Common Spanish errors
Common mistakes and pitfalls for English speakers learning and studying Spanish


I was sitting in a bar speaking to Sole who is a Spanish poet and teacher of Spanish at Granada University. I asked her to tell me the most common errors of English speakers that come to mind. So, on this page we will focus on errors and mistakes. First we will look at ways of talking about errors and mistakes and then we will use the examples that Sole gave me.

Put your foot in itMeter la pata
You've got the wrong number (on the phone)Se ha equivocado
It was a serious mistake to trust him.Fue un grave error confiar en él.
Sorry, my mistake. lo siento, es culpa mía.
a spelling mistakeuna falta de ortografía
to make a mistakecometer un error
Don't worry! We all make mistakes sometimes.¡No te preocupes! Todos nos equivocamos alguna vez.
I mistook you for your brother.Te confundí con tu hermano.
If you think I am lying, you’re sadly mistaken.Si crees que miento, estás muy equivocado.
He doesn’t make allowance for mistakes.No acepta ningún error.
to back the wrong horse hacer una mala elección
Don’t get the wrong idea.No me malinterpretes.
Put me right if I’m wrong.Corrígeme si me equivoco.
Don't get the wrong end of the stick.No coja el rábano por las hojas.
I really put my foot in it with María. He pegado un patinazo con María.
I really messed things up at work.La he cagado en el trabajo (vulgar).
I have behaved myself very badly with you.He tenido muchos fallos contigo.
What a stupid mistake!¡Qué fallo!
I got the third question wrong in my exam.En mi examen he fallado en la tercera pregunta.
Typical errors and mistakes in Spanish by English speakers
The words and examples are provided by Sole, a Spanish teacher at Granada university. To make it clear we are going to use this colour scheme:
Blue: the title
Light blue: the mistake
Yellow: explanation
White: correct examples
I didn't realise*No me realicé*
"Realizar": means: to carry out, execute, to make, to conduct.
If you want to say "realise" in Spanish you have to say: Darse cuenta: See examples.
When I went to call you, I realised that I had lost your number.Cuando fui a llamarte me di cuenta de que había perdido tu número.
Only when he had gone did she realise that she loved him.Solamente, cuando él se había ido, ella se dio cuenta de que lo quería.
I asked for a beer. I ordered a beer. *pregunté por una cerveza*
Preguntar = ask (when you want to know something)
Pedir = ask for (when you want something)
I asked her where she lived.Le pregunté dónde vivía.
I asked him for a cigarette.Le pedí un cigarro.
Did you buy the tickets for the cinema? *¿Compraste los billetes para el cine?*
"Billetes" are for travel tickets. We use "entradas" for ticket to the theater or cinema or "espectáculos".
By the way: a showing in the cinema is the "el pase" or "la sesión" A performance at the theatre is "la función"
There aren't any tickets left for the 8 o'clock showing.No quedan entradas para el pase de las ocho.
I am looking for my book. *Estoy mirando para mi libro*
"Mirando para" doesn't exist, it's a literal translation from English. You can use "buscar" but it has no preposition.
Note: When the thing we are looking for is a person we add "a" after "buscar"
See examples.
I've looked for my keys everywhere and I can't find them.He buscado mis llaves por todas partes pero no las he encontrado.
I am looking for John so I can give him this book. Estoy buscando a John para dejarle este libro.
My oldest/youngest brother *Mi hermano más viejo/joven*
You have to use "mayor" or "menor"
My oldest brother lives in ParisMi hermano mayor vive en París
Diane is my youngest daughter.Diane es mi hija menor.
Diane es mi hija pequeña.