Grammar Guide
Miscellaneous
Common Mistakes in Spanish

Common Mistakes in Spanish

Quick Answer

A few mistakes learners of Spanish often make are:

  • saying Soy bien. instead of Estoy bien. (I'm fine.)
  • saying Me gusto. instead of Me gusta. (I like it.)

Making mistakes while learning a language is nothing to be ashamed of! All speakers (even native speakers) make mistakes. With that in mind, let's take a look at a few mistakes learners of Spanish often make.

1. Soy Bien o Estoy Bien

Learners of Spanish will often make the mistake of using ser (to be) instead of estar (to be) when talking about how they are.

EnglishCorrect SpanishIncorrect Spanish
I'm fine.Estoy bien.Soy bien.

The key here is that ser is used for permanent traits, while estar is used for temporary ones. For example:

Soy alta y morena.
I'm tall and brunette.
Estoy enferma hoy.
I'm sick today.

Learn more about the differences between ser and estar in these articles:

2. Embarazada vs. Avergonzada

Embarazada (pregnant) is tantalizingly close to the English word embarrassed. ¡Ojo! (Careful!) This word has a very different meaning in Spanish than it does in English! If you say Estoy embarazada., you're saying I'm pregnant.

EnglishCorrect SpanishIncorrect Spanish
I'm embarrassed.Estoy avergonzada. (female speaker)Estoy embarazada. (female speaker)
I'm embarrassed.Estoy avergonzado. (male speaker)Estoy embarazado. male speaker)

Note that all the phrases above use estar, not ser. This is because both being avergonzado and being embarazado are temporary states, though pregnancy is a rather long temporary state!

3. Me Gusta vs. Me Gusto

If you want to say you like something, be careful not to say me gusto, which literally translates to I am pleasing to myself. Gustar is a tricky verb in Spanish and is also a very commonly-used one, so it's worth taking some time to get it right!

EnglishCorrect SpanishIncorrect Spanish
I like it.Me gusta.Me gusto.
I like them.Me gustan.Me gusto.

Keep it mind that if you want to say you liked something in the past tense, you use the phrase me gustó. Take a look at these examples showing gustar!

Me gusta la música.
I like music.
Me gustan estas canciones.
I like these songs.
Me gustó el concierto.
I liked the concert.

Learn more about gustar in this here!

4. La gente es or La gente son

Gente (people) is a singular noun in Spanish, so it should always be used with a singular verb.

EnglishCorrect SpanishIncorrect Spanish
People are...+ permanent traitLa gente es...La gente son...
People are...+ temporary traitLa gente está...La gente están...

Check out these examples!

La gente es muy amable en Costa Rica.
People are very friendly in Costa Rica.
La gente está enojada porque el gobierno no la escucha.
People are angry because the government doesn't listen to them.

5. No problemo

This is an easy one - problemo is not a word in Spanish! The word for problem is problema.

EnglishCorrect SpanishIncorrect Spanish
No problem.No hay problema.No problemo.
Voy a llegar unos minutos tarde. - No hay problema. Te esperamos.
I'm going to be a few minutes late. - No problem. We'll wait for you.

Although it ends in -a, problema is a masculine noun. Learn more about Spanish nouns and gender here!

6. Soy + Age

In Spanish, you don't say you are a certain age, you say you have a certain age. This means that you use the word tener (to have) and not ser (to be) when saying how old someone is.

EnglishCorrect SpanishIncorrect Spanish
I'm sixteen years old.Tengo dieciséis años.Soy dieciséis años.
You're twenty years old.Tienes veinte años.Eres veinte años.
He/She is forty years old.Tiene cuarenta años.Es cuarenta años.

Review the conjugations for tener here!