A Common Mistake in Spanish

by Patrick Jackson – LearningSpanishLikeCrazy

Today was a long and tiring day. I was going to go to bed as soon as I got home but I heard an English speaker make a very common mistake this afternoon at the gym where I work-out here in Medellin, Colombia.

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I want to tell you about it just to make sure that you never make the same mistake when speaking Spanish.

I don’t recall the English speaker’s name. But from his accent, I can tell that he is from New Zealand or Australia. Let’s just say that his name is Fred.

Fred is the type of guy who you always see at the refreshment stand at the gym. Usually drinking some type of nutritional shake while talking to the “muchacha” who works at the refreshment stand.

You hardly if ever see him on an exercise machine or lifting weights. It seems like he only goes to the gym to drink protein shakes and talk to the cute girl behind the refreshment stand.

Well this afternoon while Fred was at the refreshment stand in the gym, a Colombian guy asked Fred a question in English.

“What happened to the girl who used to work here (behind the refreshment stand?),” he asked Fred.

Fred, wanting to show the Colombian guy that he speaks Spanish as well the Colombian speaks English responded, “ella dio nacimiento gemelos.”

Fred was trying to say “she gave birth to twins.”

Well, the Spanish word “dio” does mean he/she gave.

And “nacimiento” does mean birth.

And “gemelos” means twins.

But “ella dio nacimiento gemelos” is not how you say “she gave birth to twins.” Do you know why? Because in Spanish one does not give birth. Well, at least not linguistically.

In Spanish, one “gives light” (dar a luz). So Fred should have said, “ella dio a luz gemelos” (she gave birth to twins.)

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