7 Common (and hilarious) mistakes in Spanish... and how to avoid them!

learn spanish online May 14, 2021

Mistakes are absolutely essential in the learning process, most of them are harmless and people will generally know what we mean, but some can put us in a bit of an awkward situation…

Let’s take a look at 7 of the most common and very funny mistakes that English speakers make in Spanish and what to say instead to avoid them: 

 1. Estoy embarazado/a

 Looking at the word “embarazado/a” clearly looks like “embarrassed”, right? So, intending to say “I’m embarrassed”, many people say “estoy embarazado/a” and what they’re really saying is “I’m pregnant”... Particularly funny in a male’s case!

What you should say instead is “Estoy avergonzado/a”


 2. Quiero introducirte a mi amigo

 In this phrase it can be easily deduced that a person is trying to say “I want to introduce you to my friend”. However, “introducir” doesn’t work in this situation as it means “to introduce”, but in the sense of “to insert, to put something inside” so what the person is saying is “I want to put my friend inside you”!

What you should say instead is “Quiero presentarte a mi amigo” 


 3. Tengo (40) anos

 When an English speaker learns how to talk about age, they soon learn that in Spanish it’s formed with the verb “to have” rather than “to be”. So, we would say “I have 40 years”. Once a learner remembers this, it is extremely common to hear “tengo 40 anos” intending to say “I’m 40 years old”...

However, in Spanish, there is an additional letter in the alphabet, letter “ñ”. And the squiggle is not a punctuation or accent mark, it’s part of what this letter looks like and it’s pronounced like (eh-nyeh)

So, by saying, “tengo 40 anos”, you’re really saying… I have 40 anuses!!!

What you should say instead is “tengo (40) años” (ah-nyohs)


 4. Estoy caliente

 Another common mistake between verbs “to have” and “to be”. When trying to say that “you're hot”, you need to say “tengo calor”. Otherwise,by saying “estoy caliente” what you’re really saying is… I’m sexually aroused!!!


5. Estoy excitado/a

 Excitado/a clearly looks like “excited”, but similar to the previous example, if you say “estoy excitado/a” it means that you are sexually turned on as well! 

So, to say that you are excited, you need to say “estoy emocionado/a”


 6. Preservativos

 Another potentially embarrassing false friend is the word “preservativos”. It obviously looks like “preservatives” in English, but it actually means “condoms” in Spanish!

So if you are trying to avoid preservatives in food, better not to say “sin preservativos” because you will be saying “without condoms”!

Instead, you should say “sin conservantes”


 7. Soy aburrido/a

Finally, a typical mistake for learners of Spanish is to confuse verbs “ser” y “estar”, both “to be”. In this example, what a person is most likely trying to say is “I’m bored”. However, what they’re really saying is… “I’m boring”! 

So, to say that you are bored, you need to say “¡estoy aburrido!”

Have you ever said any of these? Or something else which wasn’t what you meant, but had a completely different meaning?

Pete and I could certainly share a few stories… Like when Pete was trying to convince my sister at a butcher’s here in the UK to try “las salchichas de cerdo y perro” (pork and “dog” sausages!!!)

You can imagine my sister’s shock and confusion before they realised that he meant “puerro”... Leek!!! 😂

 Feliz día,


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