10 Spanish phrases Americans need to stop using & abusing

I've already admitted that I'm the gringa of my family, so I would never make fun of somebody for having an accent while making a genuine effort to speak Spanish. Having said that, nothing irks me more than hearing people constantly throw around random Spanish phrases for no apparent reason. You know the ones--the guys who add "amigo" to the end of every sentence or the girls who are always saying "no bueno." I mean, the first time, I can let it go but by the ninth time, it's pretty freaking irritating, right?  

And unfortunately, the media is not exempt from the overuse of these sayings. When I saw a headline this morning that proclaimed that our vice president, Joe Biden, was "en fuego," I figured it was time to take action. So here I present to you, the 10 Spanish phrases Americans need to PLEASE stop using and abusing, for the sake of everyone's (or at least my) sanity.


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  1. No bueno--The only thing that is really "no bueno" is anyone using this incredibly stale saying. You have been to California, we get it.
  2. No se--I've found that for some unknown reason, people like to use this phrase repeatedly to answer questions: "Where are my keys?" "No se." "Did you see them here last night?" "No se." So. Not. Helpful.
  3. Ay caramba--Just don't.
  4. En fuego--You know how you know that this is definitely a cliché? Because no self-respecting Latino would ever use "en fuego" as a description unless something is literally on fire.
  5. Muy caliente--Using this phrase to play on the meaning ("hot" as in temperature or "hot" sexually) is the oldest joke in the book. We get it, moving on.
  6. No problemo--Adding an "o" at the end of an otherwise English phrase does not make this correct. Stop it!
  7. Amigo--Using this among actual friends or acquaintances is one thing but unfortunately, I've found that many Americans use the phrase condescendingly, like "calm down, amigo, I understand you are Hispanic and muy caliente." Again, just don't.
  8. No comprendo--See number 2.
  9. No hablo español/ingles/etc--Unless you are actually trying to convey that you don't speak the language (which is pretty obvious most of the time), what's the point?
  10. Cursing--Good manners and common courtesy keep me from actually writing out the most widely used curses, but for some reason, the first thing most non-Spanish speakers seems to learn are the swear words. Seriously this stopped being cool in the 8th grade! So unless you're in middle school or are 100 percent sure of the meaning of what you're saying and are among friends, don't say them at all.  Otherwise, you could seriously offend other people.

What other Spanish phrases do you think are overused in the public? Tell us in the comments below!

Image via YouTube/Sh*t White Girls Say to Latinas

Topics: latinos in america  latino internet


nonmember avatar
on Jun 22, 2012 at 11:45 AM
The one that annoys me is 'mano a mano' with the connotation that 'mano' would mean man and not hand! 'Let's talk, mano a mano' jajaja.
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on Jun 22, 2012 at 2:12 PM

My Boss is American and he using the spanish phrase "esta buen" for everything!!!  

For example "how are you"...his reply "Esta buen"...which doesn't mean I good; Goodnight...again with the reply.  The only time this phrase should be used...is when you are asking for permission for something.  "Can I stay out late" reply esta buen means it's ok to do.  Drives me nuts...Tere'

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on Jun 22, 2012 at 2:13 PM

  I agree , Other big  mistake that spanish chanels do is when they talk about Insurange and they say Aseguransa. Es seguro médico, Seguro de auto, Compañia de Seguros.


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nonmember avatar
on Jun 22, 2012 at 7:43 PM
My boyfriend does say "no bueno" from time to time. And I do call my friends "friend". In English.
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nonmember avatar
on Jun 23, 2012 at 2:12 PM
HaHaHa... what?? The Mexicans add the O on the end of english words that don't exist in Spanish! You want to take a ride around the blocko? Who started what?
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nonmember avatar
on Jun 24, 2012 at 4:59 AM
So you're pissed that we add and "o" to "no problem" to "make it sound Spanish", (whereas it's really done to be cutesy and alliterative,) but at the same time you don't want us to keep appropriating "Spanish" words and turns of phrase? I'll tell you what- I'll stop using "no problemo" when it shows us in an actual, reliable, published Spanish language guide. In the meantime, Hispanics with limited English comprehension can stop calling me "guy" and "buddy" as a form of address; if you need to use it as a cold-opening greeting, I am quite certainly neither to you, and it comes across as either ignorant and/or arrogant presumption.
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on Jun 24, 2012 at 6:38 PM
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