10 Words We Say In Spanish That Aren’t Really Spanish

By definition, they would be better classified under the category of anglicisms.  Anglicismos.  In the world of Spanish journalism, probably the worst mistake any young pocho reporter could make.  I should know.  It was me who was constantly getting corrected for using anglicismos when I was writing in Spanish… all those years ago now.  Yet, I had all but pretty much forgotten about all of those horribly bad memories – kidding – until one of my old friends, coincidentally one of my journalist buddies from those days, made the suggestion that I write about anglicisms too.

anglicism spanish anglicismo espanol juanofwords

I’m not sure how often I’ll write about anglicismos.  I guess that ultimately depends on how much you all might like the idea, or not.  If you do, and you have words of your own that you’d like to add to this list, or see in another post, let me know, and we might play this game again.  It could be a good compliment to our regular Mexi-Vocabulario?

These are the Top 10 Anglicisms that I use:

10. Troca – Truck.  In reality one should say camioneta, but I grew up in Texas and a lot of people here, well, we just say troca.

9. Yarda – Yard.  As in your lawn.  The correct word in Spanish is patio.  Although I’ve never been comfortable with saying voy a cortar el patio.  It just sounds funny to me.

8. Parqueadero – Parking lot.  At one point, I had actually made the transition from parqueadero to estacionamiento, but then I thought, why am I correcting my parents’ on their Spanish… and I stopped.

7. Estop sign – Stop sign.  I don’t really use it all that often.  Only when giving directions in Spanish.  Though the correct word in Spanish is alto.

6. La movie – Movie.  It should be pelicula or even cinta, but movie is just as acceptable these days también.

5. Mapear – To mop.  This is another one of those words that we just grew up with.  Even though I know it might be better to say limpiar I can’t really avoid saying mapear.

4. Textear – To text.  How else would you say that?  Seriously, I’m kind of stumped on this one.  Other than to say te mando un texto. 

3. Chance – Not as it is pronounced in English, although it means the same exact thing.  This word I pronounce more like cha-n-se.  I guess the right word instead would be oportunidad.

2. Sorri – An apology.  I’m sorry.  To apologize.  This one I just like because Niurka made it popular with her I’m sorri for you.  Instead, use disculpa.

1. Chequear – To check.  I’m always telling someone to checar, chequealo, chequear something.  Guilty as charged!  The correct terminology might include verificalo or compruebalo instead.

36 thoughts on “10 Words We Say In Spanish That Aren’t Really Spanish

  1. Yup. Heard all these, used all these, and got made fun of for using some of these with the wrong people. And they wonder why I stopped speaking Spanish?!

    1. LOL! Don’t get discouraged Stephanie. You should keep talking Spanish if you want to. Personally, I like knowing the right words and choosing to use the words I want however I choose.

    2. Hola Stephanie,

      You should not stop speaking Spanish because of other people. Instead make an effort to correct yourself. Knowing Spanish has really helped me out alot!


      Dan Gutierrez

    3. Stephanie I don’t think it is a big deal, I thing depending where you come from it is different. Back in the Dominican Republic Chequear is used in our daily life routine.

  2. LOL! I am guilty of using more than a few of the words on this list. But that was all before I moved to Mexico and learned the proper words like camioneta, trapear, estacionar, and cerrar con llave (in place of lackear, as in “laqueaste la puerta?) My grandma’s favorite anglicism was espeletear, in place of deletrear. 🙂

  3. ‘wachale’?1 my family is from Piedras Negras, right across the border from Eagle Pass (pronounced ‘ eee-gleh pahss’ by all!)

    1. Tienes razón, el patio no tiene nada que ver con hierba o césped, aunque no se dice “la césped” porque es un sustantivo masculino; es el césped.

  4. These words may look like of English origin, but most of they’re 100% rooted in Latin. Some of them have been accepted as by the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language (RAE).

    “Troca” is related to the Spanish words “trueque” and “trocar,” which come from the same Latin root, “troccare.” It means “to exchange” (one of the meanings of “truck” in English).

    “Yarda” comes from Latin, too -through French. Interestingly enough, the French translation of “yard” is “jardín” (same as in Spanish)… but it’s pronounced “yardá.”

    “Parqueadero” also comes from Latin “parricus.” It’s related to the Spanish “parque” (“park”). The RAE accepts “aparcamiento.”

    “Movie” is a Latin word too, related to the Spanish words “movimiento,” “mover.” The original term was “moving pictures” (“imágenes en movimiento”).

