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Readers Respond: How To Avoid Making Grammatical Mistakes in Spanish

Responses: 8


Making mistakes is part of a new language; but with some luck and study we can avoid repeating them. This is your opportunity to point out some mistakes that you have made but might not have if only someone had warned you. Or if you're a native Spanish speaker especially familiar with the language, what grammatical mistakes of others do you hear that mark them as a newbie? Or, what has helped you avoid mistakes once they've been pointed out to you? Or, which mistakes might you add to this list? What Advice Do You Have?


Remember if a noun is plural, make the adjective agree. E.g. la manzana verde (the green apple) and las manzanas verdes (the green apples).
—Guest Guest

Read and practice

Once you are at this level, you can only read and practice to improve yourself. Tips can only get you so far.
—Guest Adicks

Some "rules" not followed everywhere

When I was studying Spanish in the states, my teachers at all levels made such a big deal about using "el" and "la" with body parts as this article does. I'm guessing that's more important in Spain or other countries, not sure. But I've been living in Mexico for a year now with my husband and his family who are Mexican, and it is _much_ more common for people here to say "mi mano" o "tu cabeza." I feel like I wasted a lot of time pushing that rule into my head, when it wasn't very important. So, hopefully I can save someone else the trouble if they're planning on using their Spanish in Mexico. I can't speak for any other Spanish-speaking countries, but vocabulary and "rules" vary a lot, and just keep in mind that usually what they teach in school is more Castilian (Spain) based, even if they claim it's not, and the language varies a lot, more than the English between Britain and the U.S. or Canada, I think.
—Guest Chilanga

linguistically changeable pprepositions

Dependiente de = dependent on. Consiste en = Consists of.
—Guest nemoscit

Plenty of common mistakes

I've heard a lot of people (in my class anyway) say "mi gusta" when they mean "me gusta," and confusion between "estar caliente" and "tener calor." And a lot of "soy/estoy terminado" instead of "he terminado" or whatever after completing work. There's confusion between "bueno" the adjective and "bien" the adverb too (including "estoy bueno" for "I'm fine"), and a lot of forgetting the past participles for irregular verbs (e.g., "romper," "poner," "escribir," "cubrir," "decir" and verbs that look similar like "imponer" and "descubrir").


"Whom can I eat with" is still wrong. "With" is the preposition. The sentence translates to "with whom can I eat."
—Guest Soy yo

avoiding mistakes

When you avoid all mistakes, you're perfect. Just don't expect that. BUSCAR = look for, so why say look for for? The for is included. Como EN un restaurante.--You eat IN the restaurant--you don't go TO the restaurant then stop. You have to be IN. Tengo clase el lunes = I have class on Monday. Tengo clase LOS lunes means that you have class on MONDAYS, i.e. habitally every Monday.

How to think of "Buscar"

If you avoid translating "buscar" as "look for" and instead think of it as "seek" you'll avoid the "para" problem altogether. "Busco trabajo"="I seek work."
—Guest J

What Advice Do You Have?

How To Avoid Making Grammatical Mistakes in Spanish

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