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Archive for the 'Spanish Alphabet' Category

Is Spanish Hard to Learn, and Should You Start Learning?

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There are many reasons why you should learn Spanish, and truth be told, everyone who’s looking to learn has their own special reason. Some learners might want to move to a Spanish-speaking country, while others might have a Spanish-speaking significant other. Some learners might just like the language, while others think that it’s a useful language to learn. And it is! In fact, Spanish is one of the most useful languages to learn in the world. 

But is Spanish hard to learn, as well? 

Well, it has the second-largest number of native speakers (after Mandarin Chinese) and it’s the fourth most-spoken language overall. Anyone who’s able to speak at least two of the most-spoken languages in the world already has a huge advantage compared to millions and millions of people. Have we convinced you yet?

Any reason you have for wanting to learn Spanish, or any other language you might be interested in, are valid. Once you start, we’re all in this together. But before you do, we’re sure you still want us to answer a few more questions about why Spanish is hard for some learners (and what things about it aren’t so bad). 

Here we go!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Learning Spanish Table of Contents
  1. So, is it Hard to Learn Spanish?
  2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Spanish?
  3. I Want to Learn Spanish. Where Should I Start?
  4. What Advice Would You Give to a New Spanish Learner?
  5. Why is SpanishPod101.com Great for Learning Spanish?

1. So, is it Hard to Learn Spanish?

This is a question you’ve probably asked before while deciding whether to start learning Spanish. Maybe you’ve asked someone you know who’s learned the language, or a native Spanish-speaker, or even the Internet. In fact, that’s probably how you got to this article! It’s not an easy question to answer, because there are some factors you need to consider here. Let’s take a look at the main factor.

If you already speak another Romance language, such as French or Italian, you’ll already be familiar with the structures of the language and a lot of the vocabulary, which will make things much easier for you. This doesn’t mean that someone whose native language is Portuguese, for instance, will be able to learn Spanish immediately. But it will definitely be easier than it would be for someone who has never been around languages that are so close to Spanish.

For example, the word casa (“house”) in Spanish is also casa in both Portuguese and Italian. This is a phenomenon you’ll find going on with many other words, too! However, even though French is also a Romance language, it actually uses a very different word (maison) for “house.” Other words, nevertheless, will be the same or very similar. So there’s a bit of everything, really! 

But if your native language isn’t a Romance language, there’s no need to worry, because Spanish is still not counted among the most difficult languages. Just take a quick look at this article titled “The 20 Most Difficult Languages in the World to Learn.” You’ll notice that Spanish is not on it. That’s good news, isn’t it?

In conclusion, to answer the question we originally asked: No, it’s not hard to learn Spanish. Just like everything else in life, it will have some difficulties. But overall, it’s not that hard and anyone can learn it, no matter their native language, age, or any other factor that you’ve been told might affect your ability to learn a second language. Yay!

Happy Girl Surrounded by Money

2. What are the Hardest and Easiest Parts of Learning Spanish?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask and what your mother tongue is, but we’re pretty sure we can give you the type of answer you’re looking for. Here, we’ll cover what makes Spanish hard to learn as well as things that aren’t so bad for most students! 

A- Verbs

Every language, like it or not, has some hard parts. In this case, we believe that the hardest part of learning Spanish is the verbs, unless your native tongue is another Romance language with a similar number of conjugations. Spanish verbs are more complicated than verbs in English, because English doesn’t have as many conjugations.

The topic of ser and estar, two of the main Spanish verbs, is a particularly tough one. But lucky for you, we have the perfect article for that, as well as articles for many other difficult topics! This isn’t something you’ll have to worry about at the beginning of your Spanish learning, but it’s good to keep in mind for future reference.

Kid Struggling with Homework

B- Pronunciation

There are many easy aspects of learning Spanish, we think. For example, pronunciation, though it might seem tricky at first, is easy once you understand all the sounds. If you follow the rules, you know there aren’t going to be any surprises. We pronounce everything the way it’s spelled, with a couple of rare exceptions, such as not pronouncing the letter u in the combinations que, qui, gue, and gui (like in the English word “guitar”).

Spanish has a total of five vowel sounds, which is heavenly compared to the ridiculous number of vowel sounds in English. In this sense, Spanish likes to keep it simple. 

C- Vocabulary

Even though English isn’t a Romance language, there are thousands of words that sound very similar and that you’ll be able to identify immediately. Here are some examples:

  • Example: elefante
  • Translation: “elephant”
  • Example: invitación
  • Translation: “invitation”
  • Example: memoria 
  • Translation: “memory”

As you can see, despite the slight differences in spelling, you can immediately understand the meaning of these words in Spanish. There are also words that are spelled identically in both languages (idea, hotel, festival…). In most cases, the pronunciation won’t be exactly the same, but it sure does make the learning process a little smoother! 

D- False Friends

Be careful about false friends, though! False friends are words that also sound very similar, but have different meanings. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • Example: constipado
  • Translation: “to have a cold”

But you might have thought of a different word:

  • Example: estreñido
  • Translation: “constipated”

And now let’s look at a different pair from the opposite perspective. You might want to be careful whenever you say you’re embarrassed by something:

  • Example: embarazada
  • Translation: “pregnant”

The word you actually want to use is: 

  • Example: avergonzado/a
  • Translation: “embarrassed”

Keep in mind that most false friends won’t be as surprising as these! We selected the most shocking ones, but they’re exceptions. 

3. I Want to Learn Spanish. Where Should I Start?

We know that the first stages of learning a language can be overwhelming. There are many different ways to go about starting your language-learning journey, and it’s important to find the best one for you. We recommend starting with the basics. Before trying to learn too much at once, learn how to say “hello” and a few more basic words and phrases.

