Categories
Improving language

Common Mistakes by Beginners when Learning Spanish

What has brought you to this article? You may be an aspiring Spanish instructor or simply a smart person looking for typical blunders in learning Spanish before attempting to learn it, right?

I expect you to be the latter.

So, if you’re an English native speaker, Spanish is a very difficult language to learn and master, and it’s not unusual to make frequent grammar errors in Spanish.

Why?

English and Spanish are read and spoken in quite distinct styles and manners. That alone may influence how you read and pronounce the language.

So, without any further ado, let’s get this party started.

Pronunciation

Pronunciation is the most critical component of learning a language, whether it’s Spanish or learning to talk like a Native American. Because many languages are derived from Latin, most words are the same or nearly so.

But that doesn’t imply they’re pronounced the same way.

The Spanish letter “R” and the English letter “R”

One of the most frequent errors in learning Spanish is pronouncing the letter “R.” The Spanish “R” is correctly pronounced by putting your tongue behind your front teeth and making a vibrating “R” sound.

The English “R” is the polar opposite; you want your tongue away from your teeth to prevent generating the vibrating sound you create when pronouncing, right?

This is a typical error while learning Spanish; you should practise vibrating your tongue behind your teeth; it will help you pronounce the Spanish “R.”

Adjective placement before a noun

This is one of the most typical grammar errors made by new Spanish students. Forget about English sentence structure guidelines, we’re studying Spanish here.

The most common errors with this are noted below.

“Hot water” is how we phrase it in English.

In Spanish, the reverse is true! you say “Agua caliente.”

Another example is:

“Wash in hot water” is an English phrase; if you want to express that in Spanish, you don’t say it “Lavar con caliente agua“. The right way to phrase it is “Lavar con agua caliente“.

Do you notice how English and Spanish are reversed? Try not to screw this up, and you may be able to advance from the “Beginner” level a little bit.

Correct word usage

The most foolish thing to do while learning a new language is to expect that any given term has the same meaning as an English one. You wouldn’t want to make your Spanish audience laugh all day, would you?

Purchase a Spanish dictionary to educate yourself on these often-misunderstood Spanish terms. But, to make things easier for you, here’s a list of commonly misunderstood terms.

This is one of many typical blunders in Spanish learning. For this reason, Spanish students all around the globe misuse these terms.

  • Mejor – Often confused with the English term Major, which is ludicrous. In Spanish, this term means “better.”
  • Alegre – You may believe that this is the Spanish term for alligator! You, my friend, are incorrect. This word means “joyful.”
  • Cerrar – often misunderstood as carrier or career; certainly, if you used it in your speech, it would end your career. In Spanish, the term means “cerrar.”
  • Nubes – Maybe you assume this is where the term “Noobies” comes from. Wrong! In Spanish, this term signifies “clouds.”
  • Universidad – Probably clear to others, you’d believe this term implies Universe, right? My dear reader, it means “college” and “university”.
  • Tallar – Doesn’t it sound like “teller” or “tailor”? Wrong! In Spanish, this term means “carve.”

It’s not a large list of often misunderstood Spanish terms, but it could help you out a little.

Practice!

Last but not least, the most crucial consideration in learning a new language. This may be clear at this point for you guys who are learning a new language.

Practice is essential while learning a new language, whether it be Spanish, English, or even Latin. As they say, practice makes perfect.

Yes, absolutely.

Just keep in mind that the pronunciation of the Spanish “R” differs significantly from that of the English “R.”

Another consideration is correct word use. You should practise it as well since you could utilise your Spanish one day and talk to a Spanish audience, and you don’t want to be laughed at, do you?

Also, of course! The ideal approach to practise Spanish is to locate a Spanish friend, much better if they are a natural Spanish speaker, so you can have a great time studying Spanish together.

Speaking in front of a mirror may be beneficial, but it would be worthless if you were speaking to yourself, right?

You wouldn’t know whether you were saying or pronouncing it properly, would you? This is the most crucial aspect of all. P.R.A.C.T.I.C.E.! Alternatively, you can use iScribo to practise your Spanish online. It will hold you by hand and make your Spanish learning curve exponential.

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Writing in Spanish

What You Need to Know About the Spanish Imperative

The imperative mood is used to command or request something. Its main characteristics are that it does not appear in subordinate clauses, that it admits enclitic personal pronouns, and that the imperative verbs exist in the first person since we cannot give orders to ourselves.

You must keep in mind that there are regular and irregular verbs, and this is what will depend on how the verb is formed in the imperative. In this post we will focus on regular verbs.

Form and types of imperative

The imperative mood is only formed in the present tense; other grammatical resources, such as modal verbs, are used to give commands in any other tense.

