While Spanish and English have a lot in common thanks to shared Latin roots, their differences know no bounds. I minored in Spanish in college and spent a year in Ecuador practicing the language, but I learned a few things that I didn’t know until I started to have more conversations with native speakers. If you already knew some or most of the differences below, then that shows you definitely know a thing or two. 🙂
Here’s my list of the 10 Uncommonly Known Differences Between English and Spanish:
- Tomar una decisión = make a decision
In English, we would think “tomar” means only “to take” but not in the sense of decision making. Spanish speakers view it differently.
- Dar un examen = take a test; tomar un examen = give an exam
In English, we take tests as students and give exams as teachers. However, in Spanish, it’s the other way around for these two expressions.
- Casi muero. = I almost died.; Por poco me matan. = They nearly killed me.
In English, we would use “die” in the past tense, but Spanish speakers use the verbs in the present tense with “casi” or “por poco” when talking about possible consequences from past actions.
- “Perder” and “to miss”
In English, we say “I missed the bus,” but in Spanish, they say, “Perdí el bus.” Perder can also mean “to lose” and “to waste” and a few other things. If you miss someone, you would use “extrañar” or “echar de menos.” Spanish also uses “faltar” to mean “miss” or “missing” in a lot of other uses.
- Cuán = how (to what degree/to what extent)
I don’t remember learning about this interrogative word. In English, we just use “how much” or “how many” before nouns or simply “how” before adjectives/adverbs. In Spanish, they use “Cuán” before adjectives/adverbs; for example, “¿Cuán grande es el café?”
- Romper = to tear/to break
In English, we use “to break” when we actually damage something beyond repair, and we use “to tear” to talk about a rip in something. However, Spanish uses “romper” for both uses.
- Ninguno = none of something in singular form
In English, we could say, “There are no dogs here.” We could also say, “I don’t have any missed calls.” However, in Spanish, you don’t use the plural of ninguno unless the noun after it is always in plural. (No tenemos ningunas vacaciones este año.) “No hay ningún perro aquí.” “No tengo ninguna llamada perdida.”
- A comienzos de abril= At the beginning of April/In early April
A mediados de abril = In mid-April
A finales de abril = At the end of April
- El letrero decía “pare”. = The sign said “stop.”
In English, when we talk about the information on inanimate objects, we use the past tense of said. However, in Spanish, they use the imperfect form of decir to talk about the information from books, signs, etc.
- No he sabido de ellos. = I haven’t heard from them.
Let’s say you’re waiting to hear back about an interview or something important. In English, we say, “I haven’t heard anything.” (Unfortunately, that is common.) However, In Spanish, it’s common to use “saber” to express that you don’t know the results or answer yet.
Did you learn anything new? I hope you did! Do you know of any other uncommon differences between English and Spanish? Comment below to share. 🙂
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