While English may seem easy at first glance, there are so many exceptions to the rules that sometimes the language seems designed to make life difficult for students.
It’s enough to make you want to tear your hair out!
As translator and English teacher Tara Lowe puts it: “Spaniards, we English speakers understand your pain.
“Patience, determination and above all, native English speaker friends, partners and work colleagues are vital to your success in learning this beautiful language.”
Spanish is a phonetic language, so what you see is what you get. English is another story. Common mistakes by Spaniards include adding an ‘e’ in front of words beginning with ‘s’ plus consonants, like e-snow or even e-Spain. Tara Lowe also points out how difficult the final ‘s’ is – especially for people from the south of Spain.
Spanish plurals are fairly straightforward, but in English, it’s a completely different ball game. Spanish students often get in a muddle over plurals that stay the same as in the singular (like sheep) or with nouns that change drastically in the plural, as in the case of mouse/mice or foot/feet.
Is it any wonder Spaniards get wound up about English spelling? Tara Lowe says: Where is the “gh” in “though”? Why do I say “alive” like “five” but “live” like “with”? And how come “wood” (noun) is pronounced the same as “would” (conditional)?
English is full of horrible irregular verbs like drink, drank, drunk, as an example. What’s wrong with just sticking an -ed on the end of everything? But that would just be too easy, wouldn’t it?
Congratulations, you’ve studied your verb tables, been to all those classes and mastered the English language! Now it’s time to pack up and visit an English-speaking country… and discover you can’t understand a single word anyone is saying.
Jim and Jen couldn’t bear to bare all in front of their pet bear. Yes, a bizarre example of how English words can have completely different spellings and meanings, but sound exactly the same.
Do, does, did
There is no equivalent to this tongue-twisting auxiliary, or helping, verb in Spanish. That’s why frustrated Spaniards sometimes come up with questions like ‘I go?’ and negatives like ‘I not go’.
Let’s face it. When it comes to talking about the future, English is a mess. You can use ‘going to (Next week, I’m going to visit my cousins) or ‘will’ (What will you do when you grow up?) or even just the present (I leave on Monday). Sure there are rules, but couldn’t English just simplify the whole business?
With so many Spanish and English words looking almost identical, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking they mean the same thing. But watch out: you don’t want to get your preservatives (conservantes) mixed with your preservatives (condoms).
Welcome to phrasal verbs
This pesky pairing of verbs and prepositions which are the pet hate of students of English worldwide. A word of advice: don’t try learning long lists (take in, take out, take on…). Instead, try learning them in context. So if you are talking romantic dinners, you’ll need examples like ask out, dine out, stand up or fall for.