Making mistakes is one of the inevitable side effects of studying another language. False friends are one of the biggest pitfalls, but there’s also those moments where you haven’t understood the question properly, or you’ve got two similar words confused. Even though it’s an innocent mistake, it’s still toe-curlingly embarrassing! So to make you feel better about your own errors, read on for our round up of the most embarrassing mistakes in Spanish!

One letter makes all the difference…

“After a particularly noisy night in Poblesec, I bumped into my elderly neighbour on the stairs the next morning. We were talking about how noisy the street had been last night, she was telling me about how much the barrio has changed over the last few years and I said, “Ah, si, que pene.” She started laughing and wouldn’t explain why, and it was only once I’d asked my girlfriend that she told me I’d said, “Oh, yeah, what penis,” instead of saying “What a pity!” My face still goes red when I meet her in the stairwell!”

Confusing nada and nadie 

“One of my friends from Spanish class was having a party. I thought there would be snacks but it was more of a drinks party. I got home a bit drunk and my landlady asked how the party was. I said, “It was fun, but I’m so hungry – no he comido nadie!” (I haven’t eaten anyone) She started laughing and when she explained I cringed, such a stupid mistake!” 

False friends 

“Not long after I moved here I was out with my boyfriend’s friends, speaking Spanish, trying to integrate, you know. We were sitting on a terrace, I’d just made a tiny mistake in Spanish, I have a cigarette in one hand, a massive vermouth in the other and I announce to the whole table “I’m embarazada” (that is, pregnant, not embarrassed as I’d intended to say). A shocked silence fell as I took another drag of my cigarette and a big gulp of vermouth. Needless to say, when my boyfriend explained the mistake then I really was embarrassed!” 

Too hot to handle

“It’s the classic, right? Getting mixed up between I’m horny (estoy caliente) and I’m hot (tengo calor). But I almost died when I realised I’d been saying to my student’s dad, “I’m so horny today! Aren’t you horny? This weather makes me so horny! I’m never horny like this in England!” This went on for weeks until my 13-year-old student explained what I’d been saying. I thought it was innocent British weather chat! I was so mortified I almost dropped the class so I never had to see the dad again!” 

Paja and pajita

“I was in a bar and was served a huge clinking class of gin, tonic and ice. I asked the barman for a paja because I have sensitive teeth. To his credit, he didn’t even crack a smile, he just handed me a drinking straw. I had an uneasy feeling that I’d made a mistake however, and when my friends turned up they confirmed that I had, in fact, asked the waiter for masturbation, not a drinking straw (pajita). Every time he came over to our table for the rest of the night I went bright red – so embarrassing!”

Orange juice with a side of octopus

“I’d only been in Barcelona for a couple of weeks when I went for lunch in a bar near my school. They had one of those juicing machines, and I decided to get an orange juice with lunch. I ordered a sandwich and an orange juice, and the waitress asked me a question I didn’t understand. I guessed she was maybe asking if I wanted the fresh orange juice. I didn’t know the word for “fresh” so I clarified by taking a guess and saying “with pulp – con pulpo.” She gave me a very strange look and asked me something else. By this point I’d committed to my explanation and said, “Si, si, zumo con pulpo, zumo con pulpo!” I was confused when my orange juice and sandwich arrived along with a small plate of octopus. When I went back to class and told the story my Spanish teacher explained where I’d gone wrong. On the plus side, it was a memorable introduction to one of my favourite Spanish tapas!”