The most developed human ability, the one through which we build community, is speech. When we think about learning a language, we don’t initially think about grammar or spelling. We think about wanting to communicate, to meet people, to listen to songs or watch movies, and even to read in that language, connecting more directly with the culture.

When our students want to learn Spanish, they simply want to speak and speak. Like children when they start articulating their first words, that’s how we feel at the beginning. However, they often overlook that not knowing how to spell a word makes it much more complicated and time-consuming to achieve reading comprehension and writing skills.

Most Common Spelling Mistakes

The most common spelling mistakes our students make concern accentuation. It’s one of the areas where they usually encounter the most problems. Furthermore, these mistakes are among the most challenging to correct. Some students correct them immediately.

Many ask us how to correct this common error, and usually, the way is to learn Spanish with us and read books to understand the correct spelling of words. Repetition is the solution.


Writting Well or Losing the Message

The importance of spelling in Spanish is fundamental for message comprehension. If we don’t write an h when we mean ha ido (has gone) to grandma’s house, we won’t know what tense is being used or what message is being conveyed.

If we write with spelling mistakes, the message gets lost. We end up reading it so many times that, by wasting time on that, encountering so many errors makes the text seem lost. This difference is crucial between learning Spanish properly or improperly. That’s what our courses are for to teach you to write and express yourself correctly in Spanish.

Sounds that Confuse Us When Writing

There are words in Spanish that are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently, and their meanings also differ. The sound is the same, it’s just written differently, leading the student to make mistakes.

We must be careful when speaking and writing. Sounds can be confusing when written down, leading us to make mistakes in writing. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Haber and a ver: We use a ver to draw attention to something we want to explain. It can also be used if we want to affirm something, with the same meaning as claro or naturalmente.
    • «¡A ver si nos vemos pronto! (Let’s see if we can meet soon!)»
    • «A ver, déjame que mire en la agenda y te llamo la próxima semana. (Let me see, let me check my schedule, and I’ll call you next week.)» 

 The verb haber is the auxiliary verb we use to form compound tenses, followed by a past participle.

  • «He comprado un coche nuevo. (I have bought a new car.)»
  • «Había ido al concesionario la semana pasada para verlo y ya me he decidido. (I had gone to the dealership last week to see it, and I’ve already made up my mind.)» 

     It is also the verb often used to denote existence and doesn’t have a subject; it’s impersonal.

  • «Hay mucha gente en la calle. (There are many people on the street.)»
  • «Estas vacaciones ha habido muchos turistas en la ciudad. (There have been many tourists in the city this vacation.)»
  • Hecho and echo: These are two verbs that are often confused and lead to significant errors. Their sound is completely the same, but their meanings differ. Hecho is the past participle of the verb hacer (to do/make).
    • «He hecho las tareas de español. (I have done the Spanish homework.)»
    • «Había hecho bien todos los ejercicios. (I had done all the exercises correctly.)» «Echo» is the first person present of the verb «echar» (to throw/put).
    • «Te echo de menos. (I miss you.)»

Errors Due to New Forms of Communication

Currently, a common mistake is not using both the question and exclamation marks. This error occurs due to new forms of communication, whether through chat or email.

In Spanish, we use these two marks at the beginning and end of sentences to indicate the intonation to be used. We don’t change the word order or have an auxiliary verb to indicate whether it’s a question or an exclamation.

This is an error our students quickly learn to rectify. When they write messages to us, whether by email or another means, they know they should use these marks. This way, our communication becomes clearer.

Agreement in Gender of Words

At first, understanding that there are two genders of words can be complicated. Concordance is crucial for conveying our message to the person we’re speaking with.

Agreement in the gender of words is learned quickly; we use images and related exercises to make it easier for our students to understand this difference.

It’s important to learn the agreement in the gender of words because some words change meaning depending on whether we use the feminine or masculine article. Here are some examples:

  • «el cura» (the priest) / «la cura» (the cure) 

«El cura de la parroquia es muy joven. (The parish priest is very young.)» «La cura de la Covid llegó muy pronto. (The cure for Covid arrived very soon.)»

  • «el coma» (a patient’s vegetative state) / «la coma» (a punctuation mark) «El motorista del accidente está en coma. (The motorcyclist from the accident is in a coma.)» 

«Has usado correctamente la coma en tu escrito, ¡enhorabuena! (You’ve used the comma correctly in your writing, congratulations!)»

  • «el orden» (putting things in order) / «la orden» (an order/command) «

A mi madre le gusta el orden, por eso ordeno mi habitación todas las semanas. (My mother likes order, that’s why I tidy my room every week.)» «El policía siguió la orden de sus superiores y puso las multas. (The policeman followed the order of his superiors and issued fines.)»

We will continue to discuss this topic in future posts. You can write to us and learn with us how to avoid those spelling mistakes.