It is difficult to learn a language. Some things that we learn are easy, but we make some mistakes many times. In this article, we talk about some of the common mistakes many Spanish speakers make when they are learning and speaking English.

  1. People is... In Spanish and Portuguese, we think of people as one group, a single noun. In English, we think of people as many persons. Because we think of people as many, we need to use a plural verb to go with our plural noun. This gives us “people are”.
    1. People are funny.
    2. People are meeting after work.
    3. In every culture, people are concerned about their children.

  2. J pronunciation as Y – The letter J is very difficult for people learning English. There are many words in the English language that start with the letter J, such as Jet, John, Jeer, Joke, Jack and many more. Many people who speak Spanish pronounce the letter J like the letter Y. If you do not say the letter J correctly in American English, people may not understand you. Here are some common words that mean something else if you do not pronounce the J correctly.
    1. Jet – Yet: Our jet leaves at 2 PM. If you don’t stress the J, “Our yet leaves at 2 PM” will be difficult to understand.
    2. Joke – Yolk: That is a funny joke. If you don’t pronounce the J, then joke becomes yolk, meaning the yellow part of an egg.
    3. If you are having a hard time pronouncing your R’s, try a tongue twister: Jen and Josh journeyed to a general store before jumping on a jet to Japan.

  3. I have 24 years – In Portuguese and Spanish, you say, “I have 24 years” to talk about how old you are. In English, you must remember to use the verb “to be” and then the age. You can use this pattern: person + to be + age + old.
    1. I am 26 years old.

  4. For to... – Spanish speakers use para + infinitive verb to talk about the reason they do something. Voy a California para visitor mi familia. When Spanish speakers learn English, many translate the sentence as: I am going to California for to visit my family. In English we don’t use for and to next to each other. The sentence should be:  I am going to California to visit my family.
    1. Tomo clases de inglés para aprender más. I take English classes to learn more.

  5. Take a decision/make a decision – People who speak Portuguese and Spanish use the verb “tomar” with the word decision. English uses a different verb with decision. In English, we use the word “to make”. Always remember, we don’t take a decision, we make a decision.
    1. We can go left or right. I need to make a decision.
    2. We need a plan for next year. We need to make a decision.

  6. Silent B’s – In Spanish and Portuguese, you pronounce words the way you spell them. In English we have many words with letters that are silent (letters you write, but you do not say). One example is the silent B. When B and M are together at the end of a word or B and T at the end of a word, you do not say the B. You only pronounce the M or T.
    1. Bom(b), Clim(b), Num(b), De(b)t, Su(b)tle, Dou(b)t

    It is important to look for letter combinations i.e. (bt) or (mb) at the end of a word. In most cases, the B will be silent.

  7. Actually and currently – The Spanish word actualmente looks similar to the English word actually. Unfortunately, these words do not mean the same thing. Actually means en realidad, and actualmente means currently.
    1. Actually, this isn’t a problem. En realidad, este no es problema.
    2. John doesn’t work here currently. John no trabaja aquí actualmente.

    Always remember: actually is en realidad, and actualmente is currently.

  8. Thanks god vs. thank god – Both expressions are a shortened form of “thanks be to god”. The person is not actually talking to God, it’s just an expression. We use this expression to show that we are relieved or happy that something good happened to us. For example, if you think that it will rain, and you are happy that it did not rain, you could say, “Thank god it didn’t rain.” Remember that we do not have an S at the end of the word thank.

  9. Lost/missed – In English, it is okay to say “I missed the bus” meaning you didn’t get there on time. We say lost when we had something, but now we cannot find it. For example, “I lost my car keys”. That means that we had our keys before, but now we cannot find them. Because of this, you cannot say that you lost the bus or lost a plane.
    1. We missed our flight to New York.
    2. John lost his passport and could not travel.
    3. Mary missed her dentist appointment and had to pay a fee.

  10. I am agree – In Spanish you say Estoy de acuerdo or I am agree. In Spanish, de acuerdo is an adjective. In English, agree is a verb. That means that we say I agree in English.
    1. I agree with you!

These are some of the most common mistakes made by non-native speakers of English.