There are two types of imperative:

  • The affirmative: ¡Ven aquí! (Come here!)
  • The negative: (que +) no + verb in the imperative mood (which is formed with the present subjunctive). ¡No conduzcas! (Don’t drive!)

Imperative in positive sentences with regular verbs

-ar-er-ir
(you, second person of singular)bailabebeparte
Usted (you, second person of singular, polite form)bailebebaparta
Vosotros (you, second person of plural)bailadbebedpartid
Ustedes (you, second person of plural, polite form)bailenbebanpartan

Here you have some examples of imperative:

Bailad hasta que salga el sol (Dance until the sun comes up).

Bebed agua, hace mucho calor (Drink water, it’s very hot).

Partan antes de que sea tarde (Leave before it’s too late).

Imperative in negative sentences with regular verbs

-ar-er-ir
(you, second person of singular)bailesbebaspartas
Usted (you, second person of singular, polite form)bailebebaparta
Vosotros (you, second person of plural)bailéisbebáispartáis
Ustedes (you, second person of plural, polite form)bailenbebanpartan

Some imperative examples:

Que no bailes así (Don’t dance like that).

No bebáis eso (Don’t drink that).

No partan antes del anochecer (Don’t leave before nightfall).

Most common errors

The most common mistake when forming the imperative mood is to use the verb in the infinitive, especially in the spoken language: *Sentaros en estas sillas (Sit on those chairs) instead of Sentaos en estas sillas.

This error is very frequent when using the verb ir (to go): *Ves a comprar el pan (Go to buy some bread) instead of Ve a comprar el pan.

*Irse is widely used in the spoken language, but is incorrect, it should be used id, idos and iros (not recommended but valid).

Some imperative examples:

* Irse de aquí antes de que me enfade (Get out of here before I get angry).

Id a por los gatos (Go get the cats).

Idos a la playa (Go to the beach).

Iros de compras al centro (Go shopping downtown).

The use of the infinitive as if it were an imperative is allowed only when preceded by a: ¡A comer! (Let’s eat!), and when the command is to a group in general and not to a single individual in particular: Salir por la puerta de emergencia y luego girar a la derecha (Exit through the emergency door and then turn right).

Practise non-stop

Practice is what gives the user all the confidence and skill necessary to form the imperative without mistakes. You will notice that in many regions and even countries, the incorrect use of imperative verbs is widespread. In iScribo we want to help you, so we invite you to try our tool and learn Spanish in the most correct way possible.

Categories
Spanish as a language

10 Latin and Spanish Writers to Improve Your Style

Looking for Spanish writers to help improve your writing style?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Discover 10 of the best Latin and Spanish writers working today and get to know some of their best works to moonlight your way towards writing better Spanish and discover different writing styles.

1. Julia Álvarez

Many of Álvarez’s works, as a poet and writer, tackle the complexities of living as both a Dominican and an American. In the Time of Butterflies, one of her most famous works was made into a film starring Salma Hayek and Marc Anthony.

She received the National Medal of Arts in 2013 and the Pura Belpré Award for Writing.

2. Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende, a dominating voice in the magical realism genre, utilises her best-selling novels to establish herself as a notable feminist voice in Hispanic literature.

She is the recipient of the National Prize in Literature and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, both of which were bestowed to her by President Barack Obama.

3. Mario Vargas Llosa

The Nobel Prize laureate in Literature is noted for his ability to masterfully span genres with his work, having written prolific literary criticism, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers.

His tales are largely inspired by his Peruvian ancestry and political activity.

4. Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez, a Colombian novelist, journalist, and short-story writer was renowned as the perfecter of magical realism, a form of literature that incorporates elements of fantasy into actual circumstances.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982 for his most famous work, the epic One Hundred Years of Solitude.

5. Laura Esquivel

Like Water for Chocolate, Esquivel’s globally best-selling magical realism romance book was made into a highly praised foreign language film.

She’s also authored short tales, films, and children’s plays, often including themes of magic.

6. Rosa Montero

Rosa Montero, a writer and a journalist, has created wonderful novels while simultaneously conducting intriguing interviews. Her book The Delta Function, 1981 is recognised as a key work of modern feminist theory, exploring the dualities of female existence.

Her work The Lunatic of the House, 2003 received both the Qué Leer Prize for the best book published in Spain and the Grinzane Cavour Prize for best foreign book in Italy.

Montero is presently a columnist for El País and has received the National Journalism Prize many times.