    “Text” comes from Latin “textus.” In Spanish it’s “texto” (a noun), so turning it into a verb (“textear”) it’s not that far-fetched.

    “Chance” is 100% accepted by the RAE as a legit Spanish word. It comes from French (therefore, from Latin), not from English.

    Same as “chequear”: The RAE has accepted it as a correct Spanish term too. It’s not of English origin: it comes from Arabic, through French.

  5. I love this Juan! Please keep sharing 🙂 I’m learning Spanish now (I’ve been learning all my life) from a tutor. Reading this post and the like help to know more or less how ‘locals’ speak.

  6. Great piece! One thing I like to tell students (soy profesora de español), is that these words are all appropriate in the proper context. It’s register (which is a reading of context) that tells us when, and when not, some words are better choices than others.

    Thanks Ubik for all the knowledge!! Linguists mostly agree that Spanglish is a legit dialect of Spanish. I’ve had students argue convincingly that rather than detract from Spanish, it adds to it and keeps people here in the US in touch with the language.

    I always say, it depends on what you’re doing with the language and with whom that determines if it’s effective communication. To some extent “troca” or “lonche” or “estop sign” are only meaningful to speakers of Spanish who are fluent, or conversant, in English. That may be true in some Spanish-speaking countries more than in others.

  7. Laprofe63, my Mom once said, “Qué bonito sunset” to a relative in Yucatán. Completely unaware that she had mashed the 2!
    The beauty is truly in being able to communicate with whomever you’re speaking with at the moment.

  8. The RAE accepts SOME words from that list as Spanish FROM THE UNITED STATES, and they are NOT used either in standard Spanish or outside the USA, AND despite their latin roots they are still product of the influence of English in our time. Personally, I don’t see why people not-from-the USA should say “forma” instead of “formulario”, “librería” instead of “biblioteca” (in Spanish librería means bookstore), “actual” instead of “real” (in Spanish actual means current), “embarazoso” instead of “vergonzoso”, even “too much” instead of “demasiado” (why say it in English when you are expected to speak SPANISH?) just for saying some examples. It seems our language is very unatractive, it is “not-cool”, “not-awesome” to speak Spanish correctly.

    1. Vic, I disagree. There is no “Standard” Spanish. That’s a common myth among certain people. Besides, the words I mentioned are not only understood in the USA, but also in other Spanish-speaking countries (Mexico, Puerto Rico).

      I don’t see why you’re bringing those examples (librería, embarazoso, actual), since they’re not mentioned here at all in the post.

      As I said, the words mentioned here, are perfectly Latin-based words which can be used in proper Spanish.

  9. Once it snowed in Arizona, so we went “sledding” using bits of old cardboard boxes. Since they didn’t slide too well on the snow, my cousin sat on a piece of box and yelled, “empushame!”

  10. It’s funny to be reminded that the word we use when speking Spanish aren’t real Spanish words. I love it, give us more words…

  11. I heard a “new” word on the radio the other day that immediately brought to mind this post of yours. The word was “Postear”. As in, “Cuando vas a postear las fotos de nuestras vacaciones?” And, “Hace mucho que no posteo algo nuevo en mi blog!”

    I hope you get as much a kick out of that new word as I did! 🙂

  12. Love this I grew up in Denton Texas and it wasn’t until I moved to Columbus Ohio and met other Mexicans that when I used these words they were like WHAT? And made fun of the way I spoke but I wouldn’t change they way I speak I even have my hubby saying some of the words now and my mom instead of mapear used “trapear” and I use yarda for the front yard and patio for the back yard lol and my aunt uses the word roca for rock/stone crazy thow didn’t know theses aren’t really words and idk if the word huerco is really to me it means kid changing the o to a A changed the sex meaning love the post

  13. I really hate how the Spanish language is being destroyed by many people that speak Spanish.
    I work in a company in San Fernando Valley in California, about 20 miles from Los Angeles.
    I am originally from Argentina. But I have lived more in the United States than my country of origin.
    I am bilingual.
    Most of the people I work with are from central America. But I noticed how badly they speak both languages.
    Some examples are only some :

    Lonchar : means to have lunch. They should use “almuerzo” or “almorzar”.

    Mapear : means mop the floor. They should use ” pasar el trapo de piso “.

    Esta liqueando : means it’s leaking. They should use “pierde”.

    Brekas : means brakes. They should use “frenos”.

