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Spanish Phrases You're Probably Saying Wrong

Updated: May 15

Are you learning Spanish and want to sound like a native? You might be surprised how easy it is to slip up on some common phrases. Here are some phrases and false cognates that often catch learners off guard:


a misunderstanding in Spanish
Confused with Spanish

  • "¡Estoy embarazada!"You might think you’re saying you're embarrassed, but you actually just announced you're pregnant! Instead, say "¡Estoy avergonzado/a!" to express embarrassment.

  • "Tengo 30 años."Pronunciation matters! Saying "anos" instead of "años" can turn a simple age declaration into a humorous mishap. Remember, the ñ sounds like the 'ny' in "canyon."

  • "¿Estás caliente?"This might sound like the right question to ask if someone is feeling warm, but it suggests they're feeling frisky. Use "¿Tienes calor?" instead.

  • "Ser" vs. "Estar"These verbs both translate to "to be," but aren't interchangeable. Use "ser" for permanent traits and "estar" for temporary states. For example, use "estoy cansado" (I am tired) not "soy cansado."

  • "Excitado/a"Saying "estoy excitado/a" can be taken in a sexual context. To express excitement safely, say "estoy emocionado/a."

  • "Sensible" vs. "Sensato"While "sensible" actually means sensitive, if you want to say someone is sensible, the correct word is "sensato."

  • "Constipado"In Spanish, "constipado" means you have a cold, not constipated. To discuss constipation, use "estreñido."

  • "Actualmente"This word translates to "currently," not "actually." If you want to say "actually," the correct phrases are "en realidad" or "de hecho."

  • "Introducir"It might sound like "introduce," but "introducir" means to insert. When introducing people, use "presentar," such as in "Quiero presentarte a Juan" (I want to introduce you to Juan).

  • "Asistir"It might sound like it means to assist, but "asistir" actually means to attend. To say you assisted someone, use "ayudar."

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