Beginning of a Race

Usually, one of the first lessons when you learn a new language is how to introduce yourself and how to ask another person to introduce themselves. You normally don’t start learning complicated grammar rules straight away. Instead, the idea is to build your skills up slowly.

4. What Advice Would You Give to a New Spanish Learner?

If you’ve just decided to start learning Spanish, welcome! You’re in for a treat. 

It won’t always be an easy ride, and some days you might find yourself getting stuck in a particular aspect of the language, but don’t give up! If there’s something you’re struggling with, ask us questions, do more research, or maybe move on to a different aspect for a while. Sometimes, a break is all you need to see things more clearly.

And remember: You won’t get anywhere without practicing! We’re sorry, we also wish we could learn it just like that, but any language requires practice to become fluent! There are many ways you can practice Spanish online, but if you can, we would recommend that you visit Spain and make some local friends.

Group of People Talking

5. Why is SpanishPod101.com Great for Learning Spanish?

At SpanishPod101.com, you’ll find everything you need to learn Spanish, from beginner lessons to more advanced ones. We have tons of free content for you to use, and we have so much more to offer if you upgrade your account to one of our Premium plans

If you upgrade your plan, you’ll have access to hundreds of useful lessons, videos, quizzes, and all of the vocabulary and grammar tools you need to become fluent in Spanish. In our most complete plan, Premium PLUS, you’ll even have access to a teacher who will be there just for you, so your program will be completely personalized. This means that if you ever have doubts or questions, you’ll be able to get help whenever you need it. 

Speaking of questions, feel free to drop us a comment with any questions or concerns you have about learning Spanish. We’ll be glad to help you out!

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The 9 Most Common Mistakes in Spanish for Learners

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We know that learning Spanish can be a bit frustrating, especially for native English-speakers. Trying to understand the language’s structure is intimidating to many—but calm down! No matter how many mistakes in Spanish you make along the way, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and learn step-by-step.

Knowing what to look out for will help you improve your Spanish language skills a lot more quickly. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the nine most common mistakes when learning Spanish. We’ll review a list of common mistakes of English speakers in Spanish, from pronunciation and vocabulary, to gender agreement and false friends. At the end, we’ll also cover some funny errors in Spanish that you should avoid at all costs! This guide will help you recognize many of the most common Spanish mistakes, and give you a better idea of how to correct them. 

In addition to this guide, we have a number of activities on SpanishPod101.com that you can use to practice everything you learn in this lesson.

Let’s get started!

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Spanish Table of Contents
  1. Pronunciation Mistakes
  2. False Friends and Similar-Sounding Words
  3. Gender and Number
  4. Using Unnecessary Pronouns: You & I
  5. Prepositions
  6. Grammatical Mistakes
  7. Word Order Mistakes
  8. Politeness Level
  9. The Most Common Embarrassing Mistakes
  10. To Sum Up…

Man Studying

1. Pronunciation Mistakes

Spanish pronunciation mistakes are some of the most common errors plaguing foreign learners. There are words and letters that require more forceful vocalization than English speakers are used to, and other words that contain silent letters that Spanish-learners don’t know what to do with.

In this section, we’ll show you some typical Spanish pronunciation mistakes and how to avoid them! 

    → We recommend that you review the Spanish alphabet before jumping into this section.

1 – Use of R, Ñ, J, and H

In Spanish, the sounds for letters like R, Ñ, J, and H have very special characteristics.

For example, a big mistake that many Spanish students make is to not trill the R. When native speakers hear this incorrect pronunciation, it may confuse them. 

Note that we trill the R at the beginning of a word, or the RR when it’s between two vowels. Otherwise, the sound needs to be weak.

Examples:

RROne R at the beginning of a word(Strong sound)One R(Weak sound)
Carro (“Trolley”)Río (“River”)Barato (“Cheap”)
Borrar (“Delete”)Rodilla (“Knee”)Parada (“Stop”)
Perro (“Dog”)Roca (“Rock”)Pera (“Pear”)
Tierra (“Earth”)Remo (“Rowing”)Caricia (“Caress”)

And now a quick note on the other letters:

  • H

    The H in Spanish is usually silent. We’ll talk more about this soon!
  • Ñ

    This letter has a very particular sound that many English-speakers struggle with. It sounds similar to the underlined sound in the words “canyon” and “onion.”
  • J

    The sound of the J is the same as that of the letter G, when the latter is followed by the letters e or i. In Latin American countries, the sound is the same and is very similar to the sound of H in English. But in countries like Spain, there’s a marked difference; for them, the sound of the G tends to occur in the back of the throat.

Teacher Pronunciation

Words with similar sounds:

Words with GWords with J
Geografía (“Geography”)Cerrajería (“Locksmith”)
Religión (“Religion”)Jarra (“Jug”)
Origen (“Origin”)Jirafa (“Giraffe”)
Genio (“Genius”)Caja (“Box”)

2 – How to Pronounce H

You should know that the H in Spanish never makes the English H sound. Here are the basics: 

  • If you see an H accompanied by a C (CH), it will have a sound similar to the CH in “church,” “chocolate,” or “change.”
  • If you see an H without a C, then it’s silent. 

Examples:      

CHH
Cuchillo (“Knife”)Helado (“Ice cream”)
Chino (“Chinese”)Hamburguesa (“Burger”)
Coche (“Car”)Hielo (“Ice”)
Mucho (“A lot”)Cohete (“Rocket”)
Chocolate (“Chocolate”)Cacahuete (“Peanut”)

3 – Pronouncing S and Z in Spain vs. Latin America

The S, C, and  Z

In Spanish from Spain, the C and Z sometimes have the same sound. The rule is simple: when C is accompanied by the letters e or i, and Z with a, o, or u, the pronunciation is done with the tongue in front of the teeth. That is, it emits a slightly more marked sound than that of the S.

