The Five Most Common Mistakes Spanish Speakers Make In English
THE 5 MOST COMMON MISTAKES
SPANISH SPEAKERS MAKE IN ENGLISH
It’s the common mistakes that really get us down... If only we could remember everything we know all the time, life would be a lot easier! We would never forget a friend’s birthday, or be stuck in an exam, and you would certainly make fewer of those small - but annoying - mistakes you often make when speaking English!!
But hey! Let’s be fair. Making mistakes is an important part of the language learning process and there is absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about it. That said, nobody wants to make the same old mistakes over and over again.
In an attempt to give you a hand (and this means to help you), we bring five of the most common mistakes Spanish speakers of all levels make when speaking English. You (probably) already know all these things, but if you manage to actually stop making these very common mistakes, your English will improve a lot!
1- People is
The word people is the more common plural of person, and so it should take the third person plural, not singular.
It’s not people is, people does and people goes.
It’s people are, people do and people go.
But here goes an extra tip: yes, the word persons does exist, indeed. It is often used in legal vocabulary and more restricted to official or formal contexts, as in "this vehicle is authorized to carry twenty persons", or in "no persons admitted without a pass.". You are also likely to see it being used on a sign in an elevator ‐ "Maximum capacity: 12 persons".
The word people is by far the more common of the two words and is used in most ordinary contexts:
A group of people.
There were only about ten people.
Several thousand people have been rehoused.
Nevertheless, in 99.99% of the time persons is not the word you want. So, this is how you should remember: it’s one person, but two people.
2- The university.
You don’t go to the university.
I went to the university, but my brother didn’t.
She’s going to the university in September.
The word university is only preceded by the definite article the when we use the construction The University of [name of the university], as in "I went to The University of Manchester" or "I’m at The University of Auckland".
At all other times, there is no the.
I went to university, but my brother didn’t.
She’s going to university in September.
He went to Cambridge University.
The same is true of the word school. We don’t use the.
When I was at the school, I hated it.
When I was at school, I hated it.
3- I’m studying a career
Speaking about university, when you’re a student, you do a degree, not a career.
I’m doing a degree in History.
She did a Law degree.
You do not do a career, which is a bad translation of the Spanish carrera. A career is the series of jobs that you do over a number of years, often in one area.
She’s hoping to have a career in the police force.
After a long and successful career, he’s retiring next week.
4- She told me if I can help her.
We don’t use the verb to tell when we are describing or reporting a question that someone asked us. In such cases we use the verb to ask, instead.
She told me if I can help her.
She asked me if I can help her.
5- I went with my couple.
No, you didn’t go with your couple. You went with your girlfriend/boyfriend, with your fiancée or maybe with your husband or your wife, or even (if you want to be mysterious and/or less precise!), with your partner.
I need to speak to my partner first.
He went to the movies with his girlfriend last night.
She wants to go to that new restaurant with her husband this Saturday.
The word couple refers to two things together (as in a pair or a duo).
I need a couple of tomatoes for this sauce.
I’ll see you in a couple of minutes.
The word couple can also be informally used to refer to an indefinite small number (as in a synonym for some, a few, one or two).
He hoped she'd be better in a couple of days.
I have a couple of things to do.
She met her girlfriends and they had a couple of beers.
So, you and your spouse are indeed a couple – but the two of you, together. Not only one of the two...
We’ve been a couple for six months.
They’re so cute! They make a lovely couple.
So, how many of these mistakes do you think you make? What other things that you are sure you know, but you always seem to get wrong when you open your mouth and start speaking English? Let us know in your next class at The British Language School. See you soon!
Tags: vocabulary, english, grammar, mistakes