What? Mario makes mistakes?
We all make mistakes from time to time. For example, do you know how to properly use lay and lie? It’s confusing because lay is the past tense of lay and laid is the past tense of laid. Confused yet? Most people do it “wrong,” and I put wrong in quotation marks because I don’t believe in labeling a person’s way of speaking as wrong or right. Dialects and pidgins aren’t wrong, and grammar snobs are just that: snobs. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love speaking well and even learning about grammar, but since I got a bit more educated, I’ve tried to stop being annoying about “correct” and “incorrect” grammar. (Related: hypercorrection and prescriptive poppycock.)
In Spanish, I am always on the hunt for unknown-to-me phrases/words as well as mistakes. Sometimes I find what I think is a mistake in the newspaper, but I’m not sure whether it actually is. So I ask—who else?—Mario. He almost always knows, but sometimes I mistake a find stumps him. This usually means it’s an error that’s become ingrained in people’s daily speech. I find these linguistics quirks fascinating. So if you do too, please read on to see if you’ve heard these “mistakes” when speaking to Spaniards or reading in Spanish.
Mario would like to note that he helped me with this, and so if you’re a Spaniard reading this, I’m not saying you speak “wrong” in any way, just that I find linguistic curiosities fascinating.
- “Dile a mis padres” / “Le dije [a Sergio y Víctor] que …”—I love this one. Mario does it all the time. But so does everyone else I know: Mario’s family and friends, teachers I work with, and people on the street. It’s technically wrong; it should be “Diles a mis padres” and “Les dije [a Sergio y Víctor] que …” but it’s usually said like I wrote above. Listen for this one!
- “Nada de esto hubiera sucedido si él no hubiera hecho lo que hizo.”—This one too is quite common. Of course, the correct way to say it is “Nada de esto habría sucedido si él no hubiera hecho lo que hizo.” It’s said both ways. I’m not sure if there’s a difference in connotation or if it’s simply a way of expressing oneself in a different way.
- “Fijaros bien” / “Estaros quietos”—I hear the vosotros form a lot, as I work in classrooms where the teachers are always addressing groups of children, so I get the chance to listen and see if they say “fijaros” instead of the correct form “fijaos” or “estaros” instead of the correct form “estaos.” I suppose this comes about because “fijaos” and “estaos” sound a bit odd and are a bit more difficult to pronounce, but I’m no expert.
- “Hablastes con ella?”—This definitely isn’t as widespread as the above-mentioned examples, but it does happen, although I think people are more aware of the fact that it’s an error. It should, of course, be “¿Hablaste con ella?” The Cervantes Virtual Center speaks of this, citing as a grave error that has even begun to invade the written word. (Oh the horror!) I do love that they call it a “vulgarismo,” a vulgarism.
- “Sal para fuera” “Sube arriba” / “Baja abajo—These are not errors in such, but rather redundancies. Of course, in English there are many examples of this phenomenon: “free gift,” “end result,” “future plans,” and “safe haven,” just to name a few. We’re taught in composition classes to eliminate redundancies in order to smarten up our writing.
I tried my best not to include obvious ones that most educated people know are incorrect, like the confusion of “b” and “v,” “laísmo” (even though “leísmo” is accepted), saying “habían” when it should be “había,” etc.
Have you noticed any other “mistakes” that native speakers make?