The funniest mistakes Spanish learners make

Learning a language can be boring as hell, but it can also be simply hilarious.  The difference between one letter can lead to some fantastic sentences.  (Think “ship” vs. “shit” in English; the beautiful “shit” sailed across the sea).  But funny as it may be, if you genuinely manage to order deeply fried penis by accident, you’d be in trouble.  So if you’re learning Spanish, beware of the these classic mistakes:

1. Nombre does not mean number

Actually it means name.  This would explain why when a receptionist asked for my ‘nombre’, she was baffled when I replied that I didn’t know.  Needless to say, the receptionist didn’t wait for me to look up my name on mobile; she found an English speaker instead.

2. Pollo vs. Polla  

It’s a one letter difference but it’s also the difference between ordering chicken (pollo) with chips and penis (polla) with chips.  Best to get this one right!

3. Año vs. Ano  

A similarly anatomical mix up will happen if you forget that little squiggle above the o.  Unless you wish to deliver your oral exam about your last anus (ano), rather than your last year (año), learn this fast.

4. Embarazada does not mean embarrassed

Ironically, this mix-up could make you blush.  If you want to describe yourself as embarrassed, don’t guess that it is embarazada; describing yourself as pregnant in an already embarrassing moment is never helpful.  Instead, go for the word ‘avergonzada’.

5. Pescado vs. pecado

The difference between pescado (fish) and pecado (sin) can lead to some fantastic sentences. ‘For the main course, I’ll have sin’ – sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

6. Preservativos does not mean preservatives

You’ll get some even funnier looks from waiters, if you ask for a banana smoothie ‘sin preservativos’ (without condoms).

7. Soy caliente vs. Tengo calor

This is a very easy mix-up to make: trust me!  If you want to say ‘I’m hot’, don’t translate it literally.  As if you do, what you’ll actually inform the world is that ‘you’re gorgeous’ – which when you’re red and sweaty is not what you want to do.


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