7. Enrique Vila-Matas

Enrique Vila-Matas was born in Barcelona and completed his military duty in Melilla when he penned his first book, Woman in the Mirror Contemplating the Landscape. He has worked in a variety of formats throughout his career, from cinema criticism and novels to essays and film screenplays.

His finest work is known for its sardonic and fragmentary style, which breaks down the line between fiction and reality.

Vila-Matas has received worldwide acclaim for his works and creative contributions, including the Italian Bottari Lattes Grinzane Prize, the French Prix Jean Carriere, and the Spanish Leteo Award, all for his novel Dublinesque (2010).

Vila-Matas’ writings have been translated into numerous languages and he is widely regarded as one of the most celebrated Spanish writers by both national and international reviewers.

8. Elvira Navarro

Navarro was featured in Granta’s Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists anthology issue in 2010. She released The Happy City in 2009, a book about an immigrant Chinese worker and a homeless Spanish guy.

The Happy City went on to win Spain’s Jaén Prize for best book and the Tormenta Prize for the best new author before being translated into English in 2013.

9. Sonia Hernández

Sonia Hernández, another entrant into Granta’s Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists, is a literary poet.

Hernández is also the editor-in-chief of the literary study journal Quaderns de Vallençana, which is devoted to the humanist Juan Ramón Masoliver.

10. Félix J. Palma

Felix J Palma is well-known in Spain for his magical realism works, and he is well-liked by both reviewers and the general people.

Palma, a master storyteller, has had several anthologies and short tales published, as well as a lot of literary honors.

His speculative fiction Map trilogy, which combines magical realism and history, has captivated readers all over the world.

Read with no borders

These are the top 10 best Latin and Spanish writers and their notable work reading which will improve your Spanish writing style.

As will iScribo, this AI-powered tool will take your Spanish writing skill to the next level.

What are you waiting for? Check the different writing styles on iScribo today, read these Spanish writers’ works, and improve your writing skills in no time to create good Spanish sentences.

Categories
Writing in Spanish

8 Reasons to Start Learning Spanish Today

Why is Spanish important to learn? Because it’s the second most spoken language in the world and offers amazing opportunities!

One of the main benefits of learning another language is the freedom it offers. Being multilingual opens up a wealth of opportunities in regard to travel, work, and relationships – particularly in today’s globally connected world. 

Spanish has several unique benefits that make it a great choice for anyone embarking on the journey to become bilingual. Not only is it one of the most spoken languages in the world (coming in at number two after Mandarin), it also has a reputation as being easier to learn than others.

So, for those wondering why is Spanish important to learn? We have some great reasons to help make the decision an easy one.

1. It’s the second most spoken language

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin. With an estimated 471 million native speakers, it beats even English. Not only is it the first language of those born in Spain, but it is the primary language of most South and Central American countries, which are becoming more economically important on the global stage. Even if you go to the USA, you’ll be amazed at how much Spanish is a part of everyday life in certain states. This shows the importance of learning Spanish and why you should consider it instead of a less widely spoken language.

2. It’s fairly easy to learn

The great thing about Spanish is that it has clear rules, and there aren’t many exceptions to them. This isn’t the case with languages like English and French, which have many more exceptions.

Even reading Spanish is easier than most languages, as it is almost completely phonetic. When you look at a word in Spanish, more often than not you can easily sound out the letters and pronounce them correctly, unlike some common English words like ‘thought’ and ‘knead’. It also helps that many words are similar to their English counterparts, which makes remembering them a breeze.

Plus, there are countless resources available to learn the language, including courses (both online and in-person), audio lessons, books, videos, and more. So, there’s nothing stopping you from starting to learn Spanish today!

3. It can advance careers

As we mentioned earlier, speaking Spanish can open up a host of career opportunities. Not only does being multilingual impress employers, but you can take that skill and apply it to different positions at foreign-owned companies.

For example, if there is a promotion up for offer, and it’s between two people, it is much more likely that the person who can speak Spanish will get it. They can help expand the customer base beyond just English speakers. This is why employers frequently seek people who speak more than one language – with Spanish being one of the most in-demand.

Just think of the diversity of Spanish-speaking countries and their many varied industries, whether it’s mining in Chile, solar power in Peru, manufacturing in Mexico, petroleum in Colombia, and tourism and agriculture in Spain. They all trade with the world and need employees who speak Spanish and second languages to do business

4. It makes it easier to travel

The importance of learning Spanish in the 21st Century can’t be underestimated, especially for those who like to travel. For one, it makes visiting Spanish-speaking countries easier. These exist all over the globe, from Europe to South and Central America. Similarly, it gives you more freedom during your holidays. Rather than relegating yourself to the well-worn tourist paths, where almost everyone speaks English, learning Spanish is your passport to travel with confidence.

