The bus broke in half

One day, a friend from the US who lived in Ecuador for a few months told me:

“Andrés, hoy fue un día extraño”.
(Andrés, today was a strange day.)

After hearing that phrase I was ready to hear something interesting, so I just asked her what happened and let her keep talking.

“Primero, el bus que tomé para ir a Quito se rompió”.
(First, the bus that I took to go to Quito broke in half.)

My answer:


And she again:

“Sí, el bus se rompió”.
(Yes, the bus broke in half.)

Since she told me it was a strange day, I assumed something really weird had happened and the bus actually broke in half, but then I remembered something:

The verb “break” sometimes is tricky.

You see, if you say “el bus se rompió,” the words that my friend used, it means “the bus broke in half”. Something weird but not impossible to happen.


What she really meant to say was “the bus broke down”, which in Spanish is “el bus se dañó.”

A small but important difference.

When I explained the difference to her, she just laughed and said that she had already told the same story to more people, and no one had corrected her.

I wonder if they thought that it actually happened.

She felt a bit embarrassed, but she also kept laughing about it. The best thing about this, after that day she never made that mistake again.

It looks like it was a good confusion after all.

Ans this brings us to the message I have for you today:

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

I’ll say that again, just in case:

Don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

Many language learners, especially (but not exclusively) beginners, are afraid to talk to a native speaker.


They don’t want to make a mistake. They don’t want to feel embarrassed. And they don’t want to feel stupid.

But if you feel that way, well… I have bad news for you:

Making mistakes and feeling embarrassed is part of the learning process. There is no way to avoid that.

The good news is, people don’t really care if you don’t speak perfect Spanish. Even native speakers make mistakes from time to time, why would we judge a person who is learning our language?

So if you have the opportunity to speak Spanish with somebody else, take it.

You won’t regret it.

And if you make a funny mistake, just laugh. That’s the best way to cure that embarrassment.

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P.S. I made tons of mistakes when I was actively learning English, and I still make mistakes now. My favorite one: I used to confuse the pronunciation of “sheet” and “shit”. Can you imagine how funny some conversations were?




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