Common Spanish Translation Mistakes

Common Spanish Translation Mistakes
Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy


When speaking in a foreign language or translating a speaker must translate from the foreign language to his own language. Most non-native speakers of a language are not aware of this and do it the other way around, translating the foreign language by referring to their own language. This can lead to many misunderstandings and mistakes in translation. The most common translation mistakes are grammatical. Other common translation mistakes are either reference or context related. Language has many little traps that the unaccustomed or non-fluent speaker can fall into. It’s good to be aware of these frequently made mistakes to perfect a language and to be able to translate accurately from one language to another.

Here are some common translation mistakes made by people trying to translate into a foreign language or trying to translate a foreign language into their own:

It is important to keep track of the cases in Spanish, the case for month and country in Spanish remains in lowercase. For example, when translating an English date into Spanish the case of the month should be maintained and so the right translation for September 9th, 2001 is en septiembre 2001.

In English the use of conjugation can replace the need for commas, however, in Castillian, this rule does not apply. In English, we may say ’the houses, buildings, and districts, however when translating the incorrect usage would be to put a comma before y in the case of Casas, edificios y barrios.

When writing a language it is also important to have an understanding of the relation of nouns, verbs, and gender. Like in many foreign languages Spanish also like French relies on gender to conjugate the verb. The verb may have different conjugation based on tense and gender.

It is important to have a proper understanding of gender and the supporting conjugations when translating.

Another interesting difference when translating from English to a native language and vice versa is the choice of words having the same meaning. There are multiple words in Spanish that mean the same thing, however, the context determines the usage. For those who are not aware of these words and their meaning translation can have some hilarious or embarrassing results.

Another important tip is to remember that words that sound the same do not always mean the same thing. For example in the case of the word eventually, the right Spanish translation would be finalmente and not eventualmente.

Keeping these tips and rules in mind you can do a better job when translating from English to Spanish by avoiding the commonly made mistakes.

Read Also: Spanish vs Portuguese: A Linguistic Comparison

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Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy

Beth Worthy is the Cofounder & President of GMR Transcription Services, Inc., a California-based company that has been providing accurate and fast transcription services since 2004. She has enjoyed nearly ten years of success at GMR, playing a pivotal role in the company's growth. Under Beth's leadership, GMR Transcription doubled its sales within two years, earning recognition as one of the OC Business Journal's fastest-growing private companies. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids.