Common Spanish Mistakes Made by our Students (October)October is time of changes. The last breath of the summer weather opens the way for cold mornings, rains and leaves falling off trees. Our habits become steadier and we spend more time at home than before.

All those changes affect everybody except us. At, we are introducing our favourite section to you one more month: our students’ mistakes. As it happens with leaves in October, we expect these mistakes to start falling down and even disappear.

Today, we’re going to focus on mistakes, caused by false friends or phonetic similarities.

Tengo que sortear las fotos de mi viaje – incorrecto
Tengo que clasificar / ordenar las fotos de mi viaje – correcto
(I have to sort the photos from my travel)

Sortear’ is a Spanish verb that comes from the Latin word ‘sortis’, that means ‘luck’. That is what we do when we sorteamos algo, we raffle something among people, like a lottery draw. So, unless our student meant that she wanted to raffle her photos and give them as a gift to their teachers and friends, we imagine that she wanted to sort them or put them in order.

He estado cansado por 20 años – incorrecto
He estado casado por 20 años – correcto
(I’ve been married for 20 years)

Can a ‘married’ person be ‘tired’ for 20 years? We’re sure that our student didn’t mean that. He was actually married, and what about tired? Well some people might say that both terms are equal… but only humorously.

A mí me parece que las ingles son muy serias – incorrecto
A mí me parece que las inglesas son muy serias – correcto
(I think English women are very serious)

Groin (ingles’) can be very serious or funny, depending on the moment. However, our friend was talking about women from England, who are not, precisely, the life of the party, in his opinion.

Los chicos a esa edad son muy ingeniosincorrecto
Los chicos a esa edad son muy ingenuoscorrecto
(Kids are very naïve at that age)

We have a double mistake here. ‘Ingenio’ (ingenuity) is actually a noun and an adjective is required after the verb ‘ser’. In consequence, our student should have said ‘ingenioso’ (ingenious). Nevertheless, what she meant it that boys and girl, when they are very young, they are quite ingenuous. As it happens in English, both terms have a similar sound.

Me siento embarazado cuando hablo en público – incorrecto
Me siento avergonzado cuando hablo en público – correcto
(I feel embarrased when I speak in public)

This false friend is typical amoung students of Spanish. It’s difficult to feel pregnant if you are speaking in public, unless you are already pregnant or your audience give you a lascivious glance. Otherwise, what that person is feeling is ‘vergüenza’.

Although some of our students might be avergonzados if they read their own mistakes, we think it’s a good idea to learn from others’ errors. Don’t be ingenuo, and use your ingenio for choosing the best way to learn Spanish via Skype. Here, you will find many types of courses, all ordenados but no sorteados: If you want to try a free trial lesson, reserve one here. We can’t promise to you that you will get casado to one of our teachers, but we can guarantee you that you will not be cansado.