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Semana Santa: the 7 Deadly Sins of the Spanish Language

Semana Santa and sins in SpanishIt’s time of arrepentimiento (repentance) and penitencia (penance): La Semana Santa (Holy Week) it’s here. Many Spanish Christians will celebrate this festivity along the country. It’s not easy to understand these traditions (procesiones, nazarenos, cofradías…) for a foreign tourist. Here, you will find a guide to do it. At www.spanishviaskype.com, you will be able to have a nice conversation about all Spanish festivities with our friendly teachers on our Spanish Conversational Course.

However, all speakers are pecadores (sinners), even native ones. The Spanish language has many tentaciones (temptations) and we need to learn how to deal with them. Of course, this pecados (sins) and tentaciones are the mistakes. Today we’ll analyze the most common ones.

The 7 Deadly Sins of the Spanish Language

All of our students agree on Spanish grammar’s difficulties. They might master some of them, but they are weak dealing with others; we’ve seen amazingly fluent C1 speakers mixing up ser and estar, or even struggling with the correct form of subjunctive. So, confesemos (let’s confess) our sins.

1. Lujuria: the verb ‘gustar’

La lujuria (lust) is the excessive appetite of sexual pleasure. Placer y emociones are expressed in Spanish by verbs like gustar and many others (encantar, divertir, interesar, enfadar, avergonzar…). In Spanish, the subject of them is the thing or person that causes the feeling to you (opposite to English):

Me gusta la comida mediterránea (I like Mediterranean food). The food is the actual subject, not me, that is the indirect object.

2. Envidia: ser vs estar

La envidia (envy) is the desire of other people’s achievements or possessions because of the lack of them. Envidia is what the verbs ser and estar might feel about each other. In other languages, there is only one of them (‘to be’ in English or ‘sein’ in Germany). This causes huge confusion among foreign speakers.

La fiesta es en el hotel y el hotel está en el centro (the party is in the hotel and the hotel is in the center).

3. Soberbia: Imperativo

Soberbia (pride) is a feeling of superiority against another person that causes a disdainful behaviour. Giving orders is an action that only few people can do but many others would love to do it, too. The imperative mode in Spanish is complex, as commanding itself.

Manda, pero no mandes sin un objetivo. (Command, but don’t command with no objectives).

4. Pereza: por vs para

Pereza (sloth) is the disinclination to exertion. If you only have ‘for’ in English, ‘für’ in Germany or ‘per’ in Italian, why not to use por in all situations? It’s exhausting to figure out when to use por or para. You may think like that but don’t do it! ¡Es un pecado!

Por su incompetencia, ahora tengo que trabajar el domingo para terminar el informe (Due to his incompetence, now I need to work on Sunday in order to finish the report).

5. Gula: personal pronouns

Gula (gluttony) is excessive desire for food that goes beyond the need. The Spanish system of pronouns can be accused of gula. There are many of them (subjects, indirect and direct objects, reflexive without preposition, reflexive with prepositions, for impersonal or passive usages…) and sometimes they are bound together.

Mi hijo ayer se me lo comió todo (Yesterday my son ate up everything). Notice I did not use any pronoun in the English translation…

6. Ira: indicativo vs subjuntivo

Ira (anger) is a feeling of outrage that causes a violent or furious response. Indicative mode in Spanish can feel this awful feeling against subjunctive. The facts, the truth, the real things (indicative) often try to prevail over the emotions, the suppositions or the wishes (subjunctive).

El español es fácil pero me gustaría que lo fuera más (Spanish is easy but I wish it would be more).

 7. Avaricia: los pasados

Avaricia (greed) is the longing to owning unneeded excess, especially wealth, power or status. Spanish verbal system suffers greed. It tries to control all factors that rule the time, mainly in the past: perfective and imperfective aspects, the periods of time of the actions and their effects, the frequency of the actions… In consequence, we have many preterite tenses, of course, with different endings.

Cuando llegué a casa, mi hijo estaba llorando porque se había caído. Desde entonces se ha caído muchas veces (when I got home, my son was crying because he had fallen down. He’s fallen down many times since then).

In conclusion, all of us might be sinners; the point is la penitencia, that is, the correction. On our Spanish for Different Levels Course, expiarás (you will expiate) all your sins. If you want to speak Spanish with no remordimientos (regrets), try a free trial lesson via Skype: you will earn your way into Heaven.

By | 2018-03-31T19:23:28+00:00 marzo 28th, 2018|Actualidad, Pocket Grammar|2 Comments

About the Author:

I was born in Badajoz (Extremadura) and I currently live in Bilbao (Basque Country). I studied a Bachelor degree in Spanish Language and Literature and an International House degree as a qualified teacher of Teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language. I think languages are the key that opens the doors to new cultures and I love teaching mine.


  1. Adrián 29 marzo, 2018 en 8:53 pm - Responder

    Hola Ángel, me encanta tu texto – es a la vez muy divertido, creativo e instructivo. Soy bilingüe español/inglés y reconozco muchas de las dificultades que citas aquí. ¡Felicitaciones!
    I will now switch to English to point out some of the syntactical and grammatical “sins” that appear in your English which, by the way, is very easy to understand. You clearly have a sound grasp of the language so correcting these will put you into the higher categories you mention. You seem to struggle the most with the proper use of direct and indirect articles. By the way, atonement for these sins is easily attained; at least 2 glasses of Rioja with some of the native teachers at the British Council in Bilbao every weekend for 4 weeks.

    1. Use the definite/indefinte article; e.g. Semana Santa is a time of (for) repentence, etc… The Spanish language has many tentaciones….The Spanish system of pronouns….
    2. When not to use the definite/indefinte article; e.g. we’ve seen C1 level speakers, with amazing fluency (no ‘an’), or better still, “we’ve seen
    amazingly fluent C1 speakers…”, “causes huge confusion” (uncountable noun), ” excessive desire for food that goes beyond need”, “control all factors that rule time”
    3. Phrasal verbs: “to struggle with”, “to agree on something”, “longing to own something”…

    Espero que esto te sirva para perfeccionar tu inglés escrito.
    Un saludo
    Adrián (con acento en la “a” y sabor español).

    • Angel 31 marzo, 2018 en 7:28 pm - Responder

      Hola, Adrián:

      Es un placer leer tu comentario. La mejor forma de ser un buen profesor es aprender cada día. Creo que en Bilbao preferirán servirme un “Txakoli” para mi penitencia, mejor que un Rioja, pero me parece más un regalo que una penitencia. Ya hemos corregido los errores que mencionas.
      Gracias por tus correcciones e intentaremos mejorar cada día en nuestros contenidos.

      ¡Que pases una buena Semana Santa!

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