronounce the “schwa” sound: We are TERRIFIED of sounding like a smartpants, of people speaking behind our backs: “Who the hell does he thinks he is? Shakespeare? LOL, look at him and his stupid vowels!” So, we state we are not like by saying things like “Apel”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so true! English people have exactly the same mentality when they speak Spanish. Sounding Spanish = trying to hard. Nobody likes a smartypants. Except we do! You might feel a bit weird doing it, but all the native speakers are thinking “wow, this guy speaks really well”.

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    1. Hahaha, it had to happen! I checked it so carefully, but there was always going to be at least one mistake. I hope your ears (or eyes in this case) are okay! I’ll correct it when I get a minute.

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  5. Man, you nailed it. Most of my compatriots make these mistakes, but the worst for me are “people is” and “I am agree”. I would say these are caused by the way English is taught here: we translate the texts from Spanish instead of learning how to think in English. Most of these are just bad cases of word-for-word translation.

    I will surely be sending this one to a few colleagues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Javi, especially for sharing! I really appreciate it. The more we can move away from word-for-word translation, the better we speak languages. I’m guilty of it myself in Spanish sometimes.

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    1. I was just testing you guys….. well spotted! I’m kidding, of course. It just goes to show you, we can all make mistakes. The important thing is that we learn something from them. I’ll never make this mistake again. You have my word!

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  6. Really funny and useful post! Just a question about the 8th point, I guess it sounds better just using Saxon Genitive, but it is really incorrect the other one? it looks so bad?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s grammatically correct but it sounds really awkward. It’s more a case of ‘no se dice’ than it being objectively wrong. It depends on the phrase. The example I chose sounds weird if you don’t use the Saxon genitive, but other phrases like ‘the Queen of England’ sound just fine. Could be a good topic for my next post. Leave a comment if that’s something you would read…..

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    1. Thanks, Angelica. I love getting feedback. I’ll be posting every week so please come back for more help with your English.

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    1. You’re absolutely right. How did I miss that one? But “nothing happens” (no pasa nada) 😉

      I’ll include that one in the next post. Cheers.

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  7. I agreed with most of your points however I believe the last one it is not just something Spanish speakers would say. I heard lots of native speakers using people as singular so maybe the grammatical rule is like that but the common used might differ from it.
    Congrats on the blog, anything that helps it’s always welcome.
    PS: I was amazed that you did not mentioned as one typical mistake the use of “J” instead of “H”, “Jotel” or “Jappens”. Every time I hear that sound my ears cringe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great comment, Raul. I’m sure that a few of these errors are common among various Romance language. The only time I hear native speakers using ‘people’ in the singular is when they say something like this:

      There’s many people
      There’s less people

      Those ones don’t sounds as bad (probably because native speakers say them) as the examples I gave in the blog post.

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  8. An excellent blog. We feel your pain! Most of this happens because of the translation method of language learning.

    Since 6 years I teach in Spain. During first year I live in Pamplona. I say my students they must to stop this. I have 48 years and I want have more, no? Other example is stop making parties. Stop practicing swimming too. It is usual to make mistake so don’t to worry. It get more easy if you assist a curse.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. Yeah, I often hear ‘nature’ when people really mean ‘the country’ or ‘the countryside’.

        I would say that ‘very like’ makes my ears bleed, but I think I should give that a rest.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Useful post, thanks for the good work. If anything, I don’t get the aggressive/ a bit patronising tone. It may discourage some readers from following your tips. It makes one wonder how well do you speak other languages and if you make no mistakes whatsoever. My ears, even as a joke, don’t usually bleed when a student makes a mistake in a language that is not his own.

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    1. Hi Klas,

      Mistakes are the mechanism by which we learn languages. That’s only true, however, if people point them out. That was the thinking behind my post. For the record, I make plenty of mistakes when I speak Spanish.

      I’m sorry that you found the tone patronising or agressive. I was just trying to be funny and get my point across in a memorable way.

      Well, each to their own…

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      1. Actually, I found it incredibly funny. I read the post at 5am, after a hard working shift when I eventually managed to go to bed so that I could get some rest. It made me laugh for more than a while. Then, I slept peacefully (no blood at all). I do consider making mistakes and the awareness of them to be the best way of learning. A teacher I had some time ago taught me something around those lines: ‘don’t be afraid of making mistakes, the more you speak, the more mistakes you’ll make’. So, every time I looked up at him and saw his ears bleeding I realized of another bloody mistake. That’s the way I could wipe away some of that red mess.
        There are a lot of us in the world, sadly some lack sense of humour. I DID enjoy your post! Congratulations!
        I hope your eyes don’t bleed very much while reading this.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you so much, Mery. I really appreciate your comment.

