Very Common Mistakes Gringos Make When Speaking Spanish

In this article, I will tell you about some common mistakes that Americans or Gringos make when speaking Spanish. It involves a funny incident that ok place this morning. I want to share this story with you because it illustrates two very common mistakes that English speakers make when speaking Spanish.

This morning I went with a Colombian “amigo” to buy a “perrito” (puppy) for his daughter’s birthday. While in the “tienda de mascota” (pet shop), I noticed an English speaking male with his wife or girlfriend. I couldn’t figure out where he was from by listening to his accent. He wasn’t American.

But his native language was English. I believe that he was from New Zealand or Australia.

And I heard him ask the “muchacha” (girl) working in the “tienda de mascota” a question about one of the puppies. He asked,

¿Ese perrito es un muchacho? Is that puppy a boy?

The “muchacha” working in the store then gave him a very confused look. And then he asked her:

¿Ese perrito es un hombre? Is that puppy a man?

Then she turned and looked at her “compañera de trabajo” (co-worker) as if she wanted to ask “do you understand this foreigner? Why is he asking is an animal a human?”

Well, it is a common mistake for English speakers to refer to male animals as “muchachos” (boys) or “hombres” (men) when speaking Spanish. But the correct word for a male animal is “macho.”

For example:

Mi perra tuvo una camada de siete cachorros, cuatro hembras y tres machos.

My dog had a litter of seven puppies, four females and three males.

Back to the incident that took place this morning…

The English speaker then asked the “muchacha” (girl) another question. Referring to the same puppy, he asked:

¿Es una mujer?

Is it a woman?

And again, the “muchacha” turned and looked at her “compañera de trabajo” (co-worker) with a very puzzled look.

Well, it is also a common mistake for English speakers to refer to female animals as “mujeres” (women) when speaking Spanish. The correct word for a female animal is “hembra.”

By the way, besides “hombre” you may hear Spanish speakers refer to a male human being as a “varón.”

As we were leaving the “tienda de mascota” (pet shop), my Colombian “amigo” who also speaks English fluently – and happens to have a very warped “sentido del humor” (sense of humor) then said to me:

“Patrick, the Gringo’s mistake could have been worse. Imagine if he had made a mistake with his Spanish and asked the question in reverse: ‘¿Esa mujer es una perra?'”

By the way, in Colombia, I noticed that Colombians have a tendency to refer to any English-speaking foreigner as a “Gringo,” not just Americans.

Publicado por Pat Jackson

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