Let’s see some examples:

  • Cena (“Dinner”)
  • Zorro (“Fox”)
  • Cielo (“Sky”)

On the other hand, in Latin American Spanish, S, C, and Z have identical pronunciations.

The best way to prevent making a mistake in Spanish here is to familiarize yourself with words that are spelled similarly but have different meanings. In addition, we recommend that you listen to the pronunciation of Spanish from Spain, so that you’ll avoid falling into translation and context errors. 

Similar wordsEnglish translation
Casa / Caza“House” /  “Hunting”
Basar / Bazar“Base on” / “Bazaar”
Abrasar / Abrazar“Burn” / “Hug”

2. False Friends and Similar-Sounding Words

Confused Woman

Several of the common mistakes Spanish-learners make have to do with writing, spelling, and pronunciation. False friends, intonation, and homonymous words frequently trip up new learners, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with these mistakes and their solutions! 

1 – False Friends

The word “Anglicism” may sound familiar to you. This basically refers to the influence that English has had on other languages, including Spanish.

Although this can be a great help to English-speakers, you must be careful! If not, you’ll fall into the trap of false friends.

These are words that look or sound similar to words in English, but have different meanings. Believe it or not, some of the most common mistakes in Spanish are the result of taking false friends at face value.

For example, did you know that the word recordar in Spanish means “remember,” not “record?” Here are some more false friends to look out for:

  • Enviar 
    • “Envy” X
    • “Send” O
  • Éxito 
    • “Exit” X
    • “Success” O 
  • Parada 
    • “Parade” X
    • “Bus stop” O
  • Vaso
    • “Vase” X
    • “Glass” O
  • Suceso 
    • “Success” X
    • “Event” O

2 – Accent and Tones

Accents in Spanish are graphic signs that are written over a letter to indicate the intensity with which that letter should be stressed. During your Spanish studies, you’ll find that several words—even if they’re spelled the same otherwise—take on different meanings depending on whether the accent mark is present or not. 

That said, it’s best to learn how to recognize them in order to avoid embarrassing situations like calling your father “potato” instead of “dad.”

Let’s look at some of the most common Spanish words, with accents and without, with their respective meanings:

SpanishEnglish
Él / El“He” / “The”
Papá / Papa“Father” / “Potato”
¿Por qué? / Porque“Why?” / “Because”
Práctico / Practico“Practical” / “I practice”
Bebé / Bebe“Baby” / “(S)he drinks”
De / Dé“Of” / “Give”
Sí / Si“Yes” / “If”
Esté / Este“Is” / “This”
Está / Esta“I am” (present subjunctive) / “This”
Bañó / Baño“(S)he bathed” / “Bathroom”

3 – Spanish Homonymous Words

More typical Spanish mistakes have to do with homonymous words. The name may sound very technical, but these are simply words that have identical or similar pronunciations, but different meanings. In this case, there are no accent marks to distinguish between them. 

In this category, there are homographs and homophones.

Example:

  • María buscó diferentes citas de autor para su tesis doctoral.
    “María looked for different authors’ quotes for her doctoral thesis.”
  • Tengo una cita romántica esta noche.
    “I have a romantic date tonight.”

Both Spanish sentences use the word cita, but the context is completely different. This can also happen with the following words:

  • Alce
    “Moose”
    OR
    Conjugation of the verb “to pick up”
  • Capital
    The capital of a city
    OR
    Money one has collected over the years

4 – Homophones 

These are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings. You can usually determine which spelling is appropriate based on the context. 

Examples:

  • asta (“stick”) vs. hasta (“still”)
  • grabe (“record”) vs. grave (“serious”)

As we explained previously, Latin Americans and some Spaniards pronounce the letters Z, C, and S exactly the same way. For this reason, the following words are also homophones in those particular regions. In standard Iberian Spanish, however, these words are not homophones.

  • abrasar (“burn”) vs. abrazar (“hug”)
  • Asia (“Asia”) vs. hacia (“towards”)

Question Mark

3. Gender and Number

Other typical Spanish language mistakes that foreign students make involve gender and number. In fact, native Spanish-speakers can easily identify non-native speakers, because these kinds of mistakes are very obvious and Spanish-learners make them all the time.

In Spanish, gender refers to whether a noun is masculine or feminine. For example, una mesa (“a table”) is feminine, while un vaso (“a glass”) is masculine.

Number refers to whether a noun is singular or plural; keep in mind that you must use the appropriate articles based on the number! For example, las mesas (“the tables”) is plural, while la mesa (“the table”) is singular.

How can you know what gender and number a noun is?

In terms of gender, feminine nouns generally end in -a or -e: puerta (“door”) / llave (“key”). On the other hand, masculine nouns generally end with -o: vaso (“glass”) / suelo (“floor”) / baño (“bathroom”). 

A noun’s article will give information on both its gender and number, in most cases. We’ll talk more about this in the following sections. 

1 – Plural vs. Singular (Is vs. Are)

Many students get confused about singular vs. plural nouns and their articles. In particular, the use of es and son (“is” and “are”) trips up new learners. 

To help you avoid Spanish mistakes like this, you should know the difference between a phrase in the plural and another in the singular. 

If a noun has an -S at the end and is also accompanied by son (“are”), it’s plural. On the other hand, if the noun does not carry an -S and is accompanied by es (“is”), it’s singular.

  • Las iglesias son grandes. (“The churches are big.”) O
    Las iglesias es grandes. (“The churches is big.”) X
  • Los edificios son altos. (“The buildings are tall.”) – Plural
  • El edificio es alto. (“The building is tall.”) – Singular

2 – Gender: Masculine vs. Feminine 

Remember: Nouns and their articles are always going to be masculine or feminine. Here’s a chart to help you differentiate between the articles and what they mean:

Singular M.Plural M.Singular F.Plural F.
El / “The”Los / “The”La / “The”Las / “The”
Un / “A”Unos / “Some”Una / “A”Unas / “Some”

Examples: 

  • La chica es muy inteligente. (“The girl is very intelligent.”) O
  • Una chica es muy inteligente. (“A girl is very intelligent.”) X
  •  Mi hermana compró un gran libro. (“My sister bought a great book.”) O
  • Mi hermana compró el gran libro. (“My sister bought the great book.”) X

Now let’s see the difference between singular masculine and feminine articles: 

  • El árbol está floreciendo. NOT La árbol está floreciendo.
    “The tree is flowered.”
  • La puerta está abierta. NOT El puerta está abierto.
    “The door is open.”

