The 7 deadly sins of Spanish
Judith González is a Spanish philologist and language consultant at the Fundéu RAE, who talked recently about the 7 deadly sins of Spanish.
Or, more precisely, of Spanish speakers.
She collaborates with the weekend radio magazine Por fin no es lunes (Finally, it’s not Monday), which I enjoy listening to at home.
In her section, called Dímelo bien (tell me about it correctly), Judith talks about interesting facts about languages, mostly about Spanish, how we use and misuse it or how it has evolved with time.
I’m compiling what she said in this post.
If you speak Spanish or are learning it, make sure you don’t fall into sin!
What are the 7 deadly sins?
Why do you use a plural when it’s not necessary?
Do you think that the singular is not enough?
I’m afraid you’re being greedy with language, my friend.
It’s typical in people who use the verb ‘haber’ (to be or to have) in the plural in the impersonal form.
There were lots of people
❌ Hubieron muchas personas
✅ Hubo muchas personas
There have been issues among employees
❌ Han habido problemas entre los trabajadores
✅ Ha habido problemas entre los trabajadores
Spanish gastronomy is rich, and many people, like me, love it.
But this doesn’t mean we have to eat/use every single word in the dictionary.
Even if a term is in the dictionary, we must use it properly.
One famous example on the subject of food is ‘almóndiga’ (meatball).
Although ‘almóndiga’ is registered in the Spanish language dictionary, it is an old term currently considered vulgar.
The correct term is ‘albóndiga’.
Don’t let it become one of your 7 deadly sins of Spanish!
Some Spanish speakers tend to combine words when they should be two.
I wonder if this is because of the Spanish idiom el roce hace el cariño?
This idiom means that the more you talk to and know a person, the easier to fall in love with them.
Do you pretend that by putting words together, they’ll have children in the form of adjectives, prepositions or who knows what? 🤦♀️
Forget about it.
Unquestionably one of the 7 deadly sins of Spanish!
Give words their space: ‘entre tanto’ (meanwhile), ‘a bordo’ (on board), ‘sobre todo’ (above all).
Homonyms represent envy in language, i.e., words with the same pronunciation but different meanings.
The ‘vaya’ (damn) that wants to become a ‘valla’ (fence).
Why ‘valla’ has two ‘l’ and I don’t have any? 😭
Or the ‘a ver’ (let’s see) that dreams with being ‘haber’ (to have or to be).
Some misused expressions can make people very angry.
For example, introduce a subordinate clause by using the preposition ‘de’ (of) with the relative pronoun ‘que’ (that/who/which) – known as ‘dequeísmo’.
I believe that
❌ Creo de que
✅ Creo que
Someone told me that
❌ Me han dicho de que
✅ Me han dicho que
These certainly belong among the 7 deadly sins of Spanish!
Some pronunciations, although they aren’t wrong because they represent an accent or a speech in a given region in Spain, could be considered a sign of laziness.
For example, the omission of the letter ‘d’ in past participles:
‘comío’ instead of ‘comido’ (eaten)
‘bebío’ instead of ‘bebido’ (drunk)
Also, a typical pronunciation of ‘es que’ in Madrid sounds more like ‘ej que’, as if you were too lazy to say ‘es que’.
Pride is another of the 7 deadly sins of Spanish – and we have two types of people guilty of pride in their Spanish language use.
Even if they make mistakes, we have those who will say: “I’ll speak how I want”, without a care of being misunderstood by their incorrect use of the language (written or orally).
We also have those who like to correct other people without being asked for help.
Translators and linguists can be guilty of pride.
We aren’t perfect! 🙏
But if you fall into pride, make sure your contribution is perfect.
There’s no better way to swallow your pride that trying to correct someone while making a mistake in your statement.
It’s common in social media, where people are so eager to share their opinion about whatever issue that they ignore details.
My deadly sins (in language)
As a translator, I try to avoid falling into these sins.
As a human, you may spot some ‘jugao’ in my speech in an informal conversation with my family or friends.
I’m only human, after all!
It’s important to be aware of them and avoid making these errors to ensure your message isn’t misunderstood.
When it comes to communication, remember that context is your friend!
It reminds me of a conversation I had on LinkedIn about brands using spelling errors on purpose to reach generation Z.
How can you avoid falling into these 7 deadly sins of Spanish?
Don’t take anything for granted.
Question everything and ask the experts at the Fundéu BBVA or the Royal Academy of Spanish Language, the RAE.
However, if you are too busy and need continuous help translating your content into Spanish or creating flawless and creative Spanish content, send me a message.
See you for the next post!