        I’ve had a few negative comments, but only a few and the ones that were really rude (or personal) don’t appear on the comments. The overwhelming majority have been really positive though and cmments like yours really motivate me to keep on blogging.

        Sense of humour is a personal thing, I guess. There’ll always be a few people who don’t find sarcasm to their taste. As I like to say… ‘meh’.

        You didn’t make my eyes bleed at all. I hope to see you here in the comments again. Take care!

        Patrick

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  10. Me hubiera gustado que hubiese escrito el artículo en español, ya que dice haberlo aprendido, entonces podríamos decirle los errores más comunes que comete un hijo de la gran Bretaña al expresarse en español.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I AM NOT AGREE WITH THE PEOPLE OF HERE.

    Come on… You have to deal with that mistakes and not to judge… Why? Because spanish have to listen extremely poor attempts of speaking spanish, and spanish don’t get angry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough. I was just having a bit of fun with you guys. I make plenty of mistakes when I speak Spanish. I love you all really.

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  12. I think we spaniards have the “White label syndrome” which is that we can’t sound too english or we sound like snobs, but we can’t sound like rednecks either.

    The syndrome is called “White label” because:
    – We pronounce the first word “White” in english and the second one in spanish, and that sounds ok to us.
    – If we pronounce both of them in english it sounds pedantic
    – If we prononunce both of them in spanish it sounds stupid

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a really good point. I think a lot of people are scared of sounding as though they’re ‘trying too hard’ and that it sounds painful. Trust me, from a British perspective, it doesn’t sounds that way at all. It just sounds great and we think your English is much better.

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      1. Yes, but I think Gotxi is referring in fact to Spanish people, not to English people. As we usually speaks in a Spanish listeners environment, we don’t wish to sound snobs, so we (conscious- or unconsciously) alternate good and bad ways of pronunciation.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah, looking back now, I think you’re right. I remember studying German at school and anyone who actually tried to pronounce a word even slightly correctly would be bullied endlessly. I guess those kinds of experiences affect us even as adults.

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  13. Hi, I think the “I’m agree” mistake is because in Spanish we say “Estar de acuerdo”, which they translate into “to be agree” and therefore they say “I’m agree, she’s agree…”. Are you agree? lol 😉

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    1. Exactly, Elisa. You’ve got it! In fact, most of these mistakes are what we call ‘mother tongue interference’.

      And….. I’m agree 😉 (That was hard for me to type, even as a joke)

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  14. As a fellow English teacher in Spain, i have heard these mistakes more times than i care to mention. The reality is when these mistakes are not corrected the first time they are made, it is really difficult to break the bad habit. I appreciate your humour in the article- bravo. I use a similar method in my classes, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
    But we need to remember communication is a lot more than words.
    I am sure a Spanish teacher could write an even longer list for the mistakes the Brits make when learning Spanish. 🤔 i personally have made some corkers 😂.
    Keep up the good work. I look forward to your next blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rebecca. Thanks for the feedback. Where abouts in Spain are you teaching? I’m in Barcelona. Feel free to get in touch (there’s a contact page on my blog) if you’re interested in sharing resources, experiences, and that kind of thing.

      You’re absolutely right about communication. I’ve seen from the comments here that my sense of humour goes down better with some than with others. No pasa nada – you’ll never be everyone’s cup of tea. I’m actually an extremely patient teacher.

      Good luck with the week’s classes. ¡Un saludo!

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  15. I would not have used “rain” as an example in point 5, since it is an impersonal verb in Spanish it does not have a subject. Impersonal verbs are always conjugated in the third person singular, but using a subject is incorrect in Spanish.

    Great post anyway, good job.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Kaphax. I take your point. I chose that example specifically because it’s a really common error. I have to constantly remind my students to use ‘it’ as the subject when they talk about the weather. Very few studets forget to say the subject when it’s a person but they really often forget with those ‘impersonal’ verbs such as ‘rain’ and ‘snow’.

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    1. Haha, please do! I love pedants. They’re my favourite people. Thanks for the correction. Every day is a school day and my Spanish has plenty of room for improvement.

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  16. Just my two cents.

    9th mistake only happens to spaniards. Spanish from Spain is syntactically influenced by French language, that’s why they overuse Present Perfect Tense (“Pretérito perfecto compuesto,” in Spanish) as an all use past verb. In fact it is a past tense, but it’s more complicated than that.

