Recuerda que hice todo eso y que te amaba. Aunque olvides de mí todo lo demás, recuerda esto. Que bajé por esa calle y no volví la cabeza para mirarte y que te quiero. Te quiero. Te quiero tanto que te odiaré toda la vida por lo de hoy…
—  John Fowles
Ahora sé que tengo corazón, porque se me está partiendo en dos

L. Frank Baum (El mago de Oz)

***Cita tipo Virgo***

-Chica Virgo

22 Common Mistakes by Non-Native Speakers

I’ve compiled a short list of some very common and sometimes embarrassing mistakes made by non-native speakers of Spanish that are almost always a clue that the person doing this is not fluent or wholly proficient in Spanish.

This isn’t a complete list, it’s things that I’ve thought of as very common. So if I’ve missed any of your most embarrassing mistakes or you have some other examples, send them in!

1. Overusing a personal pronoun

In some cases, the use of a personal pronoun (yo, tú, nosotros) is not necessary. In Spanish, most verbs have a specific conjugation that applies to a certain subject that are unique… so there’s less of a reason to add a pronoun. When you do, you sound overly emphatic.

hablo = I speak

yo hablo = the one who is speaking is me

This can be a useful thing to know if you’re answering questions like “Who did ___?” but in everyday speech if you go through a routine like: yo hago la cama, yo me ducho, yo como el desayuno and so on sounds incredibly tiresome to a native speaker because you’re putting unneeded emphasis on it.

Where emphasis is better served is when the subject is doubtful - 3rd person singular and plural.

Because if “he” is conjugated like “she”, and “they” could be anyone, it’s sometimes useful to write the pronoun él or ella or name them to avoid confusion.

This is especially useful in the subjunctive where 3rd person singular looks like yo.

2. Capitalizing nationalities

In English, we write English. We write American as American, and Chinese as Chinese.

In Spanish, it’s not like that. 

inglés / inglesa = English

español / española = Spanish

francés / francesa = French

griego/a = Greek

ruso/a = Russian

italiano/a = Italian

japonés / japonesa = Japanese

chino/a = Chinese

The only reason you would capitalize someone’s nationality or ethnicity would be if it were a tribe like los Iroquois or if it was their nickname/title like la Chinita [a historical woman]

3. Ser and Estar

Always a problem.

Ser is used with description, qualities, telling time, passive voice, what something is made of, what something is used for, set personality traits, and a few others.

Estar is used for location, temporary conditions (sick, tired, cloudy etc.), a person’s mood and NOT their personality, the progressive, and a few others.

The difference is best learned by practice and repeated example.

4. Ser and Haber

While ser is used for “to be”, one of the main functions of haber is “to be present/existing” which is typically hay but may be hubo/había/habrá etc. depending on the tense.

Son sillas = They are chairs

Hay sillas = There are chairs

When it’s a question of, “What is it?” you use ser.

When it’s a question of, “Does it exist?” use haber.

5. Addressing all letters with Querido/a for “dear”

In English, we just have “dear”. In Spanish there are two ways to say it.

Querido/a comes from querer which means “to love”. So querido/a means “dear” as in “person I care about” or sometimes “beloved”.

Generally, estimado/a is what you want to use when it’s someone above your station like a boss or a teacher, because “esteemed” is giving them respect and is more formal.

The real difference is if you’re on a first name basis, querido/a is fine.

If you’re not, or if you’re being formal, or it’s a stranger, estimado/a is what you want to use.

If you’re comfortable enough to begin a letter with, “Hey!” or “Yo!” then you can use querido/a but it can be seen as disrespectful or extremely buddy-buddy friendly to use querido/a instead of estimado/a in some contexts.

6. The use of americano/a

While americano/a is very commonly used for “American”, there are places where it’s frowned upon when you mean “from the United States”.

Because, while americano/a means “American” it refers to North AND/OR South America. Canada is “American”, Brazil is “American”, Haiti is “American”, Argentina is “American”.

So you might see: España tuvo colonias americanas / “Spain had American colonies”.

