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English - Spanish certified translation, and some of the problems that can arise.

The potential problems involved in the process of translation are innumerable, regardless of the source and target language.


Spanish is a markedly different language from English, which makes translation from English into Spanish particularly difficult. Spanish is a Romance language, which along with the others in this category are derived from the Latin spoken in the Roman empire. It is closely linked to Portuguese and Italian, but not to English. The great differences in the two languages make Spanish-English translation a challenging job, so the translator must be extremely careful when translating a document from Spanish to English or vice versa. In the case of a certified translation, even more care must be taken.

Some of the challenges or obstacles faced by the certified translator, among others, are:


ADJECTIVES: In Spanish, an adjective is often placed after the noun and not before it as it is in English. When doing any type of English-Spanish translation, it is very important to remember this rule. Confusingly however, there are exceptions to this rule in both languages.

GENDER: Spanish nouns have a gender. That is, in the Spanish language, each noun is considered masculine or feminine, and related adjectives and other words must often change to match this noun.

NEGATION: In English, negation is much more complicated than it is in Spanish, and presents many challenges for the beginner leaner. A professional or certified translator should have no problems however! The variety of prefixes, such as “non” “un” “dis” “in” are often necessary to correctly negate a word. When building phrases, we must also be careful to avoid using double negatives. In Spanish, it is much simpler than this. In a sentence, usually putting a “no” before the verb will negate it, and there are fewer prefixes to confuse the learner. When making sentences in Spanish, double negatives are supposed to be used, rather than avoided. English requires us to mix negative and affirmative words, which can create confusion. This is all very relevant when learning a foreign language, but certified translations should be carried out by a native speaker of the target language. This means that these subtleties are not really a problem.

THE POSSESSIVE FORM: Possessive nouns do not exist in Spanish. In English, all you have to do is put an apostrophe + “s” at the end of a noun and you’re ready to go; you've made it possessive.

IN SPANISH, THE SUBJECT OF A SENTENCE DOES NOT USUALLY HAVE TO BE MENTIONED: By using the appropriate conjugation in Spanish, you already know the time and subject without explicitly indicating it.

IN SPANISH, THE WORD “TENER”/”TO HAVE” IS USED TO EXPRESS FEELINGS, AGE, ETC.: In English, if a person said, “I have 20 years,” we might think it meant a prison sentence. However, quite innocently, when translated directly into Spanish, this would be the usual way for a person to express their age.

In Spanish, there are several cases in which the verb “tener” is used to maintain phrases that are expressed with “to be” in English. "Tener" is often used when talking about something that is attributed to us, or something that we are experiencing.

PREPOSITIONS: There are fewer prepositions in Spanish than in English. In English, dozens of prepositions are used to determine the exact location in time and space of an object. Prepositions definitely play a much smaller role in Spanish, with fewer words. For many cases where we use “in”, “on” and “at” in English, we only use the word “en” in Spanish.

USE OF CAPITALS AND PUNCTUATION: Capital letters and punctuation are slightly different in Spanish. Although much of the punctuation remains the same for these two languages, there are some small differences to keep in mind. Sometimes unnecessary capital letters are used in Spanish. In English, there is only punctuation at the end of a sentence, while in Spanish, when a question is asked or emotion is expressed, the question mark is placed both at the beginning and at the end of the sentence (¿ -?). The same goes for exclamation marks. (¡-!).

ORTHOGRAPHY: The English language present many difficulties when it comes to spelling. It is often irregular, difficult and not very intuitive. In Spanish, spelling a word is usually so simple that you can almost always achieve it just by pronouncing it. A word is spelled just as it sounds.


While in English, spoken vowels may sound long, short, or even silent - creating more than a dozen different vowel sounds - in Spanish, there are only five. Basically, each vowel in the Spanish language has only one sound.

Another interesting point is this: should the translated text erase all traces of the original language, or, when it is read, should it show that it is a translation?

Faced with this question, it should be said that the text is an organic whole, and the translator's duty is to encompass it in order to transmit it in its entirety. The translator must try to capture the voice that speaks to her from the text, in order to transmit the rhythm, the modulations, the style and the tone. By this I do not mean that one should translate literally, but that the translator should know how to use the different translation techniques well and for this, they must understand the original context very well. Without context, a translation is nothing. This is even more true when it comes to the accuracy required for certified translations.

It is very important that the text be homogeneous as well as precise. We must always find the exact term, i.e. its equivalent at the time we translate from one language to another, and keep it throughout the body of the document we are translating.

The translator must also take care of the use of the passive voice, which is very common in English. It should be used not abused. Good use should also be made of the gerund, which is also very typical in English.


Another element the language-learner and the translator must take care of is the “false friend”. This is a particularly frequent mistake with inexperienced translators. False cognates or false friends are words that, due to similarities in appearance and meaning, seem to be related to another word in a different language, but do not actually share the same etymological origin.

So, we have seen briefly that translating is not only a matter of mastering one language and another, but that more skills are required in order not to make mistakes. A translator must be bilingual, yes, but that does not mean that being bilingual makes a person a translator. To avoid time constraints, always seek the services of a professional translator or translation agency. For certified translations, all this matters even more, and you know where to come! As ever, thanks for reading.

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