Getting better at noticing mistakes is one of the best ways of taking your Spanish to the next level.

This challenge has been carefully designed to do just that.

Here is a bare-bones example in English:

Sentence with mistakes: What is you problems?

Reference 1: Is this your bag?

Reference 2: I think I know what the problem is.

As you can see, the reference sentences hint at the mistakes in a way that is neither too obvious nor too obscure. The final answer would be:

What is **your** (from Ref. 1) **problem** (from Ref. 2)?

Now for the real challenge

Find the mistakes in these four sentences (in red) using the reference sentences (in blue).

M1: Terminé el instituto y me pasé el próximo año preparándome para poder asistir el programa en Oxford.

R1: Después de la boda, tu padre y yo nos fuimos a Canarias y nos pasamos las dos semanas siguientes tirados en la playa.
After the wedding, your dad and I went to the Canary (Islands) and we spent the following two weeks lying on the beach.

R2: Es la primera vez que asisto a este tipo de evento.
It’s the first time that I attend this type of event.

M2: Tengo una amiga quien me está ayudando mucho y me ha ocurrido hacerle un regalo.

R3: En nuestro antiguo edificio había un vecino que se pasaba las noches golpeando el techo con una escoba.
In our old building, there was a neighbor who would pass the night banging the ceiling with a broom.

R4: No te imaginas lo que se le ha ocurrido hacer ahora a mi hijo.
You won’t imagine what my son has (decided / occurred to him) to do now.

M3: Mi primer viaje fue en el 2008, y en cuanto salí del aeropuerto me di cuenta que en ese país hablaron muy raro.

R5: ¿Cuándo te vas a dar cuenta de que estamos de tu lado?
When are you going to realize that we’re on your side?

R6: Durante esos años las cosas no iban bien.
During those years things weren’t going well.

M4: Yo tenía muchas ganas para cambiar de trabajo, pero los primeros meses en mi nuevo puesto me pasé muy mal.

R7: Aquella vez lo hice por ti, pero no tengo ganas de repetir.
That time I did it for you, but I don’t feel like (doing it again / repeating).

R8: La primera vez que vine me encantó, pero esta vez no lo estoy pasando tan bien.
The first time I came, I loved it; but this time, I’m not having that much fun.

To really squeeze the learning out of this exercise, do it in two steps:

  • In the first step, go with your gut and correct whatever you think is wrong without looking at the reference sentences.
  • In the second step, double-check your gut to make sure that each mistake you found corresponds to one of the reference sentences. If you have more mistakes than reference sentences, or more reference sentences than mistakes, you’re still missing something.

If you think this exercise is too difficult, focus on the reference sentences. Treat them as scaffold sentences and try to recall them from memory. Once you’ve internalized them, it will be much easier to spot the mistakes.

You can email me your attempt (or if you like public accountability, post it in the comments), and I’ll reply back with the answer key.

Have fun!