Word Exchange

4. Using Unnecessary Pronouns: You & I 

As a general rule, pronouns in English are indispensable. But this is not the case in Spanish. This is largely an advantage for foreign students, as it makes sentences much easier to write and speak.

For example:

  • (Tú) Comes mucho.
    “You eat a lot.”

However, many English-speakers, out of habit, construct their Spanish sentences using pronouns where they’re not needed. 

Of course, this mistake isn’t too serious. The worst that will happen is that native speakers may joke that you speak like a robot or, in more colloquial words, “speak as an Indian.”

Just try to remember that pronouns are generally irrelevant when speaking, since the verbs should already be conjugated to portray who you’re talking about.

  • Yo voy sacar el perro a pasear. (“I’m going to take the dog for a walk.”)
    = Voy a sacar el perro a pasear. (“[I’m] going to take the dog for a walk.”)
  • Tú necesitas descansar más. (“You need to rest more.”)
    = Necesitas descansar más. (“You need to rest more.”)

5. Prepositions 

“I go to your house by dinner with you.” 

Sounds weird, right? 

Maybe you’ve noticed similar mistakes when listening to native Spanish-speakers converse in English. But did you know that the reverse is also true? Many English-speakers use incorrect prepositions when speaking Spanish! 

In this section, we’ll pay special attention to two of the most commonly used prepositions in Spanish: por and para.

When to Use Them

Por is used to explain causation or motivation, while para is used to refer to the purpose of an action.

Many English-speakers struggle to differentiate between these two prepositions, and as a result, create very confusing sentences. 

For example, it’s not correct to say: Voy a tu casa por cenar contigo. Instead, you should say: Voy a tu casa para cenar contigo. (“I go to your house for dinner with you.”) In this case, you’re explaining that you’re going to the house for a specific reason, which is to have dinner.

Examples with por:

  • Vine a Madrid por mi trabajo.
    “I came to Madrid for my work.”
  • Voy de viaje por unos días.
    “I’m going on a trip for a few days.”

Examples with para:

  • Utilizo mi coche para ir a trabajar.
    “I use my car to go to work.”
  • Este regalo es para ti.
    “This gift is for you.”
  • El doctor recetó antibióticos para la infección.
    “The doctor prescribed antibiotics for the infection.”

6. Grammatical Mistakes

Many English-speakers struggle with Spanish grammar. 

To help you avoid making too many grammatical errors, we’re going to leave you some of the most common examples. By internalizing them, you’ll greatly boost your Spanish fluency!

Thinking Girl

Confusing Spanish Verbs: SER vs. ESTAR

If you’ve studied even a little Spanish, you probably know already that there are some aspects of Spanish grammar that are complicated for English-speakers because they don’t exist in English. 

One of them is the difference between ser and estar. In many cases, it can be easy to know which one to use. But there are certain situations where distinguishing between them is more difficult. 

With time and practice, you’ll see yourself making more and more progress, and better understanding these concepts.

Using ser:

Ser is used to describe permanent or long-lasting characteristics/states of being. 

For example:

  • El hombre es alto. (“The man is tall.”)

Using estar:

Estar is used to talk about location or temporary characteristics/states of being. 

For example:

  • Paris está en Francia. (“Paris is in France.”)

More examples:

Incorrect XCorrect OEnglish Sentence
Ella es dormida.                   Ella está dormida.“She is asleep.”        
Mi vecino está amable.  Mi vecino es amable.“My neighbor is kind.”     
La mujer está delgada.   La mujer es delgada. “The woman is thin.”        

“To like” vs. Gustar 

New learners often make mistakes in Spanish when using the verb gustar

Often, when translating the verb gustar into English, we give it the meaning “to like.” However, note that there are marked differences between the English “to like” and the Spanish gustar.

Take this sentence for example: 

  • Me gusta mucho la paella.
    “I like paella very much.”

Here, me gusta really means something along the lines of “it gives me pleasure.” In the example sentence, the paella gives the speaker pleasure, making the speaker the object of the sentence.

The mistake that some learners make is to use the Spanish pronoun yo (“I”) and treat themselves as the subject or doer. So they normally say:

Yo me gusto la paella mucho, which is incorrect. 

If you want to say that you like the paella, you have to omit the pronoun yo and only say: Me gusta la paella.

7. Word Order Mistakes 

English-speakers often make word order mistakes when learning Spanish. This usually happens for two reasons:

1) They directly translate English phrases into Spanish, word for word.

2) They believe that the first noun they hear is always the subject of the sentence.

Let’s see some examples.

  • Adjectives 

By now, you should know that in Spanish, the adjectives usually go after the subject: 

English Sentence       Incorrect Translation         Correct Translation
“That’s a red car.”Ese es un rojo coche.Ese es un coche rojo.
“The white door”La blanca puertaLa puerta blanca
“A large stadium”Un grande estadioUn estadio grande

  • The Effect of Word Order on the Sentence’s Meaning

In Spanish, the meaning of a sentence can be the same even if the word order is changed.

Example: 

  • Sarah le cantó una canción a Marco.
  • A  Marco le cantó una canción Sarah.  

In both sentences, Sarah sang the song. It doesn’t matter that Marco’s name came first in the second sentence.

