15 Mistakes That Make You Look Stupid in Spanish

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No one can learn a new language without making a few mistakes. Of course, that doesn’t make you feel any better when your cheeks are burning with shame after saying something incredibly stupid. If you’re learning Spanish then here are a few awkward mistakes to avoid:

1.     Mixing up your genders

One of the most understandable mistakes is that of mixing up your genders. By simply saying “a” instead of “o” at the end of a word I changed from a man into a woman many times while learning the language. Also, the world problemo doesn’t exist except in your (and Arnold's) head.

2.     Telling the world you are “excitado”

Don’t you just hate false friends? These are words which sound the same in different languages but mean completely different things. You will probably think that excitado means excited but it really means aroused. You've been warned.

3.     Saying “yo gusto

So, you think you have gotten to grips with Spanish conjugation, do you? When you are using first person singular you use “yo” and the verb ends in “o”. So how do you say you like something? Easy. Yo gusto. Err, no. This is one of the few exceptions and you need to say me gusta.

4.     Calling everything “bonito” when asked for your opinion

It is easy to find a simple word you like and keep on using it. However, you should find a few ways of responding when asked whether you like something. Lindo, hermoso and precioso are other options for certain occasions.

5. Saying “hasta la vista

Arnie said it but no one else in the history of the world ever has.

6.     Asking the shopkeeper if he has any “huevos

I made this mistake once because I didn’t realise that huevos aren’t just eggs but also part of the male body. You could ask, ¿Hay huevos? instead.

7.     Confusing “pecho” and “pechuga

Pecho is the human chest or breasts, while pechuga is the same but for animals. You don’t ask for pecho de pollo and you definitely don’t have a pechuga. Unless you’re a chicken.

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8.     Always using “el” before a noun

 Some people think that using el before every word is essential in Spanish. Don’t forget that feminine words are preceded by la and plurals by las or los.

9.     Asking where the “exito” is

We are back to false friends again, aren’t we? Exito isn’t exit but rather it is success or hit. You can buy Julio Iglesias’ exitos mas grandes (if you really have to) but you leave through a salida.

10.  Mixing up “caballo” and “cabello

Similar words are a nightmare to remember. I still take a deep breath and count to three before saying either of these words. Caballo is horse and cabello is hair. You don’t want a hairdresser to cut your horse.

11.  Saying “como mucho” to people in shops

How much? This is what you ask in English in a shop. I eat a lot! This is what you say in Spanish if you translate it directly.

12.  Telling people that you are “caliente”

Estoy caliente means you are feeling kind of erm… excited.  Tengo calor means you are hot.

13.  Thinking “hielo” is really “yellow

While your mind is still on English you will probably hear some Spanish words and associate them with English ones. Hielo is 'ice', not a colour or a whiny song by Coldplay.

14.  Not bothering to conjugate verbs

English language students can sometimes get away with not conjugating well. In Spanish you can’t. Yo ir a comer porque tener hambre sounds plain silly.

15.  Confusing “cajones” and “cojines” with other things

Argh, more similar words which mean completely things. Cajones are drawers and cojines are cushions. In both cases you are only one letter away from talking about men’s parts again. You don’t want that, do you?


Are there any mistakes you could add to this list? If you're interested in not making any more, consider contacting us for Spanish courses in your area.