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Translating documents isn’t easy – it’s a skill that doesn’t just require knowledge about two languages, but the understanding of their culture as well as peculiarities. Unfortunately, not many translators have the latter, which leads to misunderstandings and awkward mistakes.

Here, our all languages translation service provider discusses three common English to Spanish translation mistakes one should avoid:

1. False friends

When words look similar in two languages but have different meanings, they’re referred to as false friends. This is, without a doubt, one of the most challenging things that translators have to deal with.

In addition, you should be aware of words with double meanings. This is where an experienced, native translator can be extremely useful. Following are two examples of false friends:

  • Eventually ≠ eventualmente (is ‘finalmente’)
  • Actually ≠ actualmente (is ‘en realidad’).

2. Differences between ‘ser’ y ‘estar’

This is probably the most common mistake when translating in Spanish. One can translate the verb ‘to be’ in two ways: ‘ser’ y ‘estar.’ These aren’t synonyms. In most cases, using one in the place of the other can completely change the meaning of a sentence.

The verb ‘ser’ refers to lasting or permanent attributes like relationships, origin, time, characteristics, occupations, and descriptions. Whereas, ‘estar’ indicates emotion, condition, action, location, or position. Here are some examples:

  • Ser listo = to be smart / Estar listo = to be ready
  • Ser aburrido = to be boring / Estar aburrido = to be bored

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3. Not knowing the dialect

There’s one common mistake when translating English to Spanish: not knowing which variant of Spanish to write. Since Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries, there are a plethora of dialects and regional variances.

This happens for English too when, for example, writing for the UK versus the US. However, in Spanish, there are more than a couple of dialects. The most common differences are in vocabulary – and while the pronunciation also varies (for example, yeísmo or seseo), those aren’t relevant in translations.

While translating, translators should know whether or not they’re writing for a specific country. This way, they’ll know what vocabulary and wordings to choose. Yes, there’s ‘neutral Spanish,’ too, which is inspired by Mexico. But if you’re looking to attract and communicate accurately for a specific market, writing in their specific dialect (localisation) is the best thing you can do.

This isn’t just a big problem in translation projects, but in communication between Spanish-speaking people too – and it’s always amusing to learn how they refer to specific things in other countries. For example, here’s how you say popcorn in Spanish: cabritas in Chile, pororo in Paraguay, poporopos in Guatemala, cotufas in Venezuela, crispetas in Columbia, canchitas in Peru, pochoclo in Argentina, and palomitas in Spain and Mexico, and the list goes on – so many words to describe a simple snack!

For all these reasons, as Translation Online, we provide translation services with translation experts who command the Spanish-speaking country’s dialect. You can also get support from our company for the highest quality and 100% correct translation services.

Get guaranteed quality with Translation Online’s professional translation services

At Translation Online, our document translation service is offered by native speaker linguists of the target language with at least five years of experience in the industry. We guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with our services.

Get in touch with us for more information on our certified translations for official use!

We offer translation services done by translation experts who are fluent in both languages ​​at the native language level. In this way, we minimize the margin of error in translations. We guarantee that the text to be translated into languages ​​widely used worldwide, such as Spanish and English, is 100% intelligible. You can get reliable translation services from English to Spanish or Spanish to English by contacting our company.