4 more common mistakes Spanish speakers make in English


  1. I think I will not have the soup

This is not so much a mistake as a stylistic difference that sounds a bit wrong, or at least strange. In Spanish, it is common to start a sentence with creo que… but in English the rule is that if the sentence is going to come out negative then the main verb should be negative. Therefore:

            I think that no

            I don’t think so

            I think I would not change anything

            I don’t think I would change anything

This is not a hard rule since sometimes you don’t know what you want to say when you start a sentence I think… but try to have an idea because it will help you make less mistakes in English.


  1. Education

Many of my Spanish students make this mistake. It’s very simple to translate the Spanish educación to education but this is not always correct. In fact, in English we only use the word to refer to formal education such as school, university or maybe different forms of learning that you get through life. However, what it does not refer to is manners. How well behaved, how well brought-up, and how polite someone is, is not the domain of education.

            She always says please and thank you; she is well-educated.

            She always says please and thank you; she has good manners.

            Her parents educated her to have respect for other people. She has good education.

            Her parents brought her up to have respect for other people. She has had a good upbringing.


  1. People that they like cheese

In the world of relative clauses there are a number of errors that carry over from translation. One of the most significant is the doubling of subjects. In the above sentence, there are two subjects in the relative clause: that and they. We can, in fact, just use one. This comes from Spanish as a translation using que le gusta will inevitably double the subject.


            People that they like sushi

            People who like sushi

            A boy that he told me to shut up.

            A boy that told me to shut up.


  1. See/Look/Watch

Spanish has a couple of verbs that we can translate here (ver, mirar) but the words do not have the same differences in meaning as the English counterparts. See, look and watch are all different in meaning and cannot be used interchangably. See is a passive verb meaning that you receive an image in your eye and take notice of it (but it may not be intentional). Look is much more deliberate: look refers to the action of pointing your eyes in the direction of something in order to see it. Watch is different again in that when we watch something we do it over time in order to see the change or progression of a thing.

            I am going to look the football on Saturday.

            I am going to watch the football on Saturday.

            Did you look the new Kardashians episode?

            Have you seen the new Kardashians episode?

            Can you watch the house in the distance?

            Can you see the house in the distance?


Written by James R. McCance for Aston School

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