Spanish Immersion Program

Common Spanish language mistakes even Spanish speakers make!


Spanish can be a tricky language. In fact, so tricky that even native Spanish speakers can be confused sometimes! These are a few Spanish mistakes that even Spaniards make, so relax if you still haven’t figured it all out. Here are a few common mistakes even Spanish speakers make sometimes:

Sólo vs. Solo

According to the RAE, solo is an adjective (e.g. café solo, vive solo) and an adverb at the same time (e.g. solo [solamente] llovieron dos días). Also, because the word ends with a vowel and the stress is on the last to second syllable, it should not have an accent mark. However, when it is used as an adverb (= solamente), it should have an accent mark to avoid ambiguity. “Estuve sólo dos días en Madrid” means that ‘I was in Madrid for only two days’, whilst “estuve solo dos días en Madrid” means that ‘I was alone in Madrid for two days’. See the difference?

Andé vs. Anduvo

We won’t lie to you. Spanish verbs can be tricky because there are a lot of exceptions to the rules. So sometimes even native speakers can make mistakes, which happens a lot with the verb ‘andar’ (to walk). It’s not uncommon to hear people say things like ‘andé 12 km ayer’ (yesterday I walked 12 km), when the correct form is actually ‘anduvo’.

Freído vs. Frito

Another common confusion between native Spanish speakers is freído vs. frito (fried). Both words exist, but one is a verb (freído) and the other is an adjective (frito) or a verb. For example, saying “he freído un huevo” or “nunca he frito un huevo” are both correct. But if you’ve made a fried egg, remember to use only the adjective - huevo frito, patatas fritas. Huevo freído is the wrong way to say it!

Entrar para dentro, subir para arriba, descer para bajo and so on

Literally - entering inside, going up up, going down down. These are much more common that you’d expect and everybody has said something of that sort at least once. But these expressions are incorrect because they are redundant, as you might understand by their English translation. So here’s an instance where not being a native can be an advantage for you!

Adding an ‘s’ at the end of the second person in the simple past

If you’re in the South of Spain or in the Caribbean, an extra s is definitely something that you won’t hear. But elsewhere, adding an ‘s’ at the end of the second person in the simple past happens quite often. Saying ‘fuistes’, ‘hicistes’ or ‘llamastes’ is incorrect - the correct forms are ‘fuiste’, ‘hiciste’ and ‘llamaste’, respectively.

Deber vs. Deber de

Deber and deber de are often used interchangeably by native speakers. The tricky part is that both exist and both are correct - but they imply slightly different things. Deber expresses an obligation (“debes estudiar”, “debes acercarte al puesto de información”). On the other hand, deber de is only a possibility (“debe de mantenerlo en secreto”).