When you mean “from/pertaining to the U.S.”, it’s better to use estadounidense which means “from Los Estados Unidos” just to avoid accidentally being ethnocentric.

7. “I’m hot” =/= estoy caliente & “I’m cold” =/= estoy frío/a

Tengo calor. = I am hot. 

Estoy caliente. = I am aroused.

Tengo frío. = I am cold.

Estoy frío/a. = I am distant, not friendly, frigid, or a cold fish.

[Note: estoy frío/a can also be used in the sense of “my body is colder than average”; generally the estar kind of implies “a body” and not a person… so you could say el muerto está frío which would mean “the dead man is cold” which is “to the touch”. Worse than this would be soy frío/a which is more obviously “I am frigid and dislike people”.]

8. Por and Para

The Differences between por and para

9. Preterite vs. Imperfect

Should I use Preterite or Imperfect?

10. Position and Directionality - debajo vs. abajoatrás vs. detrásante vs. antes etc.

Generally, de- implies that something is in a particular position. And generally, a- implies that there is motion.

The trick to these words is if you are describing something’s static position, versus a state of movement.

debajo = underneath

abajo = downward

detrás = behind

atrás = moving behind [<<¡Atrás!>> as an interjection is, “Stand back!”]

tras = after / pursuing / chasing / following

ante = (to stand) before [e.g. ante la Corte "before the Court"; ante la Corona “before the Crown”]

antes = before (something happens) / just in front

11. Use of excitado/a

excitado/a = aroused sexually

emocionado/a = excited / filled with emotions of anticipation and maybe nervousness

12. Use of capable

capar = to neuter / to castrate

capable = able to be castrated

capaz = capable / having ability

13. Darse cuenta vs. Realizar

Both translate as “to realize” but in different senses.

Using darse cuenta is saying “to realize” as in “to have a revelation” or “to come to understand something” and is usually what you want.

Using realizar is saying “to make a reality” or “to finalize”. This is used primarily with projects or when making dreams a reality. It’s better translated as “to carry out” or “to finish”.

14. Preguntar vs. Pedir

Both mean “to ask” but not in the same way.

To ask a question is usually hacer una pregunta or preguntar. When you use preguntar you’re saying “to question (someone)” or “to ask about something of which you don’t know”. Hacer una pregunta is more often “to ask (someone) a question”.

Pedir on the other hand is “to ask for (something)”. It may be easier to think of it as “to request”. It’s most often associated with asking forgiveness [pedir disculpas], making demands, and especially in the sense of “ordering” at a restaurant.

15. Capitalizing everything in a sequence/title

Spanish typically capitalizes only the first letter of a sentence or sequence or title. English takes after German in the way of capitalizing every noun but not the prepositions or particle. Just be aware that this does not apply for proper names within the title.

So for instance…

Cien años de soledad = One Hundred Years of Solitude

Alicia en el país de las maravillas = Alice in Wonderland

Lo que el viento se llevó = Gone with the Wind

La vuelta al mundo en ochenta días = Around the World in 80 Days

El mago de Oz = The Wizard of Oz

16. Overuse of para with various verbs

Most commonly, this mistake happens with esperar "to wait for" and buscar “to look for”. 

People commonly write buscar para or esperar para, but because the “for” is already implied, there’s no need to add para.

Busco mi libro. = I’m looking for my book.

Busco novio. = I’m looking for a boyfriend.

Busco a ella. - I’m looking for her.

Estoy esperando el autobús. = I’m waiting for the bus.

Estoy esperando a ella. - I’m waiting for her.

17. Moverse vs. Mudarse

moverse = to move physically

mudarse = to move places of residence

*Note: mudar by itself means “to mutate” or “to molt” which is different from both of these meanings

18. Older/Younger vs. Elder/Younger

This is a problem that exists because English, but in Spanish there’s a clear distinction between both sets of words.

viejo/a / joven = old / young as in age

mayor / menor = elder / younger as in sequence of age

Mi hermana es mucho más mayor que yo. - My sister is much older than me. [“My sister is my senior in age because she was born first”]

Mi hermana es mucho más vieja que yo. - My sister is more of an old woman than me. [“My sister is a senior citizen”]

*Note: There’s a bit more leeway with joven and menor… the general distinction is that joven implies “youth”, but menor means “younger than” which implies a sequence.