8. Politeness Level

First things first, let’s talk about what this means in Spain vs. Latin America: In Spain, courtesy is less common than in Latin American countries.

Here’s an example of things you would hear in Spain:

  • ¿Me pone una caña, cuando pueda? (“Can I have a beer when you can?”)
  • ¿Tiene usted la hora? (“Do you have the time?”)

In Latin America, they use more formalities when speaking:

  • Hola, ¿me das una cerveza, por favor? (“Hello, can you give me a beer, please?”)
  • ¿Buenas tardes, me podría indicar esta dirección? (“Good afternoon, could you give me this address?”)

Tú vs. Usted

is used more with family and friends, while usted is used with people who are older than you and strangers. 

  • Speaking to Strangers / Older People

¿Me podría ayudar con esta dirección, please? (“Could you help me with this address, please?”)

  • Speaking to Family / Friends

¿Me dices la dirección? / ¿Dime la dirección? (“Can you tell me this address, please?”)


People Talking

9. The Most Common Embarrassing Mistakes

To end on a lighter note, here are some mistakes often made by Spanish-learners when they mis-speak a phrase. Pay close attention to avoid the potential embarrassment yourself! 

What you think you’re saying:What you’re saying in Spanish (Incorrect form)What you’re really saying:What you should say(Correct form)
“I’m hot.”Estoy caliente.“I have heat.”Tengo calor.
“I’m embarrassed.”Estoy embarazado (a).“I’m pregnant.”Tengo vergüenza.
“I’m excited.”Estoy excitado.“I’m horny.”Estoy emocionado (a).
“I’m 25 years old.”Tengo 25 anos.“I have 25 anuses.”Tengo 25 años.

10. To Sum Up…

In this article, you learned the nine most common Spanish mistakes. There are many others, but this list is a good place to start; by avoiding these issues, you’ll soon be able to speak with confidence. Believe me, you’ll feel great!

On SpanishPod101.com, you can also find lots of video and audio lessons related to this topic. We have everything you need to further your studies and to keep learning Spanish in a fresh and clear manner.

Before you go, let us know in the comments which common Spanish mistakes you’ve made before. Has our article helped clear up any confusion? We look forward to hearing from you!

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Spanish Keyboard: How to Install and Type in Spanish

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You asked, so we provided—easy-to-follow instructions on how to set up your electronic devices to write in Spanish! We’ll also give you a few excellent tips on how to use this keyboard, as well as some online and app alternatives if you prefer not to set up a Spanish keyboard.

Log in to Download Your Free Spanish Alphabet Worksheet Table of Contents
  1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Spanish
  2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Spanish
  3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer
  4. How to Change the Language Settings to Spanish on Your Computer
  5. Activating the Spanish Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet
  6. Spanish Keyboard Typing Tips
  7. How to Practice Typing Spanish

1. Why it’s Important to Learn to Type in Spanish

A keyboard

Learning a new language is made so much easier when you’re able to read and write/type it. This way, you will:

  • Get the most out of any dictionary and Spanish language apps on your devices
  • Expand your ability to find Spanish websites and use the various search engines
  • Be able to communicate much better online with your Spanish teachers and friends, and look super cool in the process! 

2. Setting up Your Computer and Mobile Devices for Spanish

A phone charging on a dock

It takes only a few steps to set up any of your devices to read and type in Spanish. It’s super-easy on your mobile phone and tablet, and a simple process on your computer.

On your computer, you’ll first activate the onscreen keyboard to work with. You’ll only be using your mouse or touchpad/pointer for this keyboard. Then, you’ll need to change the language setting to Spanish, so all text will appear in Spanish. You could also opt to use online keyboards instead. Read on for the links!

On your mobile devices, it’s even easier—you only have to change the keyboard. We also provide a few alternatives in the form of online keyboards and downloadable apps.

3. How to Activate an Onscreen Keyboard on Your Computer

1- Mac

1. Go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Check the option “Show Keyboard & Character Viewers in Menu Bar.”

3. You’ll see a new icon on the right side of the main bar; click on it and select “Show Keyboard Viewer.”

A screenshot of the keyboard viewer screen

2- Windows

1. Go to Start > Settings > Easy Access > Keyboard.

2. Turn on the option for “Onscreen Keyboard.”

3- Online Keyboards

If you don’t want to activate your computer’s onscreen keyboard, you also have the option to use online keyboards. Here are some good options:

4- Add-ons of Extensions for Browsers

Instead of an online keyboard, you could also choose to download a Google extension to your browser for a language input tool. The Google Input Tools extension allows users to use input tools in Chrome web pages, for example.

4. How to Change the Language Settings to Spanish on Your Computer

Man looking at his computer

Now that you’re all set to work with an onscreen keyboard on your computer, it’s time to download the Spanish language pack for your operating system of choice:

  • Windows 8 (and higher)
  • Windows 7
  • Mac (OS X and higher)

1- Windows 8 (and higher)

1. Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Time & Language > Region & Language.

2. Click on “Add a Language” and select “Spanish.” This will add it to your list of languages. It will appear as Spanish with the note “language pack available.”

3. Click on “Spanish” > “Options” > “Download.” It’ll take a few minutes to download and install the language pack.

4. As a keyboard layout, you’ll only need the one marked as “Spanish.” 

2- Windows 7

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > Clock, Language, and Region.

2. On the “Region and Language” option, click on “Change Keyboards or Other Input Methods.”

3. On the “Keyboards and Languages” tab, click on “Change Keyboards” > “Add” > “Spanish.”

4. Expand the option of “Spanish” and then expand the option “Keyboard.” Select the keyboard layout marked as “Spanish.” You can ignore other keyboard layouts. Click “OK” and then “Apply.”

