Spanish language – common mistakes

by Juan Miguel Regueifero, October 20, 2016

Most foreign visitors to Havana having some basic knowledge of Spanish language or trying to learn it by themselves make a common mistake, it´s a grammar confusion they have from the very beginning. These visitors assume that all nouns ending in O are masculine and all those ending in A are feminine. Sometimes they feel confident saying wrong phrases like la problema, la día, el mano and el foto, but what really worries me is the fact that many Cubans born and raised in our beautiful island do not get to give a convincing explanation with clear examples, which leaves the bold foreign learners even more confused on their will to learn Cervantes’s language.

Below you can see two rules that could be used to help those who honor our country by visiting us and trying to speak our mother tongue:

  1. Even though in many textbooks you find a first rule saying that all nouns ending in O are masculine (they use the definite article EL) it is necessary to pay attention to the following exceptions:

    Exception 1: La mano.
    Exception 2: Abbreviations ending in O of words ending in A.

    Examples: La foto which is the abbreviation of fotografía.
    La moto which is the abbreviation motocicleta.
    La radio which is the abbreviation radiofonía.

  2. The second rules talks about nouns ending in A. These nouns are supposed to be feminine as a rule (they use the definite article LA) but again, we need to pay attention to the exceptions:

    Exception 1: Lots of nouns ending in MA are masculine.
    Examples: El tema, El aroma, El fantasma, El diploma, El sistema, El programa, El idioma, El problema
    Exception 2: Lots of nouns starting with the sound A and ending in A are masculine.
    Examples: El agua, El alma, El hacha, El atlas, El hada.

As you can see all rules should be explained including the exceptions, otherwise they may become a source of common mistakes. The two rules mentioned above are not the only ones related to the gender of nouns, but they are key rules when speaking the beautiful Spanish language. We´ll be in touch and will continue to explain some other facts concerning the teaching-learning process of languages.

Nice day for you all !!!

2 thoughts on “Spanish language – common mistakes”

  1. Stephanie Nelson says:

    For me, learning Spanish is very tricky because of all of the verb conjugations. Argghhh! Help me! However, practice makes perfect I suppose.

  2. Annie Carey says:

    The Spanish that I was taught many years ago was simple vocabulary, verbs- regular and irregular, but having lived in Cuba for a few years, Cuban Spanish is different. In Cuba it is all Spanish – Fast and shortened. No text book could even begin to prepare you for this total immersion that is thrown at you. It is an experience that could never be forgotten. I enjoy living in Cuba, one of the most historic and beautiful islands in the Caribbean.

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