19. Using en with days of the week / months of the year

Generally, with days of the week or months of the year, people are more likely to say: “On Tuesday” and write en martes

In Spanish, that’s not how it’s done. It’s more common to use el to imply a due date or when something occurs.

La tarea es para el lunes. - The homework is due Monday.

Hagan la tarea para el viernes. - Do the homework by Friday


Mi cumpleaños es en febrero. = My birthday is in February.

Mi cumpleaños es el diez de febrero. = My birthday is February 10th.

20. Historia vs. Cuento

la historia = a long story / history (the subject)

el cuento = a short story [related to contar “to tell”]

21. Words that end in -a that are masculine, words that end in -o that are feminine

This is mastered by repetition. Sometimes it’s because they’re loanwords (especially from Greek)

  • el día [Indo-European and not Greek] = day
  • el poema [Greek] = poem
  • el clima [Greek] = climate
  • el aroma [Greek] = smell / aroma
  • el programa [Greek] = program

Other times they’re abbreviations

  • la radio(grafía) = radio / radiography
  • la moto(cicleta) = motorcycle
  • la bici(cleta) = bicycle
  • la tele(visión) = television

You just have to do your best to learn them as you go.


la radio = radio [the machine or a radio program]

el radio = radius [geometry]

22. Reflexives with me, te and nos

When a reflexive is listed, it’s often in the “unconjugated” infinitive + reflexive se.

So for instance, irse “to leave” is listed as irse in the dictionary. When it’s conjugated however, the reflexive must adhere to the subject.

So when it's yo it turns to me and so on:

Tengo que irme. = I have to leave.

Tienes que irte. = You need to leave.

Ella tiene que irse. = She needs to leave.

Ellos tienen que irse. = They need to leave.

Tenemos que irnos. = We need to leave.

*Note: This applies to all reflexives and in all tenses; me fui, te fuiste, se fueme ibate ibasse iba; me vaya, te vayas, se vaya and so on.

The se is only used for 3rd person, singular or plural.

I finally found all the words I was looking for. Here it is: a list of Harry Potter related words in Spanish! Inspired by this which was inspired by this. Enjoy your reading, muggles. Note: I’m not including words that are the same in Spanish as in English. Names are all the same, except for the ones I included at the end.

la magia - magic

la bruja / la hechicera - witch

el mago / el hechicero - wizard

la varita - wand

el hechizo - spell

el caldero - cauldron

la poción - potion

el castillo - castle

el calabozo - dungeon

el pasaje secreto - secret passageway

la torre - tower

el pasillo - hallway

la clase - classroom

la lección - lesson

el pergamino - parchment

la biblioteca - library

la sección prohibida - restricted section

la sala común - common room

la pluma - quill

el/la sangre pura - pureblood

el/la media sangre - halfblood

el/la nacido/a muggle - muggleborn

el/la sangre sucia - mudblood

Colegio Hogwarts de Magia y Hechicería - Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Las materias - the subjects

adivinación - divination

cuidado de criaturas mágicas - care for magical creatures 

transformaciones - transfiguration

pociones - potions

defensa contra las artes oscuras - defence against the dark arts

astronomía - astronomy

herbología - herbology

historia de la magia - history of magic

encantamientos - charms

estudio de runas antiguas - study of ancient runes

estudios muggle - muggle studies

aritmancia - arithmancy

los fantasmas - the ghosts

Nick Casi Decapitado - Nearly Headless Nick

La Dama Gris - The White Lady (Helena Ravenclaw)

