Speaking Spanish in Chile: 20 Funny Language Mistakes

Here’s a compilation of funny and embarrassing Chilean Spanish language mistakes foreigners have made while speaking Spanish in Chile.


20+ Spanish Language Mistakes in Chile

  1. As a greenie my trainer took me to McDonalds. I read the menu, went up to the counter, and in my gringo Spanish ordered a “hamburgesa y un pie de mansana”. The McDonald’s worker looked at me weird and my comp busted up laughing. “Pie” pronounced in Spanish means foot. I had ordered a hamburger and an apple foot. (Steve, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  2. When approaching a person to ask directions, I meant to start by saying “excuse me” which would be “discúlpeme por favor” but instead I said “escúpeme por favor” which means “please spit on me”. (Ted, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  3. The word “tomar” means “to take”. It also means “to drink”. As I was teaching about the Word of Wisdom, I asked the man I was teaching if I could take his beer from him. It came out sounding like I was asking to drink his beer, after I had just explained that we don’t drink. (Eric, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  4. My training companion in Chile gave me a line to memorize when I went to my first dinner in country. The line was “gracias vieja por esta porqueria” I said the line flawlessly after our meal and was answered with strange looks and then roars of laughter. I soon was given the meaning of that sentence and it actually means “thank you old lady for this pigsty” Good humor for all even though I was a little sheepish. (Spencer, Chile Santiago North Mission)
  5. One time I was telling the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s but instead of saying “swords” (espadas) I said “backs” (espaldas). So I said they kept hitting each other with their backs. It was funny. (Ben, Chile Santiago East Mission)
  6. One missionary was street preaching and said “Cuando José Smith tenía 14 anos” and I had to correct him “años, AÑOS!” because those two words mean very different things. (Alex, Chile Santiago East Mission)
  7. I was teaching about tithing and instead of using the verb pagar which means to pay, I kept using the verb pegar, which means to hit. So I kept saying they needed to hit the tithing, not pay it! (Megan, Chile Santiago East Mission)
  8. I called the golden plates the golden bananas. Haha (Alex, Chile Santiago East Mission)
  9. I told someone their food tasted like garbage. (Colter, Chile Concepcion South Mission)
  10. To ordain is ordenar to milk as in a cow, is ordeñar. Don’t share your testimony like this. Yo sé que el señor ordeño a los doce apóstoles. You will be teased. (Scott, Chile Concepcion South Mission)
  11. There are many language mistakes to make in Spanish, but the one that always comes to mind first is from a visit we made to a member’s house. While we were there, one of the sisters from the ward made us some cake, which is sometimes translated as queque in Spanish. However, queque normally is a slang term for a person’s rear-end, so my companion told me to say, “Hermana, su queque es rico.” In essence, my companion told me to say that the sister was attractive. It was really embarrassing. (Dale, Chile Concepcion South Mission)
  12. Well there is a whole list of those experiences. I just remember our land lady came by and asked us to paint the roof and we responded with yes we will paint your chest because roof is “techo” and chest is “pecho” and she just laughed at us and went on with the conversation. (Aaron, Chile Concepcion South Mission)
  13. Saying we have a body made of flesh and cheese (queso) instead of flesh and bone (hueso). Instead of “we put our hands (manos) on your head and ordain (le ordenamos) you”, someone said we put our monkeys (monos) on your head and milk you. (Jimmy, Chile Concepcion Mission)
  14. I gave a blessing to an elderly sister that was ill (not dying). I said “Que se muerje instead of que se mejore.” The family really got a good laugh at that one as did I then and still do now. I share many experiences with the young men and women of my ward. (Troy, Chile Concepcion Mission)
  15. Just know that if you go foreign and speak another language, your first companion will likely pull pranks on you, and may just get some members in on it. I remember one of my first nights, one of the members (I did not know they were members at the time because my companion told me they were investigators) asked me to go buy some wine and bring it back, and then his wife was telling me all about how she had seen demons. Needless to say, I was confused and a little freaked out. But it was hilarious when they told me it was all a joke. (Trevor, Chile Concepcion Mission)
