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Common mistakes in Spanish

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Common mistakes in Spanish Words and Phrases

In all languages there are some words that lead to mistakes in writing or use due to their similarity in pronunciation. Since this problem also exists in Spanish, we have prepared a selection of 100 words that frequently present problems to help you improve your Spanish. Remember that you can also consult our data base of "Spanish Words" (word of the day) to expand your vocabulary.

K: K, C vs. Z

Certain words in Spanish, such as caqui and quiosco, can often be seen spelled with a K. The Royal Spanish Language Academy recommends NOT using a K unless writing the word kilogram (kilógramo in Chile), or its abbreviation kilo, or kilo used as a prefix. Although less common, these can all also be written with a Q:  Quilogramo, quilógramo, quilo, quilo-.

Correct: Ayer me compré un kilo de caquis en un quiosco del mercado.
Yesterday I bought a kilo of persimmon at a stand in the market).
Incorrect: Ayer me compré un kilo de kakis en un kiosko del mercado.

U: U vs. O

In Spanish, when the word  Y appears before a word that begins with the sound /i/, written with or without an H, the Y changes to E. While this rule is quite well known, it seems less well known that that when the word O is used before another word that begins with the sound /o/, with or without H, the O changes to a U.

Correct: En la fiesta sólo había siete u ocho personas, por eso me fui.
(There were only seven or eight people at the party, that’s why I left).
Incorrect: En la fiesta sólo había siete o ocho personas, por eso me fui.

W: W vs. Gü

This letter is rarely used in Spanish. Its use is almost entirely limited to words taken from other languages, as in the word kiwi. An example of a spelling recommendation designed to standardize Spanish is the correct but rarely used written form of the word whiskey as güisqui.

Correct: Camarero, por favor, ¿puede servirme un güisqui con soda?
(Waiter, I’ll have a whiskey with soda please).
Not recommended: Camarero, por favor, ¿puede servirme un whisky con soda?

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