3- Mac (OS X and higher)

If you can’t see the language listed, please make sure to select the right option from System Preferences > Language and Region

1. From the Apple Menu (top left corner of the screen) go to System Preferences > Keyboard.

2. Click the Input Sources tab and a list of available keyboards and input methods will appear.

3. Click on the plus button, select “Spanish,” and add the “Spanish” keyboard.

Adding a system language

5. Activating the Spanish Keyboard on Your Mobile Phone and Tablet

Texting and searching in Spanish will greatly help you master the language! Adding a Spanish keyboard on your mobile phone and/or tablet is super-easy.

You could also opt to download an app instead of adding a keyboard. Read on for our suggestions.

Below are the instructions for both iOS and Android mobile phones and tablets.

1- iOS

1. Go to Settings > General > Keyboard.

2. Tap “Keyboards” and then “Add New Keyboard.”

3. Select “Spanish” from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by tapping and holding on the icon to reveal the keyboard language menu.

2- Android

1. Go to Settings > General Management > Language and Input > On-screen Keyboard (or “Virtual Keyboard” on some devices) > Samsung Keyboard.

2. Tap “Language and Types” or “ + Select Input Languages” depending on the device and then “MANAGE INPUT LANGUAGES” if available.

3. Select Spanish from the list.

4. When typing, you can switch between languages by swiping the space bar.

3- Applications for Mobile Phones

If you don’t want to add a keyboard on your mobile phone or tablet, these are a few good apps to consider:

6. Spanish Keyboard Typing Tips

Typing in Spanish can be very challenging at first! Therefore, we added here a few useful tips to make it easier to use your Spanish keyboard.

A man typing on a computer

1- Computer

  • To add the accent marks over a vowel (á,é,í,ó,ú), first type the accent then the letter. For example: ´+ a = á. You can find the accent mark by clicking the symbol “:”.
  • To add the mark ¨ over the u (ü), first click “Shift” then type the ¨ then the letter “u.” For example: Shift Key + ¨+ u = ü. You can find the mark ¨ by clicking “Shift” plus the symbol “:”.
  • The ñ is found between the “L” and “:.” You can type the ñ by clicking “;”.
  • 3. To add ¡ click on the symbol ^.
  • To add the ! click the Shift Key then “1” while keeping the Shift Key held down. For example: Shift Key + 1 = !
  • To add ¿ first click the Shift Key then the ^, while keeping the Shift Key held down. For example: Shift Key + ^ = ¿
  • To add ? first click the Shift Key then the / Key while keeping the Shift Key held down. For example: Shift Key+ / Key = ?

2- Mobile Phones

  • With most mobiles, in order to gain access to accented letters, press the selected letter until accented options pop up (Examples: á, é, í, ü). Same goes for the ñ by clicking the letter n for more than one second. Further, you can click the ! key to obtain the option of ¡ and the ? key to obatin the option for ¿.

7. How to Practice Typing Spanish

As you probably know by now, learning Spanish is all about practice, practice, and more practice! Strengthen your Spanish typing skills by writing comments on any of our lesson pages, and our teacher will answer. If you’re a SpanishPod101 Premium PLUS member, you can directly text our teacher via the My Teacher app—use your Spanish keyboard to do this!

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The Best Guide to Naming Your Family in Spanish

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Do you know the top reasons for learning Spanish? In today’s world, you’re very likely to have a friend, family member, or a loved one who speaks Spanish. Learning to name the family members in Spanish is the best place to start when seeking to learn their language, because family in Spanish-speaking countries is a strong institution. That’s also why these cultures are so welcoming.

Learn the different ways to say “mother” in Spanish and “father” in Spanish. No matter the reasons you want to learn Spanish, practice how to say family member names in Spanish so next time you’re invited to spend your summer holiday with your lover’s family, you can impress them with your conversation comprehension.

So how do you talk about the family in Spanish? If you’ve ever visited Spain or stayed in Spain for a lengthy period of time, you’ve probably noticed the use of diminutives quite often: Tita, Abuelita, and even Andreita. This is one of the most common ways that family in Spanish cultures speaks to each other. It often means that you have a close relationship with your family members.

In Spain, it’s very common for the whole family to gather on Sundays to have lunch, and if you ever get invited to one, you’ll notice how they name family members in Spanish. You may feel confused as to why they use so many terms for “mother” in Spanish or “father” in Spanish, especially in terms of these diminutives. But don’t worry. If you’re called Pablito, that means they’re getting to know you better and they consider you part of the family as well.

In this article, you’ll learn how to talk about the Spanish family tree, go over some family in Spanish vocabulary, and read some Spanish sentences about family members to help you understand how it’s used! Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

  1. Gender and Family Members in Spanish
  2. Family Tree in Spanish
  3. Terms for Relatives
  4. Family Member Terms as a Married Person
  5. Endearment Terms to Name Family Members in Spanish
  6. Spanish Idioms about Family Members
  7. Fun Facts to Help You Learn Spanish
  8. Polysemy of Words in the Spanish Language
  9. Conclusion: Let SpanishPod101 Help You Master Spanish!

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1. Gender and Family Members in Spanish

Parents Phrases

When learning Spanish, it’s vital to know that Spanish is a phonetic language: every single letter is pronounced. Like English, Spanish may be considered an easy language to learn. As a beginner, you may be surprised to find that there are rarely any surprises in spelling or pronunciation. Spanish is also considered the second most spoken language in the world because it’s spoken in about twenty-one countries today; it has millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain.

So before we begin talking about things like how to describe family in Spanish, we’ll go over some basic rules you should know.

1- O and A

Knowing how to correctly name family members in Spanish begins with realizing that Spanish is grammatically gendered. Spanish nouns are classified as either masculine (often ending in –o) or feminine (often ending in –a).

One example of this difference between English and Spanish is when you use the masculine and the feminine primo and prima. In English, “cousin” is used for both male and female cousins, whereas in Spanish they differ by the ending vowel (-o or –a).

