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Top 10 Spanish Mistakes

My Spanish is about as good as you’d expect from someone who spent two weeks on Duolingo two months ago: not great. Kenny is better at it than me, but we are a far cry from even conversational Spanish.

Our first three months abroad are in Spanish-speaking countries. Some people speak some English, but I mostly get by with my smile-point-“por favor” method.  While this works most of the time, we’ve made our fair share of mistakes, some more embarrassing than others.

Here are our worst offenses (most of which revolve around me trying to order coffee). And these are just the ones we know about about! Who knows how many ridiculous responses I’ve given that I didn’t even realize were embarrassing.

I ordered a “Chocolatte” which I thought was a mocha (with coffee) but was actually just hot chocolate. (In my defense, there was an entire Chocolate Caliente section, which I did know was hot chocolate, and the Chocolatte was not in that section!)

When asked what size coffee, Kenny responded with “largo” (long) instead of “grande” (large). He ordered a long coffee. (This is extra embarrassing as a Starbucks regular who is familiar with the word grande when ordering coffee.)

After placing my coffee order, the barista asked “Algo mas?” (“Anything else?”). I responded with “Aqui” (“for here.”).

Kenny asked me in Spanish if I wanted to get a drink in Parque Lleras (bar district) after dinner. I thought he asked if I wanted to walk home through a different park (a regular non-drinking park), and I responded that it was too late for that. Only when we got home and I said we should have gotten a drink at Parque Lleras did we realize we were having two different conversations.

I  ordered my iced coffee “con leche” (with milk). They brought me my iced coffee and a small cup of hot, steamed milk. So close.

We  ordered “Un Club Colombia Rojo y un Club Colombia Negro” (one red ale and one dark beer). The waiter says, “Dos?” (“Two?”). We say “Si” (yes), because we wanted a total of two beers. He brought us a bucket of four beers – two of each.

At a fast food place, Kenny tells the girl at the register we’re “vegetariana” (vegetarian). She takes a menu and motions crossing off the meats and the only thing I understand is “mas arroz” (more rice) and we really think we got it. Our food still came with ground beef.

I ask the waitress for “un affogato tradicional y un affogato matcha” (one regular affogato and one matcha affogato). Only one came, even though we were charged for both. We went back a different day and this time Kenny ordered “un affogato tradicional y un affogato matcha”. And it happened again!! Only one came and we were charged for both!! We have literally no idea how this happened or where we went wrong, but we didn’t speak enough Spanish to dispute the bill. This one would have been ranked lower than three had it not happened TWICE!

My coffee total was 8,000 and I tried to pay with a 1,000 bill instead of a 10,000 bill. The barista looked at me like I was a real dummy.

We ordered “dos Aguillas” (two Aguilla brand beers) and we later received “dos tequilas” (two tequila shots)


What’s your most embarrassing translation mix-up?