El Barón Sanguinario - The Bloody Baron

El Fraile Gordo - The Fat Monk

Myrtle La Llorona - Moaning Myrtle

criaturas mágicas - magical creatures

el hipogrifo - hippogriff

el dragón - dragon

la sirena - mermaid

el calamar gigante - giant octopus

la acromántula - acromantula

el basilisco - basilisk

el centauro - centaur

el elfo doméstico - house elf

el duende - leprechaun

Cancerbero* (el perro de tres cabezas) - three-headed dog

el hada - fairy

el cangrejo de fuego - fire crab

el gusarajo - flobberworm

el fénix - phoenix

el unicornio - unicorn

el hombre lobo / la mujer lobo - werewolf

el enano - dwarf

el/la gigante - giant

el/la vampiro/a - vampire

la lechuza - owl

*Cancerbero is from the greek mythology (Cerberus) but it can reffer any three-headed dog.

objetos mágicos - magical objects

el mapa de los merodeadores - marauders map

la Barita de Saúco - Elder Wand

la Piedra de la Resurrección - Resurrection Stone

la Capa de Invisibilidad - Invisibility Cloak

la recordadora - Remembrall

el Desiluminador - Deluminator

la Piedra Filosofal - Philosopher’s Stone

Ajedrez Mágico - Wizard’s Chess

el Anillo de Sorvolo Gaunt -  Marvolo Gaunt’s Ring

el Diario de Tom Riddle - Tom Riddle’s Diary

la Copa de Helga Hufflepuff - Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup

la Diadema de Rowena Ravenclaw - Rowena Ravenclaw’s Diadem

la Espada de Godric Gryffindor - Godric Gryffindor’s Sword

el Guardapelo (Relicario) de Salazar Slytherin - Salazar Slytherin’s Locket

el Cáliz de Fuego - Goblet of Fire

el Sombrero Seleccionador - Sorting Hat

el Espejo de Oesed - Mirror of Erised

el Pensadero - Pensieve

la carta vociferadora - howler

el giratiempo - time turner

personajes * - characters

Lunático - Moony

Colagusano - Wormtail

Canuto - Padfoot

Cornamenta - Prongs

el Príncipe Mestizo - Half-Blood Prince

el Señor Tenebroso - The Dark Lord

Quien Tú Sabes - You Know Who

El Que No Debe Ser Nombrado - The One Who Must Not Be Named

*Hermione has the same pronunciation in the movies in Spanish as in English, but Spanish people pronounced it as it is written “ermion”. Though names are not translated at all in Spanish.

Mago de Oz

Astaroth - Mägo De Oz

De la noche de los tiempos
De tu oscuridad

He regresado a buscar
Un don para la humanidad

Y no pronuncias mi nombre
Aunque bien sabes quién soy
De tu soberbia y tu odio
El reflejo alimentado soy

Soy el eco de tu ira
El espejo en que
Tu avaricia se refleja
Y me da poder

Fluyo a través de las vidas
Que no consiguen saber
Dónde encontrar la salida
Que abre la puerta del mal y del bien

Ven hacia mí
Y déjame morar en ti

Soy el deseo
Lo oscuro que hay en ti

Compro tus sueños
Por tu alma, tu dios
¿cuánto da?
Soy el que soy
El portador de luz

Cubre tu manto
Mi luz y mi amor

Suave es el óbito
Y dulce este dolor

Tómame y el viento
Hará una canción

Como el fuego eterno
Que sellará nuestra unión

“Toma mi sangre
Mézclala, bébela

Quémala al ver la llama
Pues sólo así podrás adorarme
Haz lo que digo porque esta es la ley
No me creas, experimenta

Bebe, pues no hay
No hay otro medio”

Ven hacia mí
Y déjame morar en ti
Soy el deseo
Lo oscuro que hay en ti

Compro tus sueños
Por tu alma, tu dios
¿cuánto da?
Soy el que soy
El portador de luz

Ven hacia mí
Y déjame morar en ti
Soy el deseo
Lo oscuro que hay en ti

Compro tus sueños
Por tu alma, tu dios
¿cuánto da?
Soy el que soy
El portador de luz