Okay let’s get one thing straight: mistakes are okay. Mistakes are good. Love your mistakes.

There’s a saying that I like to remind myself of when I feel bad about making mistakes when I speak Spanish or French: “Show me someone who has never made a mistake and I’ll show you someone who has never tried something new.”

That’s deep.

Mistakes are how we grow and don’t be afraid to own your mistakes and laugh about them. I used to think it was perfectly acceptable to say “bastante mucho” in Spanish (eeeh it’s not) and once I said that I had “dos pollas enormes” instead of “dos AMpollas enormes” (for those non-Spanish speakers I accidentally said that I had two massive cocks instead of two massive blisters). Boy, did my husband and I laugh.

But I get it. We all want to improve and if we know for certain that something is said in a specific way then we feel more confident with our own language abilities.

These mistakes are very common among Spanish speaking students. Just a little interference from the old mother tongue. No big deal, but let’s have a look at them and see if we can resolve them.

1) I am agree

I can see you, nodding your head. I bet you’ve done this one once or twice. In English “agree” is not an adjective it’s a verb so we have to say “I agree”

2) Fun and Funny Confusion

This one I hear a lot. Many students mix these two very similar adjectives up. If something is funny it makes us laugh. Jokes are funny. Paquita Salas is a funny show.

If something (or someone) is fun they do exciting things that make us have a good time. For example, I love having water fights on hot summer days. Water fights are fun, not funny. Water fights don’t tell us a joke, water fights don’t have a personality so they can’t be funny. They can, however, be fun.

3) Close to & Near

Which one of these synonyms has a preposition? A lot of students will say something like “I live near to the gym.” However, near is not followed by a preposition so you can either say:

I live near the gym

or

I live close to the gym

4) “It’s not necessary”

This is isn’t technically incorrect grammatically, but in spoken informal English we would phrase this in another way. Here is another, more colloquial way to express that something isn’t necessary.

“You don’t have to” (even if we’re speaking in general, this is how we use the impersonal “you” in English). For example:

“To sign up for the class do you have to do it online?” “No, you don’t have to, you can also go to the administration building and do it.”

In both these sentences the speaker isn’t directly referring to the person listening, they just mean “you” in general. And this is much more natural than saying “Is it necessary to sign up online”

5) Hear & Listen

This is a mistake my husband makes and it can end up sounding pretty rude if you accidentally get it wrong! The other night for example, I was asking him something and he didn’t hear me, so he said;

“Sorry, what did you say? I wasn’t listening to you.”

How rude!

Remember that hear is passive and listen is active. If, like my very rude husband, you say you’re not listening to someone it means you were ignoring them and actively not paying attention to them. What he meant to say (I hope) was;

“Sorry what did you say? I didn’t hear you” (remember that hear is a stative verb so it can’t go in the present continuous the same goes for “see”).

And that’s it! Do you have any questions? Please write them in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you. Have you ever made any of these mistakes? Do you have any others you’d like to share? Please let me know and comment to help other learners. Sharing is caring.

Notes:

Get [something] straight: common expression which means to clarify something

Cock: penis (EXPLICIT: put the kids to bed before you say this one)

Blister: a swelling of liquid on the skin. You get blisters on your feet if you go running for example

I get it: I understand

No Big deal: not important

Mix up: confuse

Get back to someone: reply

Kerry

Download my free guide "Understand REAL Spoken English"

Five Actionable Tips to help you better understand REAL English

Awesome! Check your email (including your spam folder) to download the guide