Example:

  • Primo = “Male cousin”
    • Yo tengo un primo que se llama Alejandro.
    • “I have a cousin named Alejandro.”
  • Prima = “Female cousin”
    • Mi prima se llama Andrea.
    • “I have a cousin named Andrea.”

An exception is:

  • Marido = “Husband”
  • Esposa = “Wife”

Note that its feminine form is not marida.

Another difference between English and Spanish is how you refer to both male and female siblings. The masculine-sounding Los hermanos in Spanish refers to both your brothers and sisters, whereas “siblings” is a gender-neutral word.

Example:
Yo tengo dos hermanos: José y Mónica.
“I have two siblings: José and Mónica.”

2- Masculine and Feminine Articles

The use of articles when you’re talking about a family member in Spanish also helps new learners understand gender use in Spanish.

Female articles: La, las, una, unas.
Male articles: El, los, un, unos.

Example:
La prima de Juan se llama Andrea.
“Juan’s cousin is Andrea.”

Example:
Juana es la nuera de mi madre.
“Juana is my mother’s daughter-in-law.”

2. Family Tree in Spanish

Family Words

If you’re a beginner in Spanish, one of the best ways to practice is by talking about your family (and extended family) in Spanish. Family reunions in Spain and Latin-America are a strong part of their culture, so if you’re ever invited to a family party, here are some questions you may ask when practicing your Spanish. But first, some must-know terms for family members in Spanish and other Spanish family vocabulary.

  • Mi familia = “My family”
  • Abuela = “Grandmother”
    • Example:
      ¿Cómo se llama tu abuela?
      “What is your grandmother’s name?”
  • Abuelo = “Grandfather”
    • Example:
      ¿En qué trabaja tu abuelo?
      “What does your grandfather do?”
  • Madre = “Mother”
    • Example:
      ¿Cuántos años tiene tu madre?
      “How old is your mother?”
  • Padre = “Father”
    • Example:
      ¿Dónde vive tu padre?
      “Where does your father live?”
  • Hermano = “Brother”
    • Example:
      ¿Tu hermano tiene hijos?
      “Does your brother have any children?”
  • Hermana = “Sister”
      Example:
      ¿A qué se dedica tu hermana?
      “What does your sister do for a living?”

3. Terms for Relatives

Once you’ve got the family tree in Spanish, including its vocabulary and Spanish use of gender, you can continue the conversation. Here are some questions your may be asked by “relatives” (parientes or familiares), and some more family vocabulary:

  • Tío = “Uncle”
    • Example:
      ¿Tu cuántos tíos tienes por parte de tu madre?
      “How many uncles do you have on your mother’s side?”
  • Tía = “Aunt”
    • Example:
      ¿Es Miryam la tía más joven que tiene Abigail?
      “Is Miryam the youngest aunt that Abigail has?”
  • Primo = “Male cousin”
    • Example:
      ¿Cuántos años tiene tu primo Alejandro?
      “How old is your cousin Alejandro?”
  • Prima = “Female cousin”
    • Example:
      Yo tengo una prima que se llama Andrea.
      “I have a cousin named Andrea.”
  • Sobrina = “Niece”
  • Sobrino = “Nephew”
    • Example:
      ¿Tú tienes sobrinos?
      “Do you have any nieces or nephews?”

4. Family Member Terms as a Married Person

Newlywed Couple

  • La familia política = “The in-laws.” It refers to the people that one is related to through marriage.
  • Cuñado = “Brother-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi cuñado me ha prestado su coche.
      “My brother-in-law lent me his car.”
  • Cuñada = “Sister-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi cuñada está muy enamorada de mi hermano.
      “My sister-in-law is very much in love with my brother.”
  • Yerno = “Son-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi yerno es abogado.
      “My son-in-law is a lawyer.”
  • Nuera = “Daughter-in-law”
    • Example:
      ¿Cómo se dice nuera en Español?
      “How do you say daughter-in-law in Spanish?”
  • Suegra = “Mother-in-law”
    • Example:
      Mi suegra cocina muy bien.
      “My mother-in-law is a great cook.”
  • Suegro = “Father-in-law”
    • Example:
      El suegro de mi hermana es muy amable.
      “My sister’s father-in-law is very kind.”

Unlike in English, in Spanish there are two terms to name the mother-/father-in-law of your son: consuegra or consuegro, respectively.

  • Consuegra = “Mother-in-law of your son”
    • Example:
      Mi consuegra cocina muy bien.
      “My son’s mother-in-law is a great cook.”
  • Consuegro = “Father-in-law of my son”
    • Example:
      Mi consuegro es un funcionario público.
      “My son’s father-in-law is a public officer.”

5. Endearment Terms to Name Family Members in Spanish

Family Quotes

Your Spanish family members vocabulary won’t be complete until you know some of the most common endearment terms for different family members.

In Spanish, we use diminutive terms to name our loved ones. When learning Spanish, it’s very interesting to know that the use of diminutive words may mean that the relationship is very close. You just need to add the suffix –ito to the end of the word.

Example:

  • Abuelito instead of abuelo (or “grandpa” in English)
  • Tita instead of tía (or “aunt” in English).

Some relatives can be named in two ways. For example, you can use padre/papá for “father” in Spanish and madre/mamá for “mother” in Spanish. Generally, kids name their mother mamá and their father papá. Mamá and papá should have an accent on the last vowel, otherwise they mean something different.

Ways to name your mother with affection:
Ma
Mamá
Amá

Ways to name your father with affection:
Pa
Papá
Apá

Ways to name your grandfather with affection:
Yayo
Abuelito
Abu

Ways to name your grandmother with affection:
Yaya
Nana
Abuelita
Abu

6. Spanish Idioms about Family Members

Family at the Mall

If you’ve been learning Spanish for some time now, and you would like to take your learning to the next level, we’ll present you with the most common Spanish idioms that involve family members.