This bilingual ability opens up an entire world outside the package holidays. It allows you to explore without limits and interact with locals. These are the experiences that create lasting memories, and which aren’t possible when you don’t speak Spanish.

5. You have 21 countries where you can study abroad

No well-rounded university education is complete without a semester studying abroad. Of course, a major cause of anxiety for students planning an international adventure to a Spanish-speaking country is the language barrier. Learning the language beforehand, however, eliminates this anxiety.

Knowing a little (or a lot) of Spanish makes it easy to head off to a country like Spain or Colombia with confidence. An added bonus is it makes the actual studying even easier. Ask anyone who’s had to endure a three-hour university lecture in a language they don’t understand if they wish they’d known the language beforehand, and the answer will invariably be yes. That aside, learning Spanish opens up a person’s worldview. There are 21 countries that count Spanish as an official language. Just think of the amazing adventures you can have honing your language, having adventures, and discovering the world.

6. It offers more entertainment options

Were you one of the people watching the world’s most in-demand series on Netflix, Money Heist? This Spanish language series – La Casa de Papel in Spanish – was a fantastic opportunity to enjoy a crime caper and learn more about the Spanish psyche. Learning the language allows anyone to enjoy all that Spanish media has to offer. At any given time, there are so many popular Spanish series and movies on streaming services. Being able to understand what the actors are actually saying is immensely better than relying purely on subtitles.

There’s also the question of Spanish-language books. Whether a person is reading for education or entertainment, they are bound to miss out on both vital information and subtle nuances if they don’t have a strong grasp of Spanish. The best way to eliminate these headaches and devour all the Spanish-language media out there is to learn the language.

7. It offers more business opportunities

The importance of learning Spanish is huge, particularly for business owners. Speaking the language fluently opens up new markets in Spanish-speaking countries. And within those new markets is a whole new demographic of customers. In short, being bilingual will help any business owner achieve the core principle of growth.

Say a person owns a restaurant and wants to open a chain in a Spanish-speaking country. They’ll need to know the language to make this happen. Knowing the language means the owner can better give his or her customers what they want, which will bring in more business, which leads to greater profits, and on and on.

8. It can actually help improve English

This may sound counterintuitive but learning Spanish can actually help a student improve their English at the same time. As native speakers, we grow up learning English from family and friends. This natural method of language learning often results in many people not fully grasping the underlying mechanics of the language.

However, learning a second language like Spanish can help the student see English with new eyes – particularly as Spanish has a very structured grammar with minimal exceptions to the rules, unlike English. The learning process reveals the fundamental basics and complex principles of grammar and syntax. Next thing the student knows, their English is improving right along with their Spanish. This is the direct result of learning the rules of a foreign language and being able to apply those rules to the native language. It makes the student better at both.

Start learning Spanish today

The importance of learning Spanish in the 21st Century is growing as the world becomes ever more interconnected. In the internet age, there are ever more opportunities to learn a new language like Spanish, and with so many exciting Spanish-speaking countries becoming more globalised, there are opportunities ahead. So why not give it a try with iScribo and see how you go trying to learn Spanish. ¡Vamos!

Categories
Improving language

What pleonasms does Spanish grammar allow?

If we look at the RAE, redundancy in Spanish is “the repetition or excessive use of a word or concept”. If we want to be more technical, we will use the term pleonasm, which is “the use in a sentence of one or more words that are unnecessary for it to make complete sense”.

The Spanish language uses redundancies regularly, especially in those regions or countries where they like to resort to exaggeration in speech, such as in Andalusia or Venezuela, where you will hear “que valga la redundancia” (excuse the repetition) often. The Spanish Academy allows the use of some redundancies that enrich the language and have been included in the daily life of Spanish speakers.

Spanish RAE, what is going on?

Sube para arriba (‘go up upwards’) or baja para abajo (‘go down downwards’). Can you imagine yourself subiendo para abajo (going up downwards) o bajando para arriba (going down upward)? We can always defy the laws of physics to try it! The RAE allows us to use pleonasms in the oral and colloquial speech of the Spanish language if we use these resources with expressive or emphatic value but advises us to avoid them in written texts.

Lo vi con mis propios ojos (I saw it with my own eyes) and lo escuché con mis propias orejas (I heard it with my own ears)

Here we have two examples of expressive pleonasm, so they are correct. How strange it is to use these expressions when in theory you cannot see through someone else’s eyes or hear with their ears. But… Is this true? Well… let’s ask people who are blind or deaf, they will tell you that they do see through their guide dogs or are able to hear when someone interprets sign language for them!

What’s more, have you ever travelled through the eyes of a friend? Many of our friends send us photos of their journeys and share them with us.