    I could go on for hours. This is not even a handful. And they get angry at me when I correct them in Spanish and tell how to say these words in Spanish.

    I speak two languages Spanish and English. I don’t speak Spanglish. The Spanish language is so beautiful and I think it has much more in vocabulary than the English language .

    Please use and speak it correctly!!!!!

    1. The chicano culture of CA and the border states is by definition its own culture with aspects of Mexican and American culture. They don’t only use anglicized vocab but have their own slang and unique words that don’t exist in other latino and cultures. Telling us to “speak correctly” is like telling the people of Basque to speak French or Spanish “correctly”. I’ve always felt that the majority of people who believe in aggressively traditional language rules are scared of the change in demographic landscape around them. Perhaps they are afraid of being linguistically colonized, or they have a classist aversion to a lower class that mixes cultures, or a jigoist aversion to other latino cultures. Or as I would say here, Gracias por tu opinión gacha #sorrinosorri

    2. You should see how they talk in Argentina today (and basically every country, including Spain). Some Argentine linguists say that Buenos Aires is one of the most susceptible places to receive anglicisms.
      See my post below or just watch anything from Argentina and you’ll see.
      Honestly though, I agree with you on all of those words; basically any Spanglish people use that I don’t bugs me.

    3. Tomaso, hopefully you see this. I understand your dislike of Spanglish. I am a Spanish learner and I found this article because I am grasping with the word chequear. Everyone here in Arizona says it and I couldn’t even use the word verificar with a child because they don’t know that word. The thing is that, this is a distinctly American dialect of the Spanish language. Languages are always evolving and mixing. An American based Spanish speaker would struggle to go to Argentina and speak Spanish and vice versa (until they learned the differences). However, that’s not so different in regards to all Spanish speaking countries. They all have differences. And like I said, that is the history of languages. Modern English is a hodgepodge of Anglo Saxon, French, old English, Latin, and yes now Spanish too. For me personally, I will be (and already am) picking up on the Spanglish with great ease. However, I have dreams of taking my Spanish elsewhere and for that, I am thinking critically and learning more common Spanish words. How are you now? I do love your passion for language.

  14. Limpiar and mapear are not the same thing. First one is to clean, second one is to mop. I am 45 years old and in Puerto Rico I have never heard another word for mopping a floor than mapear, it’s been used for ever, even my great grandmother used it when I was little. I see in other countries they use trapear, but I have never heard that word. In Puerto Rico a trapo is a rag not a mop. So this word might be regional, but mapear is definitely not a new word and I will keep using it.

  15. I learned Spanish in Argentina as well, and even though there’s plenty of Spanglish there, people constantly think I am from Spain because I don’t use as much.

    “Chequear” – (even though from French,Arabic) is greatly used here (Never checar, but many times fijarse or revisar).
    “Chance” – (Also from French) is used as well.
    “Living” – Is living room (honestly heard it a lot more than “sala”).
    “Panqueque” – I would guess it’s accepted by the RAE, really means “crepe” in Arg.
    “Esnob” – Snob
    “Chatear” – used quite a bit among internet users.
    “Cidi” – CD
    “DVD” – A DVD player and DVD if I can remember is just “disco”.
    “Flash” – Hardly ever “destello” which would be more original
    “Flashear” – Actually means to hallucinate or be crazy
    “Birra” – Actually the Italian version of German “Bier”
    “Bro” – Dale, bro!
    “Breadwhatwhat” – Panqueque
    Computer and business terms like “software” “Marketing”, which I’m pretty sure is used in most Latin-American countries.
    And basically anything you can think of from the internet and videogames “Eskere” from “Let’s get it”.

  16. I learned Spanish fluently, and I’ve traveled throughout Latin America from Mexico City to Puerto Rico to southern Patagonia and most everywhere in-between–and I have never heard any Spanish speaker say “troca.” My Cuban friends and my Peru-born wife laughed out loud at that one! Very much a Tex-Mex Spanglish word.

  17. https://www.rae.es/dpd/chequear
    ¡Chequee otra vez!
    Ademas, castellano en Argentina es un dialecto, realmente. Differences between dialects of Spanish are numerous; about 9,000 Rioplatense words are not used or, in many cases, even understood elsewhere. These include many terms from the basic vocabulary, such as words for garments, foodstuffs, etc., as well as local slang and colloquialisms.

    1. Actually, the vocabulary is also used in most of Uruguay as well. It’s not a “dialect.” It’s just Spanish. The use of “vos” is also found in parts of Central America.

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