If you take the English expression “like father, like son,” note that in Spanish, you can use the expression de tal palo tal astilla which means exactly the same thing. Expressions in the Spanish language are based on culture; they should never be translated literally, so be careful because they vary among all native Spanish speakers.

Idioms like the ones below always give a fresh and different touch to the conversation, and are a great sign that you’re ready for the next level of learning. Enjoy the ride!

1- Parece que no tienes abuela

Literal translation:
“It seems that you don’t have a grandmother.”

Meaning:
When someone has a high opinion of themselves, you can say: Parece que no tienes abuela. Why? Grandmothers normally praise their grandchildren, so this expression is used to say that someone doesn’t need a grandmother because they praise themselves instead.

Example:
A: La noche del viernes me corté el pelo de tal manera que todas las chicas a mi alrededor iban girándose por la calle y admirando mi melena.

B: Vaya Juan… ¡parece que no tienes abuela!

—–

A: “Friday night I got a haircut in such a way that all the girls around me were doing double takes on the street and admiring my beautiful hair.”

B: “Waoo Juan…it seems that you don’t need a grandmother!”

2- Salirse de madre

Literal translation:
“To get out of mother.”

Meaning:
This phrase is used when excess of something is involved. “Do you know when is enough?” could be a rough English equivalent. In fact, its origin goes back to when it rained so much that the rivers overflowed.

Example:
La fiesta en casa de Alberto empezó bien hasta que nos bebimos 3 copas y se salió de madre
“The party at Alberto’s house was fine till we had three drinks and it got out of mother.”

3- Ciento y la madre

Literal translation:
“A hundred and the mother.”

Meaning:
This expression is used when an area is very crowded, so you don’t know how many people there are.

Example:
Vinieron todos los amigos de Lorenzo y eran ciento y la madre.
“When all of Lorenzo’s friends came, they were a hundred and the mother.”

4- Cuando seas padre, comerás huevos

Literal translation:
“When you are a father you will eat eggs.”

Meaning:
In Spain, you can use this expression when someone doesn’t have enough experience in something; perhaps he/she is too young or just lacks knowledge. This expression relates to the past, when eggs were a very appreciated food. In fact, the father was the only one who was able to have eggs at all, so when his children asked for eggs, the mother used to say: “When you’re a father, you’ll eat eggs.”

Example:
A: Mami, mañana me gustaría volver a las tres de la mañana con el resto de mis amigos.
B: No hijo, a la una como siempre. Cuando seas padre comerás huevos.

A: “Mum, I would like to come back home tomorrow at three a.m. with the rest of my friends.”
B: “No dear, at one a.m. as always. When you are a father you will eat eggs.”

5- Éramos pocos y parió la abuela

Literal translation:
“We were few and the grandmother gave birth.”

Meaning:
This is the Spanish translation of Murphy’s Law. When everything is going wrong, and suddenly even more bad things happen, you can say: Éramos pocos y parió la abuela.

Example:
¡Éramos pocos y parió la abuela! No tuve suficiente con que se me rompiera el coche sino que además también tuve que cambiar la cerradura de casa porque me dejé las llaves dentro.

“We were few and the grandmother gave birth! It wasn’t enough when my car broke down, I also had to change my house’s lock because I left my keys inside.”

7. Fun Facts to Help You Learn Spanish

Father and Son

Terms like amigovio or follamigo are allowed by the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE). However, keep in mind that they’re used colloquially to refer to a person with whom one has a romantic or sexual relationship. It’s not formal. In English, this would be a “friend with benefits.” Amigovios is used more in Latin- American countries, and follamigo in Spain.

Amigo (friend) + Novio (boyfriend) = Amigovio
Follar (“f***) + Amigo (friend) = Follamigo

Example:
Somos amigovios.
“We are just friends with benefits.”

8. Polysemy of Words in the Spanish Language

When learning Spanish, polysemic words are a common problem for beginners who are discovering new vocabulary, because a word with several meanings is normally used for context-specific purposes. We have to admit that when learning a new language, it’s very funny when understanding that esposas means both “wives” and “handcuffs.”

  • Esposas = “Handcuffs”
    • Example:
      El policía tiene un par de esposas.
      “The police officer has a pair of handcuffs.”
  • Esposa = “Wife”
    • Example:
      Los cristianos no pueden tener muchas esposas.
      “Christians cannot have multiple wives.”
  • Gemelos = “Twin”
    • Example:
      Mi amigo Andrés tiene un gemelo.
      “My friend Andres has a twin.”
  • Gemelo = “Calf muscle”
    • Example:
      Me duelen los gemelos después de ir al gimnasio.
      “My calf muscles hurt after the gym.”
  • Gemelos = “Opera glasses”
    • Example:
      Para ir a ver ópera hay que llevar gemelos sino no podrás ver nada.
      “To go to the opera you must bring your binoculars, otherwise you will not see anything.”
  • Gemelos = “Cufflinks”
    • Example:
      Voy a comprarle a mi padre un par de gemelos para su cumpleaños.
      “I am going to buy my father a pair of cufflinks for his birthday.”

9. Conclusion: Let SpanishPod101 Help You Master Spanish!

So next time you’re at a party and encounter a Spanish speaker, you should ask about their family; there’s no better ice breaker, don’t you agree? They enjoy talking about their extended families. You can also download our Family and Relatives Cheat Sheet for free and have it on hand for any questions you may have!

SpanishPod101 has prepared a list of useful Spanish gender pronouns to help you establish a conversation about family members for your studies.

SpanishPod101 has many vocabulary lists available on our website for you to consult for free, and of course our Spanish Resource Corner for any other questions you may have. Why don’t you prepare a self-introduction, including your family members, in the comment section below?

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Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From SpanishPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at SpanishPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Spanish together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Spanish with SpanishPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the SpanishPod101.com Team!