You cannot go in without cita previa (a prior appointment)

There is nothing wrong with this “presumed pleonasm” as it may provide new nuances. All appointments are prior appointments, but by prior appointment, we mean appointments made in advance and through a non-direct channel, such as the telephone or the Internet. If you meet your colleague, you have an appointment, but it obviously does not have the nuance of a prior appointment.

How do you know if you are using a pleonasm, or you are just emphasising?

The use of pleonasms depends on the ironic character of the speaker, but we should not take for granted what does not belong to us, as in the incorrect pleonasm casualidad imprevista (unforeseen chance), which has no emphatic or stylistic value. We all know that “chance” is a circumstance that cannot be foreseen. In iScribo we advise you to follow the logic of your brain and then, little by little, you will learn all the details that will allow you to master Spanish grammar. With the help of our grammar checker, you will learn how to use the pleonasms that are allowed. Try it today!

Categories
Spanish as a language

Why It’s Easy for Ukrainians to Learn Spanish

The international political landscape has put Ukraine in the eye of the storm. We see in the news interviews with Ukrainian people who speak as if they were Spanish natives. At iScribo we want to contribute in some way to pay tribute to these people, and that is why today we are going to talk to you about the Ukrainian language and why the inhabitants of Ukraine decide to learn Spanish as a foreign language.

At iScribo we defend the power of communication as a tool to avoid conflicts. Languages are a fundamental part of communication and understanding. Also, in today’s post, you can find out a little more about Slavic languages.

Ukranian language

First of all, let’s talk a bit about Ukrainian. It belongs to the East Slavic languages family and is the only official language of the country. It is spoken by two-thirds of the population, although it should be noted that a large proportion of Ukrainians speak Russian, especially in the eastern part of the country, sometimes as the only language or bilingually alongside Ukrainian.

After the Soviet era, the Ukrainian government began a Ukrainianisation campaign to encourage the use of the language as it had been losing speakers for some time. This campaign required the use of Ukrainian dubbing or subtitles for all foreign broadcasts.

Meet the Slavic languages

Slavic languages belong to the Indo-European linguistic family and use the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets for writing. What diversity!

They are spoken in Central Europe, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and Northern Asia. In addition, as if they didn’t already sound like extraordinary languages, there are several ways to classify Slavic languages, in this case, let’s mention them by their geographical classification:

– East Slavic – Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian.

– West Slavic – Polish, Slovak, Czech, Moravian, Sorbian, Kashubian, and Silesian languages; there are also two languages that have disappeared – Polabian and Slovincian.

– South Slavic – Slovene, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Macedonian, and Bulgarian, as well as Old Slavic, now extinct.

Let’s compare

More and more countries understand the importance of languages, which is why they include the learning of a second or third foreign language in their educational curricula and political programs.

In Ukraine, the most studied foreign languages are Russian, English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, and Arabic.

Slavic languages are more complex grammatically

We are always told that Slavic languages are very difficult to learn. The truth is that nouns are inflected and change form in terms of gender (not only masculine and feminine but also in the neuter gender) and number (in addition to singular and plural there is also dual).

Too much information? Well, that’s not all – the verb marks person, number, aspect, tense, mood, and sometimes gender. As if that weren’t enough, declension is applied in up to seven cases to nouns, adjectives, pronouns, and sometimes numerals.

Oh, dear! Looking at it this way, it should not seem strange that a Spanish speaker has more difficulty learning Ukrainian than the other way around.

Ukrainian is somewhat more complex

Spanish is a Romance language that also descends from the Indo-European languages, but in this case from spoken Latin.

Moreover, as we have already seen on other occasions, Spanish is heavily influenced by Arabic for historical reasons, for example, the words ojalá (hopefully), alacena (cupboard), or alfombra (carpet). The Spanish language has had little contact with the Slavic languages throughout its history, so there is little influence between the two, for example, the word zar (czar) comes from Russian, but we do not have as many as we have with Greek, English or French.

For a person who speaks Ukrainian, learning Spanish is not a big challenge. The Spanish grammar is much less complicated, and the phonemes are simpler. We could test whether for a Slavic speaker, understanding Cuban Spanish is a challenge or not in terms of lexical diversity and intonation when speaking, it would be fun, wouldn’t it?

As you can see, all languages have a degree of difficulty when they are not your mother tongue, but if we stop to analyse the history and linguistics of each of them, we will realise that the difficulties we face when learning our own language help us and facilitate the path to learning a new one. At iScribo we love languages, this same passion leads us to invite you to improve and learn Spanish without complications. Visit us and discover how our tool works.

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