    About the 7th mistake, the title is misleading because Spanish is too a SVO language. Maybe Spanish is more syntactically versatile than English when it comes to place the “bla-bla-bla.” (In fact, every european language is SVO.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot for this comment. I’m going to look into that further. Maybe I could have phrased the title better. Constructive criticism is always welcome. Thanks again.

      I live in Catalonia and many of my students have told me that this present perfect mistake is much more common here in the north than it is in the south of Spain, so your comment about French influence makes a lot of sense.

      Like

  17. Querido profesor de Inglés:
    Yo te escribo en español porque supongo que después de 10 años viviendo en España hablarás español perfectamente.
    Soy profesora de Español y también enseño Inglés a españoles, precisamente porque sé dónde fallamos en inglés, cuáles son las diferencias, cómo pensamos y cómo en los primeros estadios intentamos comunicarnos en inglés, que es simplemente traduciendo desde nuestra mente española directamente al inglés.
    Como profesora de Español y habitante de Marbella, donde la mayoría de los angloparlantes no hablan ni papa de español y ni se molestan, te podría dar unos cuantos ejemplos que harían que tus oídos sangraran de compasión por tus compatriotas. Sin embargo, yo comprendo a mis alumnos y sé que cuando dicen “yo gusto”, “lavo mis manos”, “soy en España”, o “la máquina de tabaco no trabaja” están intentando comunicarse. Y eso por no hablar de cuando les intentas explicar que en español tenemos “tú, usted, vosotros y ustedes” para vuestro “you”.
    Si me lo permites, te recomiendo algunas dosis de paciencia y comprensión por el bien de tus oídos.
    Maribel Ortiz

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hola Maribel,

      Gracias por el comentario.

      Creo que hablo bastante bien español pero hago muchos errores, como todo el mundo. También estoy aprendiendo catalán y hago aun más errores, seguro!

      Intenté escribir el artículo en un tono divertido, de manera que fuera más entretenido y más facil de recordar el contenido.

      Te prometo que tengo mucha paciencia y comprensión con mis alumnos. Siendo yo mismo estudiante de español y catalan y sabiendo lo difícil que es, entiendo bien que los errores nos ayudan a aprender.

      Quizás no se ha entendido bien el tono humoristico de mi artículo. Cada uno tiene un sentido del humor diferente. Como decimos en inglés “you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

      Espero que vuelvas a leer más porque siempre me gusta tener feedback, especialmente de otros profesores 🙂

      Like

      1. No problem. Maybe we just misjudged the tone of your article. English people are not among the most foreign language educated people in the world, I’m afraid. As a Spaniard living abroad (Caribbean) I find it quite insulting, specially when we have to be extra patient with British people visiting our country and being (not always, but quite often) rude with our language and traditions.
        By the way, in Spanish we don’t ‘make’ mistakes, we ‘have’ or ‘commit’ mistakes. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I agree. I think native speakers of English (not only British ones) are often very lazy when it comes to learning languages.

        Nowehere in the post did I make any claims about the language skills of British people in general. I wouldn’t even try.

        What I did was spend hours of my free time creating a blog post that I thought would be interesting, funny and helpful for native Spanish speakers (not only Spaniards).

        I can’t speak about your anectdotal experiences of people being rude and I’m sorry that you’ve had some bad experiences with British people. There are a lot of us and we’re all different.

        Thanks for the correction. Cometer or tener. I’ll try to remember that. 😉

        Like

  18. I agree with many of them though I would have included the overuse of “for” in lieu of “because” (at least it’s quite common here in Mexico). Least of the reason out bugs me so much is that SOMETIMES you can use it like that but only sometimes. Meanwhile students tend to always do so which just doesn’t work. So u tell them to just avoid it plain and simple.
    Also surprised you didn’t include the overuse of articles. Is that because it’s a lengthier explanation?

    Oh, don’t forget the improper use of “actual/actually”, since they often think it means current/currently in some contexts it is hard to know if they’re using it wrong or right.

    And as many others have stated, it’s not racism, just an observation. And yes, each language has it’s own group of most common mistakes and sometimes chess can coincide with unrelated languages if there are some commonalities. For example Spanish and Japanese don’t have the English “v” (labiodental fricative), only the “b” (bilabial fricative) which can lead to misunderstandings, occasionally serious. A good yet uncommon example is how there is a Japanese ska group with a song where they say the line “my shiny Venus” (I think it’s also the title). Now when singing or speaking forcefully it is easy for a bilabial fricative (b) to sound like a bilabial plosive (I.e. “p”). Now do the math and you’ll see why those lyrics sounded offensive when they should have been sweet.

