Common Spanish Mistakes Foreigners Make


May 3, 2024

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Hola, ¿qué tal? This is Lucía, from My Daily Spanish.

Today I’m going to talk about very common Spanish mistakes I hear from foreigners and teach you the correct expressions and grammar. I hope you learn a lot from this blog.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

“Yo sé tu hermana” for “I know your sister”

It is a very common mistake among English speakers. “To know” in English, can be translated into two verbs in Spanish: saber and conocer.

Saber refers to something you have learned, something you know in your brain because you have studied or learned it.

  • Yo sé sumar (I know how to do addition)
  • Sé lo que es (I know what it is)
  • Yo sé español (I know [can speak] Spanish)

Conocer refers to knowing something or someone. You’ve heard about something or you know a person, something you cannot study.

Yo conozco a tu hermana (I know your sister)
Yo conozco este sitio (I know this place)

With this example, you will understand better:

  • Conozco esta canción (I know this song), referring to the fact that you’ve heard this song before, you know which song it is.
  • Yo me sé esta canción (I know this song). This refers to the fact that you know the lyrics of this song, you know how to sing it, or if you are a musician and say “Yo me sé esta canción” it means that you can play it. 

“Yo soy 25 años” for “I’m 25 years old”

In Spanish, we say “Yo tengo veinticinco años,” with the verb “tener” (to have), so it literally means “I have 25 years.”

  • ¿Cuántos años tienes? (How old are you?)
  • Mi madre tiene 57 años (My mum is 57 years old)

Another thing to be careful with in this sentence is the word “años.” You can’t say “anos.”

  • “¿Cuántos anos tienes?” means “how many anuses do you have?”

This is the Spanish letter Ñ (eñe), pronounced “Ña ñe ñi ño ñu.” (Watch video.)

“Estoy excitado” or “estoy excitada” for “I’m excited”

Excitado or excitada in Spanish means excited in a sexual way, horny. So be careful and don’t let dirty people mock you.

In Spanish, “I’m excited” is “estoy emocionado” or “estoy emocionada.”

“Puedo tener” for “can I have?”

¿Puedo tener? is the literal translation for “Can I have?” but we don’t say it like that.

For example, for “can I have a tissue?” it would be “¿me puedes dar un pañuelito?” This would mean “can you give me a tissue?”

When ordering at a restaurant, we can say:

  • ¿Me pone un vaso de agua, por favor? (Can I have a glass of water, please?) - formal
  • ¿Me puede dar un vaso de agua, por favor? (Can I have a glass of water, please?) - formal
  • ¿Me das un vaso de agua, por favor? (Can I have a glass of water, please?) - casual
  • Un vaso de agua, por favor (A glass of water, please) - casual

“Estoy bueno/a” for “I’m fine”

“Estoy bueno” means “I’m hot,” “I’m sexy.”To say “I’m fine,” it would be “estoy bien.”

  • A: ¿Cómo estás? (How are you?)
  • B: Estoy bien, gracias. ¿Y tú? (I’m fine, thanks. And you?)
  • A: Yo también estoy bien. (I’m also fine.)

“Es muy rico” for “It’s very yummy”

In Spanish, we say “está muy rico.” For English speakers, it is very hard to know when we use the verb “Ser” and when the verb “Estar” for “to be,” because both are translated as “to be” in English. But in Spanish they are used in different situations so it sounds very weird if you say it with the wrong verb.

For this expression, we use the verb “estar.”

  • Está riquísimo (It is very yummy)
  • Está delicioso (It’s delicious)

“Más mejor” for “much better”

“Más mejor” is wrong, because “mejor” already means “better,” and you cannot add “más” (more), just like you cannot say “more better” in English.

“Mucho mejor” would be the right translation for “much better.”

For example, if you ask a person who was ill:

  • A: ¿Estás mejor? (Are you better?)
  • B: Mucho mejor, gracias. (Way better, thanks.)

Or if you asked somebody to correct something and they show it back to you:

  • A: Así está mucho mejor. (This way it is much better.)

“Un tiempo” for “one time,” “once”

We don’t say “un tiempo” for this expression. We say “una vez.”

  • Lo voy a repetir una vez más (I’m going to repeat it one more time)
  • Yo he ido una vez a París (I have been to Paris once)
  • Solo hemos quedado una vez (We just met once)

“Estoy caliente” for “I’m hot”

“Estoy caliente” directly means “I’m horny,” so be careful if what you want to say is that you’re hot because the weather is hot.

“Tengo calor” is what you want to say for “I’m hot.” It literally means “I have heat,” but that’s what we say for “I’m hot.” You can also say “hace calor” for “It’s hot.”

Hace mucho calor (It’s very hot)

“Estoy embarazado/a” for “I’m embarrassed”

“Embarazada” and “embarazado” mean “pregnant.”If you say “estoy embarazado” or “estoy embarazada” people will maybe look at you weird because it doesn’t make sense with the conversation or congratulate you for your baby. “I’m embarrassed” in Spanish is “estoy avergonzado” or “estoy avergonzada.” But it is more natural to say “qué vergüenza,” which would be “what an embarrassment.”


Did you make any of these mistakes? Tell me in the comments!I hope you learned with me from this blog and that you enjoyed it a lot.
¡Hasta pronto! 

About the author 

Lucía is a native Spanish teacher from Sevilla, in the South of Spain. She loves languages and has experience learning various of them. She graduated from the bachelor "Film and TV studies" in Carlos III University in Madrid and enjoys making and editing videos for social media.

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