Verbs and articles: Each verb tense in Spanish has six different verb tense, depending on the subject. However, verbs in English are changed by suffixes, depending on the tense. So, when translating verbs, each verb conjugation has six different possibilities because of I, you, he/she/it, we, they.
This leads on to the use, or lack of, of articles. In Spanish, there is little need to use “it”, “they”, “I”, etc., as the verb tense changes with the subject. It is therefore obvious who is being referred to in a sentence. In English, removing pronouns does not work, given English verbs are not conjugated in the same way as Spanish verbs.
Subjunctive and Indicative Mood: Verbs can be moods or tenses, and Spanish uses the subjunctive mood a lot to express a feeling or doubt, it shows an attitude towards a verb. The most common mood is the indicative mood, which states facts, and what is real. This is sometimes challenging for English speakers to understand, as English rarely uses the subjunctive mood.
For example, the sentence “Juego con la pelota” (I am playing with the ball), is in the indicative mood. This is stating a true fact.
In the sentence “ojalá que este feliz” (I hope he is happy) is in the subjunctive. The second verb in this case, “este”, is in the subjunctive. This is important because it shows the attitude of the speaker, their feeling towards a verb, and does not show complete certainty.
A popular example of the subjunctive mood in English would be “long live the King”, which isn’t thought of by many as being in the subjunctive, but is expressing a feeling.
Inverted Punctuation- Proper Spanish punctuation includes inverted question marks (¿) and exclamation points “¡”. This aspect of grammar is unique to Spanish, as other romance languages such as French and Portuguese do not invert their punctuation.
The inverted question mark and exclamation point is standard for Spanish, with its use lying in the fact that it is alerting the reader that they will be reading a sentence with a question, or as an exclamation, before they begin to read it. It’s very much like starting a sentence with the word “do”, in English.
Spelling: Unlike English and its neighbouring romance languages of French and Italian, there is a strong correlation between the sound and spelling of a word in Spanish. Spanish words are spelled almost exactly as they are spoken.
Although there aren’t specific rules relating to double letters, in English where there are words with double letters, they only require one for a Spanish translation. It also makes it easier as in Spanish, there are only three sets of double letters- cc, rr and ll. In English, there are a myriad more.
English and Spanish words can look the same: English and Spanish have different roots. Spanish is a romance language like Portuguese and Italian, stemming from Latin. English on the other hand, is a Germanic language, however with some influence from Latin. This is why English and Spanish do actually share many words with Latin bases. However, these definitions have evolved over time, and can be called “false friends”.
For example, “embarazada” sounds much like the English word “embarrassed”. This actually is Spanish for “pregnant”! There are many words like this, which could leave you feeling “embarrassed” in a business meeting, or when providing something for a client. At Global LTS, our bilingual translators are fluent in both English and Spanish, so won’t trip up on these “false friends”.
Many of the subtle differences list above require a true native to pick these up naturally. Global LTS can fulfil this no problem. Global LTS can provide certified, notarised document translation services for Spanish to English or English to Spanish. Please contact us more for information.
Spanish and Portuguese
Spanish and Portuguese have many similarities, but are two very different languages. Much like the similarities between English and German, certain words are recognisable to speakers of both, but a true knowledge of one will not help for accurate translations. This could result in an embarrassing or offensive mistake that would be detrimental during a business meeting.
If you have Spanish or Portuguese translation needs, please do not hesitate to contact Global LTS for further information and a confidential discussion.