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Common Spanish Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make

Common Spanish Mistakes Even Native Speakers Make

Learning Spanish is challenging for some and easier for others, but no matter your skill set, every student will eventually struggle with certain concepts of the language. Guess what—there are many common mistakes even native speakers make when communicating in their own tongue! Instead of your students or kids feeling dejected by these obstacles to the language, here are a few examples of Spanish mistakes that everyone falls victim to at least once.

“Must”—Certain vs. Probable

In Spanish, there are two ways to say “must”—deber and deber de. Many students and many native speakers use these terms interchangeably without realizing that they mean very specific things. Deber is a certain command, like debes beber (you must drink). Deber de, on the other hand, is used for probable sentences. For instance, the phrase debes de necesitar un trago (you must need a drink) isn’t a command but rather an uncertain thought based on circumstance. This mistake is tricky even to understand, making it very common for both learners and native speakers.

Vocabulary Redundancies

These mistakes are common among primarily native speakers, but some students can also struggle with vocab redundancies. A redundancy occurs when a speaker uses multiple words together that mean basically the same thing. An example of this within Spanish is subir arriba (go upstairs). Subir roughly translates to “ride up,” while arriba simply means “up.” Grammatically speaking, this phrase is redundant and incorrect. However, the use of redundancies is a cultural way for native speakers to add more emphasis to an action.

Irregular Comparative Adjectives

When comparing something in a sentence, most languages (English and Spanish included) use modified adjectives. Irregular adjectives, in English, are words that don’t change form by adding “most/more” before the word or “-er/-est” after. There are also three ways we classify irregular adjectives: adjective, comparative, and superlative. An example of this is “good” (adjective), “better” (comparative), and “best” (superlative).

All you really need to know concerning irregular comparative adjectives is that, in Spanish and most other languages, they can’t be placed together in a sentence. The most common example of this students and native speakers struggle with is más mayor. This phrase describes something or someone that is “more than” another (such as for age or size). Instead of saying “…es más mayor que…,” simply drop the más for the grammatically correct use of comparative adjectives.

Congratulations on completing this completely free lesson on the common Spanish mistakes even native speakers make when speaking! In all seriousness, these language mishaps (among many others) are important to understand. Many of them stem from cultural norms, so dismissing them completely can be offensive, especially for native speakers. However, you can both appreciate the cultural background of certain language quirks and educate students on ways to correct said errors. Additionally, most of these mistakes are more advanced and often appear in higher-level classes. If you are teaching younger kids, check out or Spanish for preschoolers here at Sonrisas Spanish to help improve your lessons.

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