    Often we understand the why (especially if we actually speak the local language) but that doesn’t stop it from being wrong, or frustrating/grating, especially when the student hadn’t managed to get rid of the bad habit despite years of study and having progressed to more advanced levels (though in some of those cases part of the blame lies with previous teachers who let it slide or whatnot).

    P.s. Sorry for the length of my comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Tarwinia. Thanks for the comment and no need at all to apologise for the length; I could spend all day chatting about these kinds of things with fellow teachers.

      Looking back now, I definitely could have included ‘for’. You’re absolutely right; it’s one of the most common ones I hear.

      Having had such a good reaction to this post, I’m actually thinking about writing a follow-up. There’s no way that ‘for’ won’t be in the next 10. Do you have a blog of your own? If so, drop me a link. Also, if you’re interested in exchanging ideas, resources, horror stories….. get in touch through my blog. I’m always happy to talk!

      A blog post on pronunciation mistakes would be amazing. The ‘B vs V’ thing is huge and I’d love to get into it in a bit more depth. We could even collaborate if that’s something that would interest you.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

      Like

    2. Hi, Tarwinia.
      You mention the confusion between «actual/actually» and «current/currently». As I suppose you know, that is a typical example of «false friend», like «sympathetic», «in front of» and so on.
      In the other way round, it’s hard for Spanish speakers when we hear «eventualmente» as a translation of «eventually», that has a very different meaning. And so on too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to admit, Alfonso, I’ve been guilty of that one. I thought I knew most of the false friends but that one had slipped past me somehow.

        Like

  19. Siendo español soy el primero al que “people is” o “I’m agree” le hacen especial daño.

    ¡Me guardo el artículo!

    Mi error más gordo a la hora de pronunciar (y que esperaba que estuviera en el listado) pronunciar palabras como “Spain” como si tuvieran una E al principio 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gracias, Lochi. Eres la segunda persona que me ha dicho eso. Te diré lo que le dijiste a Anonima:

      “I’m fromS pain”

      Si lo dices así, es imposible decir “Espain”. Gracias por visitar mi blog. Espero que vuelvas pronto. Cheers.

      Like

  20. There is another common mistake that we make, and that is that (when speaking) we tend to add an ‘e’ to every word that begins with the letter ‘s’.
    In any case, I’m afraid that everyone’s ears bleed sometimes. I’m sorry for yours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent point, Anonima! I don’t know how I managed to forget that one. I remember writing this on the whiteboard once:

      “I’m fromS pain”

      It was the only way I could get one particular student to say it correctly. It worked in the end!.

      Like

  21. I’m a spaniard learning german and russian language (don’t worry… I’ve not let behind my poor english).

    All languages have “Falsche Freunde” (¿False Friends?). They provoke mistakes by natives like me.

    For instance: Gift isn’t a present in German… it’s poison. There’s a bunch of more complex examples with “Falsche Freunde”. Maybe, you already wrote about them ;).

    Terms like “Don’t have a cow” can’t be literally translated!

    Good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot. I haven’t actually written anything about false friends yet. (Yes, we do say it like that in English.) It’s a good idea; maybe I’ll write something about it soon.

      Your head must be spinning learning all those languages. I’m glad you haven’t left your English behind.

      No tengas una vaca!

      Like

  22. This is top, the article I mean 🙂
    Thanks for pointing out these mistakes and good luck with the blog, Patrick. It seems to be very interesting…

    I’ll come back for sure! Once a week at least 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, man. See you again soon and feel free to message me if you need any help with your English. I’ll help if I can!

      Like

  23. Just a comment and a question.
    A comment about number 9: I’ve read something about it in some other post, and is quite true that the Present Perfect Tense is not used in the South of Spain instead the Past simple.
    A question about the number 5: I usually see that, when you (English native speakers) write one to another through social apps (WhatsApp, Messenger and so), tend to avoid the pronoun. Hope you understand me, don’t you?
    Great and funny post, anyway. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Alfonso. Good stuff.

      Regarding number 9: Yes, another poster mentioned the same thing. I’ve started asking a few people here (in Barcelona) and they think it’s pretty likely to be caused by the influence of Catalan and possibly French too.

      Regarding number 5: You’re absolutely right. It’s not something I tend to do, but plenty of native speakers do. As far as I can remember, I’ve never heard it spoken, but it’s really common, as you said, on messaging apps. I think they only do it in the first person – mainly singular but possibly in the plural too if the context is clear.

      Cheers again Alfonso.

      Hope 😉 to see you again soon!

      Like

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