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|FIFTY COMMON ERRORS IN SPANISH|
1. Almost always use the definite article with nouns. “Spanish is fun.” = El español es divertido.
“She loves working with children” = A ella le encanta trabajar con los niños.
“Freedom of the press is an important right.” = La libertad de la prensa es un derecho
2. Never use tener buen tiempo for “to have a good time”. Use divertirse, gozar (de), pasarlo
bien, disfrutar de.
3. Gustar, except in rare situations, is ONLY used in the third person (ej. gusta, gustan). That is
determined by the word(s) to the right of the verb. Multiple infinitives use gusta. The
preceding pronouns (me, te, le, nos, os, les) replace what is the subject in English. If you are
also using a noun (a name, for instance), you must use the preposition “a” in front of the
noun. Example: A Juan y a María les gusta cantar y bailar.
4. To express “to like a person”, use caerle bien. “I like my chemistry teacher” is Me cae bien
mi profesor de química.
5. “There is” and “there are” are both expressed by hay. “There was, “there were” is había.
“There will be”, habrá. The infinitive is haber.
6. “Because of” is a causa de or por. Porque de is never used.
7. “What” as a subject or referring to a general idea is lo que. Example: What you are saying is
false.... Lo que dices es falso.
8. Más mean “more”. It does not mean “most”, as in, “most of the class”.... In that case, use la
9. Poco means “few” or “small” in numbers or amount. Pequeño means small in size.
10. Bien usually means “well” and bueno usually means “good”. They are not interchangeable.
To express “O.K.” use Está bien. Avoid Es bien at all costs!
11. After a preposition (a, de, con, para, etc.) the form of the verb is always an infinitive. It is
never anything else.
12. Ordinal numbers (primero, segundo, etc) precede the noun except for kings and centuries.
They agree with the noun in number and gender. Cardinal numbers (the counting numbers)
also precede the noun, but only the hundreds numbers (seiscientos, etc) and uno agree.
13. The words that mean “time” are not synonyms. Vez is used when you are talking about
specific occasions (muchas veces, tres veces). Hora refers to clock time. Tiempo is
basically used with everything else, for example: Llegué a tiempo. Él pasó mucho tiempo
leyendo la novela.
14. “To attend” (school, a game, a concert, etc) is asistir (a). Atender means “to attend to
matters”, “to wait on”.
15. The most common words for high school are colegio, instituto and la secundaria. Anything
referring to college is usually universidad.
16. “High school” as an adjective (high school sports) is escolar(es) or secundario. “College” as
an adjective is universitario.
17. Esperar and buscar are generally not followed by the preposition por bceause the idea of
“for” is contained in the verb. Estoy esperando el tren. Tengo que buscar mi gato. The
exception of course is when the direct object is a person, then the personal “a” must be
used: Estoy esperando a mi novia. Tengo que buscar a mi hermanito.
18. The word for “other” or “another” is otro. There is no such thing as un otro.
19. “No” in front of a noun is ningún, ninguna, etc.. (“No teacher was there”.....Ningún profe
20. With parts of the body and articles of clothing, use the articles and not the possessives. It’s
la mano, not mi mano.
21. To ask a question is hacer una pregunta. To ask (question implied) is preguntar. To ask for,
request (a date, a favor, the car, etc.) is pedir.
22. “Long” is largo. “Tall” is alto. “He is six feet tall”.....El es seis pies de alto. You can also use
the verb medir... El mide seis pies.
23. Grande means “big” or “large”. Largo means “long”. Gran in front of a noun means “great.”.
24. To think, believe = creer or pensar. There used to be a difference, but that has faded mostly.
To think about (a person or a concept) = pensar EN. To think about (to have an opinion
about) = pensar DE. To intend or plan to = pensar + infinitive.
25. Never use en with days of the week. Just use the article - el or los - with the day. The plurals
of the days are the same as the singular (el lunes, los lunes) except for sábado and
26. There are several different expressions for “to become”:
ponerse + adjective = to become sick, mad, etc.
hacerse + noun = to become (friends, etc)
llegar a ser + noun = to become something after a lot of effort (a doctor, etc)
convertirse en = to change (conversion) into, for example: “We were friends and then we
volverse = to change into but in a quick or dramatic fashion. El líquido se volvió rojo.
Ella se volvió loca.
