Some Tips for Spanish Learners Ready to Take Risks
It’s a new year and the time when many of us set new goals. Perhaps your goal is to learn a new language or to take the language you’re learning to the next level. If that’s the case, I encourage you to take some risks, get out there and talk to people, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes! One of the best ways to learn is through trial and error. Plus, people really appreciate when you are trying to learn their language so most will be patient and helpful. Even if you’re not sure of the right words, try what you know and you’ll be surprised by how much you can communicate. That said, below are three common and particularly embarrassing mistakes you might want to avoid in Spanish:
Ano – año
“Happy New Year” in Spanish is “Feliz Año Nuevo”. That little squiggle on the ‘n’ is pronounced ‘ny’ like in the English word ‘onion’. So the word for ‘year’ in Spanish is pronounced ‘anyo’. Without the squiggle, ‘ano’ means ‘anus’ so it sounds pretty funny if you wish someone a Happy New Bum!
Embarazado/a – avergonzado/a
‘Embarazado/a’ is a false friend – it does not mean ’embarrassed’, it means ‘pregnant’! So if you’re feeling embarrassed (maybe because you just wished someone a Happy New Bum), avoid doubling your shame and say “estoy avergonzado/a” or “tengo vergüenza”, and not “estoy embarazado/a”.
Caliente – calor
There are many occasions where in English we say “I am” plus an adjective (eg. “I am hot”) but in Spanish we say “I have” plus a noun (eg. “tengo calor”, literally “I have heat”). This example is very important. When food or liquid is hot, it’s ‘caliente’ but if you want to say that you are hot (temperature-wise), you must say “tengo calor”. If you go with many English-speakers instincts and say “estoy caliente”, you mean you’ve got the hots for someone or that you are ‘turned on’…
These are some particularly embarrassing mistakes but now that you are well-aware of them, I hope you won’t be afraid to get out there and try out some Spanish! Even if you do make a mistake like these, it usually helps lighten the mood and always makes for funny memories!
Happy Risk Taking!