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Talk Like a Native: 5 Mistakes Made When Learning Spanish, Part 2

by Cynthia Lopez

Posted on April 21, 2014 at 12:00 AM.

In today's segment of "Talk Like a Native" we have part 2 of "5 Mistakes Made When Learning Spanish." Learn which mistakes to avoid!

As promised here's the second part of "Talk Like a Native: 5 Mistakes Made When Learning Spanish." In this blog post I'll give you tips on what tricky words or rules you should look out for, so that you don't make mistakes that so many others have made when they've taken on learning Spanish. Enjoy!

Using the proper conjugation for you
It’s very easy to only use one form of conjugating verbs for the pronoun you. For those of you who are new to learning Spanish let’s review the Spanish you’s. First there’s , is used in informal situations. It can be used when talking to someone who is around your age. If you are talking to someone significantly older, teachers, or someone in a higher-ranking position like your boss or the president, then you should use usted. Usted means you just like tú; it's used in formal situations. Using the wrong you can lead to situations where you are being too informal to your elders or teachers, and that may lead people to think you’re being rude.

Forgetting those accent marks
Forgetting to use accent marks on some words can cause confusion. It’s common to forget accent marks when writing in Spanish and if you forget an accent mark you can end up expressing something different from what you originally intended. Words like and tu look pretty similar, but they actually have different meanings. means you, and tu means your. Another example is using the words está and esta. Está is the conjugation of the verb estar and it means is. Está is used for the pronouns he, she, it and the formal you, usted. Esta just means this.

Forgetting that some masculine words end with an a
The general rule is that masculine nouns end with an o, and if a noun ends in an a that means it's feminine. And for the most part this rule holds true; however, there are a few Spanish nouns that don’t follow this rule. So knowing exactly which nouns are an exception to the rule can come in handy. One example is the word problema. Problema is a cognate, so you can probably guess the definition, it means problem. The word problema looks feminine, but it’s actually masculine, so the definite article that we use for this word is el, el problema. There are also words in Spanish that end with an o and are actually feminine. Two examples are la radio, which means the radio, and la mano, which means the hand.

Pronouncing Words Incorrectly
In Spanish, the h sound is never pronounced in words. Words like, hombre, which means man are pronounced without the sound. So hombre is pronounced om-bre. Another letter that can be confusing is the Spanish j, which is pronounced like the English h. The name Juan is pronounced Huan. But the Spanish g is the trickest one because sometimes it sounds like an English h. For example, the word colegio is pronounced co-le-hio. But other times it sounds more like the English g (like when you're pronouncing the word gate). So the word gallo, which means rooster, is pronounced ga-yo. Oh yes, and the double l is another tricky one, the double l is pronounced like the English y, so pollo, which means chicken, is actually pronounced po-yo.

Forgetting that the adjectives must agree with the subject it's modifying
In Spanish, the subject of the sentence and it’s adjective must have the same gender. For example if you want to say the black shirt in Spanish, then you’d probably try to piece these words together and come up with el negro camisa. Well, that’s incorrect. Camisa is feminine, so the definite article used for camisa is always la, and the color negro (or black), should be negra, since it's modifying camisa. The rule in Spanish is that if the subject is feminine then the definite or indefinite article and adjective should also be feminine. The same is true if the subject is masculine, the adjective must also be masculine. So the correct way to say the black shirt in Spanish, is la camisa negra. In Spanish the adjective comes after the subject.

Thank you for reading! Hope this blog post has helped you! Please feel free to leave comments or questions! Gracias y hasta luego!

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