Most common mistakes Spanish speakers make when communicating in English – Part 1

  1. “I have a doubt”

Nooo no no… What you want to say is “I have a question”. In English- doubt means that you don’t believe something/someone. This is a classic example of when translating something in your head directly from one language to another just simply doesn’t work.

  1. “I am agree”  or  “Are you agree?”

Another example of the perils of direct translation. What you should say instead is simply “I agree” or “do you agree?” In English, we cannot insert the verb to be in there.

  1. “People in Colombia works a lot.”   or    “The people in my company is happy.”

Any English teacher that works with Latinos will probably agree that this is one of the most common mistakes they hear on a daily basis. Even advanced students are commonly guilty of this one. Just try to remember, people should always be treated as a plural noun. So you should say “People in Colombia work a lot” or “The people in my company are happy.”

  1. “I have thirty two years”  or   “She is thirty years.”

When talking about age in English, we always use the verb to be. Also, if the context is clear, you don’t need to include “years old.” It’s actually more common to leave it out. BUT, you cannot put only “years”, you have to include “years old” together. So the correct way would be “I am thirty two” —  “She is thirty years old” or simply “She is thirty”

  1. Pronunciation of the TH sound  (θ or ð in the phonetic alphabet)

A student may want to say “I am thirty three” but unfortunately, it may actually sound like “I am dirty tree” So yea, it’s pretty important that you learn to produce this sound correctly sooner than later. This TH sound does not exist in the Spanish language, so it’s especially difficult for students to master.

My biggest recommendation- you have to stick your tongue out. It feels really weird for students at first, but to accurately produce this sound, your tongue needs to touch your upper teeth. If not, you will continue to be a dirty dirty tree.

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