Although the title might sounds subjective, let me prove firstly that it isn't so: If the title would be

Question. Which common grammar mistakes do Russian native speakers studying German as a foreign language make?

there is an objective (perhaps not complete, but statistically speaking right)

Answer. They tend to omit or forget the article, to mix determinate with indeterminated articles (and the beginners forget the verb sein as well and only juxtapose).

I guess the same applies for another Slavic languages, but since I don't speak other than Russian, I won't say anything about them. q.e.d

Back to the question. It refers to two aspects

  1. Phonetics. Beyond the famous Ich komme aus Espanien instead of Spanien, which other phonetic mistakes have you detected from Spanish-speaking people. It could help people to lose their accent (btw. Ich komme nicht aus Spanien)

  2. Grammar. Grammar structures particularly difficult to Hispanics.

  • Ich verstehe zwar deine Beweisführung nicht, aber ich denke, die ist auch nicht notwendig. Die Frage ist eher, wo gehört die Frage hin. Als Alternative fällt mir nur Linguistics stackexchange ein, bin mir aber auch nicht sicher, ob es dort richtig aufgehoben ist. Aber ich denke, dort erhältst du eine bessere Antwort als hier.
    – Em1
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 7:40
  • Tja, es ist kein eichter Beweis - der q.e.d. am Ende ist teilweise ein Witz. Meine Aussage ist es aber nicht - Russisch Muttersprachler haben sehr häufig Probleme damit.
    – c.p.
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 9:37
  • 1
    zu 1.) deutsches R aussprechen lernen hilft schon mal viel
    – äüö
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 11:31
  • 1
    Common phonetics problems are always: German has closed vowels, not open. And speak long vowels to sound German. Ask a phonetician how to create German phonemes, their position in the mouth is different from language to language. That's what makes the acccent.
    – äüö
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 7:38

4 Answers 4


Here are some ones from my own experience:

  1. The word order is at times very confusing. For example, in Spanish, we might say, "yo no estoy haciendo eso", while in German one would say "Ich mache das nicht" (the negation goes after the verb). Also, in Spanish the omitted subject is very common (e.g. "Pasó como te dije"), whereas it is less often used in German. Not to mention the whole Nebensatz issue with either the verb or the separated prefix at the end of a word.

  2. Dative and accusative objects are intertwined in Spanish, which makes choosing the appropriate preposition, declension or pronoun very hard. Genitive is also extremely rare/nonexistent in Spanish.

  3. There are phrases in Spanish that have equivalent words in German, and viceversa.

  4. Some things in Spanish have reflexive verbs, whereas in German they are actions, and vice versa. In addition, helping verbs in Spanish change significantly relative to the ones in German.

  5. There is no "continuing present" in German.

  6. Wo-compounds and their strange uses throughout the entirety of the conversation.

  7. There are a lot of verbs in German with fixed prepositions, a lot of which don't make intuitive sense to me (a Spanish speaker). Example: Ich warte auf ... (Overliterally, "Yo espero sobre...").

The biggest one for me, though, is:

  1. The Prepositions. There is simply no correspondence between the connotations of a particular preposition in Spanish and the one in German which holds the wanted meaning. For example, I originally thought (overliterally) "zum Geschmack" to say "al gusto", whereas the phrase is "nach Geschmack". Turns out that "nach" has the connotation of "según" as well. And what about zu? It means "demasiado", "apagado", "cerrado", "a", "adonde", all depending on context; it's even a separative prefix at times. Simply put, this is the hardest challenge I have to face with every time I speak German.
  • I'll accept this answer because it's true. But I have to comment that you didn't address phonetics. I also notice that none of the points is proper of Spanish. For instance 1 holds also for Italian, Polish, ...; 2 also for other Roman languages (e.g. French); ...; 8 seems to hold when one compares German with any European language. But to be fair, the question is also quite broad and would be closed with the new standards of this site.
    – c.p.
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 20:49
  • The question is about problems of native Spanish speakers when learning German, not "unique differences between Spanish and German which are troublesome to native Spanish speakers". Of course, their problems and those with other languages can overlap (whatever rule is there for non-overlapping of learning problems between native speakers of different languages?). Plus, read the first sentence: these were some problems from my own experience. Commented Apr 29, 2016 at 14:54

Another difference is that "b" and "w" is very close in Spanish. So words such as "Badewanne" (bath tube) are often pronounced similiar to "Wadebanne".


As a native Spanish speaker, I would say that the most common mistakes are:

  • Phonetic: As there are no sounds like "ä", "ö" or "ü" in Spanish, Spanish speakers tend to pronounce them as "e", "o" and "u" respectively. There is also the difference between "sch", "ch", "tsch" and "s" at the beginning of some words which can cause some difficulties.
  • Grammar: In Spanish there are only two grammatical genders, so it is more difficult for us to learn the gender of nouns in German. We also have no declensions, so it is more difficult for us to adapt to those.

I hope this answers your question.

  • 2
    I have learned German as a foreign language having a native language with three genders as well. Believe me, it is not easier to learn the correct gender of words in a foreign language even if your native language has the same number or even more genders than the language you are trying to learn :)
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Aug 16, 2013 at 17:19

I don't know about Spanish, but I know many Italian people who speak German. Since Spanish and Italian are both Roman languages, the following problems mostly apply to Spanish too.

One problem they face is that some nouns have different genders, for example

la luna (fem.) → der Mond (masc.)
il sole (masc.) → die Sonne (fem.)

Another difficult area are the German cases. It's not easy to adopt a system that your own language misses. I often hear sentences like this one:

Ich habe das Geld die Verkäuferin gegeben. (wrong)

In Italian there's a prepositional phrase instead:

Ho dato i soldi alla commessa.

Also, pronunciation is difficult for Italians, because some German sounds and consonant combinations are not present in their native language: ch, ü, ...mpf... etc.

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