Ten common native speaker mistakes that non-native speakers master

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By Georgina Palencia.

Lee este artículo en español. 

Yes, of course, we do not speak perfectly because we are not perfect. And it is that, although even the name of our school invites us to think that Spanish is it, it is not. It was a mistake before, but now, all languages ​​are changing, and those who drive change are the same speakers.

We do want to be perfect in your process of learning Spanish in the present, and for that, as we have said, you have to accept mistakes as part of the process.

So, to continue demystifying the mistake, we have found it interesting to make a small list of common mistakes that a non-native Spanish speaker masters and that a native speaker does not always do. Students of Spanish as a second language cannot believe this. We, as Spanish teachers, realize that there are structures that they dominate, which our Hispanic communities learn with mistakes.

Let’s go with the list. Although, if you are a student of Spanish as a second language, you would know how to explain what the grammatical error is and not only correct it by changing one structure for another. I will add a minimum explanation.

1-Habían o Hubieron versus Había. The impersonality of the verb to have in its non-auxiliary use has no number. It only conjugates in the third person. But it is very common to hear between native speakers,habían muchas personas en la fiesta, o hubieron muchas personas. Generally, this mistake always occurs at other times than the present.

2-Le versus Les or vice versa. The inconsistency between the indirect object referent and its respective pronoun is almost imperceptible to the ears of the natives. Incorrect sentences such as Le he dicho a mis padres que vengan. Les regalaremos rosas a ella, they are very common, but the truth is that the first should be les and in the second le, it is not true?

3-Nos lo has dicho antes versus Nos los has dicho antes o incluso No los ha dicho antes. Another similar case of inconsistency between pronouns and referents is with the direct object, but even in its union with the indirect object in the person of we  (us). In all three examples, the last one is a real unawareness that this is not a pronoun and not the adverb of negation. And between the first two, and the explanation for the direct object pronoun also fits in the third case, lo / los. It would have to fit with the referent.  Although confusion can occur with all verbs, it is very common with the verb to say because it generally refers to a said idea even if it includes many edges. So the pronoun should be lo because it refers to that. In the second case, it seems that the speaker drags the plural of nos, and in the third case when he omits it, It looks like that she conceives it in the lo.

4-A ver versus Haber. A ver si quiere ir versus Haber si tienes suerte.  In both sentences, the reference is to the verb ver and not to the impersonal haber. But this exchange is very frequent between native speakers, and it seems that non-natives see the correct use of the verb more clearly.

5-La mayoría de los estudiantes fueron a la fiesta versus La mayoría de los estudiantes fue a la fiesta Although now the rule about when the verb can be singular and when the plural is broader compared to that agreement with the nucleus of the subject when it expresses a collective, even non-natives are firmer in supporting the most accepted and extended use: the singular.

5-Detrás mío versus Detrás de mí. Once the non-native student learns the possessive mío, he relates it to a possessed object and never to himself. The same would happen to tuyo. But this event is widespread among natives.

6-Dijistes versus Dijiste.  Perhaps because the second person singular in the present ends with the s is that in the past  tense, native speakers also tend to include it in that same person for no reason. The non-native speaker mentalizes the conjugations, and although the idea is that he connects thanks to the verbal paradigms, his connections will be from his conscious memory, so he does not have this tendency.

7-Andé vs Anduve. For that same reason of how he has learned the verbal paradigms is that, before verbs like this, there is no doubt about conjugation. The non-native speaker does not conjugate all the verbs under the regular paradigm, but is more aware of the irregular patterns and makes other types of connections.This one, for example, connects him with being and not with loving. Also because he consciously learns it in his vocabulary acquisition process. It is a verb included in the programs, not only for its useful meaning but also to promote the learning of these types of irregularities. This learning process is very different for native speakers.

8-A comido versus Ha comido.This frequent doubt and consequent error in writing are not so frequent in non-native speakers. Naturally, they have learned the past perfect first by seeing it, and then putting it into practice. Recognize then that it is a verbal formation and not a prepositional.

9-Si yo estudiare medicina sería psiquiatra versus Si yo estudiase/estudiara medicina sería psiquiatra. Faced with these conditional structures, or when using the imperfect subjunctive, the native speaker tends to confuse and alternate three forms. Not only the two  correspond to him and are alternate, but also a third that is a fusion of the other two, and which also existed in the past for the use of the future of the subjunctive, but which is already in disuse. Could it be that for the non-native it is enough to have to learn two to create one more?

Well, this is just a sample of common native-speaker mistakes that non-natives don’t make. Some other frequent ones are confusing and are common to both types of speakers. When we say to our students: Don’t worry, many natives are also wrong about this, they are not satisfied with that. They focus on learning the correct form and putting it into practice. They never hide behind a: But you understood me, right?

A native speaker does not always learn the correct way. His learning process is schooled but influenced by very dissimilar and popular contexts: television, the neighborhood, music. The truth is the non-native also resort much more than before to these other sources of acquisition and language practices. And he is excellent, even though he may also acquire language disorders. The most important thing here is he is practicing and acquiring his resources of original speech and culture.

Non-native students indeed make more mistakes than native students in their processes. This article is not about that. What I found interesting to share is that there are some mistakes in which a native has doubts, and a non-native is a teacher, even to explain it, point in favor for him.

.See you!

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