  16. In my first area, the grandmother we lived with asked me to guess what we were having for lunch. I guessed fish (pescado), but I said pecado, which means sins! The grandmother laughed and laughed! (Connie, Chile Antofagasta Mission)
  17. I called clouds the wrong word in Spanish and my trainer made fun of me the rest of my mission. Great guy. (Matthew, Chile Santiago North Mission)
  18. In Spanish the word for egg (huevo) is very similar to the word for bone (hueso). Once while teaching the Plan of Salvation, I was teaching that God has a body of flesh and bone. But I accidentally said that God has a body of flesh and egg. (Scott, Chile Santiago North Mission)
  19. Asking for a dog in heat rather than a hot dog. (Jacob, Chile Santiago North Mission)
  20. I had a companion from Hawaii who didn’t speak a lick of Spanish beyond the very basic Mission Training Center phrases. He just hadn’t grasped the language yet, but he LOVED to talk. He mentioned to a less active member that we were going to play soccer the next morning on the field at the church. When he said the word “field” he substituted a vowel and ended up actually using a very crude term for the female anatomy. The investigator exploded in laughter and I grimaced for my companion while laughing on the inside. These things happen to most everyone. It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself and not torture yourself too much if you aren’t learning as quickly as you might like. (Scott, Chile Santiago North Mission)
  21. We were encouraged to teach English to our Chilean companions. My first companion had been with a previous ‘gringo” companion who had purposely taught him the animals in English, but all mixed up. Cows were sheep, sheep were cows etc… (Bob, Chile Santiago North Mission)
  22. I told a member once that he was “hot”… meaning of course temperature…but I was new, so you know how that goes. (Karen, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  23. I nearly tripped entering the kitchen at the bishop’s house, and said “Casi me Caigo” after which his wife showed me where the bathroom was. There is a big difference between “Caigo” and what she heard “Cago.” (Paul, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  24. Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh (carne) and eggs (huevos), instead of bone (hueso.) Is your dead home? Esta su murido? Instead of, is your husband home? Esta su marido? (Karen, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  25. A sister missionary was asked to share her testimony her first Sunday. She was embarrassed and wanted to say “I am so embarrassed and it is all the bishop’s fault”…she messed up the word for embarrassed, she thought the word for embarrassed was embarazada…which is actually pregnant. So she really said ” I am so pregnant and it is all the bishop’s fault”. (Kirk, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  26. My trainer had a hard time conjugating poder and would also use the wrong tense of the verb or make up one completely. (BJ, Chile Santiago South Mission)
  27. At one point I confused the word for “sweater” with the word for a young Chilean. When I told my momita and my companion that a sister in the Ward want to make a sweater for me, it came out that a sister in the ward wanted to make a little Chilean with me… embarrassing! (Blaine, Chile Vina del Mar Mission)
  28. Don’t say huevón to anyone. Even though lots of people say it, it is not for you to say. And try to avoid the use of Po (a filler word that means nothing) unless you are trying to be funny. (Jeremy, Chile Vina del Mar Mission)

Helpful videos about Chilean Spanish:

Spanish in Chile: Pronunciation, Slang, etc.

Fun Facts About Chilean Spanish (funny)

Chilean Spanish 101

For more resources about serving in Chile:

For more language mistake compilation posts:

One thought on “Speaking Spanish in Chile: 20 Funny Language Mistakes

  • First day in the field I go to a house where there is a girl about 20 years old. There was also a 20 year old American girl. My comp introduces me and tells the girls this is my first day in Chile. The American girl reaches out and shakes my hand and says hello. I then say holla to the Chilean. She to shakes my hand but didn’t understand my pronunciation of the word “holla”. She looks at me with that “What did you just say” look and sticks her ear towards me. I again say holla. Again she looks at me confused and stickers her ear out further. I know I’m saying the word “holla” correctly. Then I figured it out. She must be mostly deaf. Still holding my hand from the hand shake I pull her closer and yell in her ear “HOLLA!!!!!” She looked at me like I was the stupidest person on earth. My comp hit the ground laughing along with the American girl and I missed out on my first opportunity to kiss a local.

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