27. Que is used as “that” only in connecting parts of a sentence (“The hat that I bought”.... La
gorra que compré). In front of a noun, use ese, esa, esos, or esas, so as to point something
out. (“that hat”....esa gorra)
28. Amar is to love, mostly in the male-female sense. In expressions like “I love football”, it is
better expressed using encantar, fascinar, etc. Those verbs are used like gustar. El amor is
the noun. The expression for “to fall in love with” is enamorarse de. The expression for “to be
in love with” is estar enamorado de.
29. Salir means to leave, to go out of. Salir para means to leave for. To express “to leave” in the
sense of going use irse, for example: “I’m leaving now”. = Me voy ahora. Don’t leave = No
30. The opposite of salir is volver (to return). Dejar means to leave (behind). It requires a direct
object (book). The opposite of dejar is devolver (to return, give back). Revolver means to stir,
to scramble. To return is volver or regresar (to return home).
31. The following suffixes always indicate feminine words: -ción, -sión, -dad, -ie, -ud.
32. The suffix -ma often indicates a masculine word. Examples: problema, poema, drama,
sistema. Exceptions are cama, dama, fama, and alma . ¡OJO!: El alma es pura. This is
because alma begins with an accented “a”.
33. In order to say “together”, use a form of juntos. In order to say “both” use ambos.
34. The expression for “to have to do something ” is tener que + infinitive. (I have to go - tengo
que ir). “To be supposed to” is usually written as haber de + infinitive. (We are supposed to
be there by 7:30 ..... Hemos de estar allí para las 7,30). “To ought to” or should” is deber
(de) + infinitive. (We should go now..... Debemos salir ahora).
35. “Would” as a past tense idea in English is habitual action and is written in the imperfect in
Spanish. Every summer we would go to the countryside.....Todos los veranos íbamos al
36. The idea of “ago” is expressed with hace + time + preterite tense.
ej. El nuevo presidente de México fue elegido hace un mes.
37. The idea of “having been doing something” is expressed with Hace + time + present tense +
que or present tense + desde hace + time.
ej. Hace cinco años que estudio español. o Estudio español desde hace cinco años.
38. The idea of “had been doing something” is expressed with Hacía + time + que + imperfect
tense or by Imprefect tense + desde hacía + time.
ej. Hacía tres días que estaban casados Martín y Angélica cuando ella se fue.
Martín y Angélica estaban casados desde hacía tres dias cuando ella se fue.
39. “To realize” when referring to a mental state is darse cuenta de. “When I realized that they weren’t going to win”......Cuando me di cuenta de que no iban a ganar....
40. Realizar means “to realize” in the sense of to fulfill, for example, to realize a plan , a dream ,
etc. “He realized his dream of becoming a pilot.” = El realizó su sueño de ser piloto.
41. “To look like someone” is parecerse a. “My brother looks a lot like my father”... Mi hermano
se parece mucho a mi padre.
42. The verbs seguir and continuar are followed by the present participle, not by an infintive.
ex. Sigue trabajando. “Keep on working”. Ella continúa charlando.... “She continues to chat”.
43. “To meet” a person for the first time is conocer a una persona. “To meet” in the sense of to
run into is encontrarse con una persona or tropezar con una persona.
44. “Success” is el éxito. “To be successful” is tener éxito. Un suceso means “an event”.
45. A school subject is una asignatura or una materia. Un sujeto means “the subject” of a
46. “To experience” is experimentar.
47. “To drive someone somewhere” is llevar en (carro). “Can you drive me to the mall?” = ¿Me
puedes llevar al centro comecrial?
48. La atmósfera refers to the earth’s atmosphere. Use ambiente to refer to “atmosphere” is the
sense of ambience. ej. El restaurante tenía un ambiente muy agradable. El medio ambiente,
of course, means “the environment”.
49. “To try to do something” is tratar de + infintivo . “To try hard” is esforzarse (ue), fo example,
“I tried really hard during the cross country race” = Me esforcé mucho durante la carrera de
“Try harder” = ¡Esfuérzate más!
50. “To thank” someone is dar gracias. “I thanked him for his help.” = Le di gracias por su
A more formal expression is agradecer, which means “to thank” someone, “to be grateful”
to someone for something, for example. “Thank you for your interest in the position.” = Le
agradezco su interés en el puesto. “Thanks a lot”, of course, is Muchas gracias.