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How to Overcome These 5 Challenges of English to Spanish Translation

overcome challenges of spanish translation

Last updated on November 30th, 2017 at 01:35 pm

Access to the Spanish-speaking segment of a marketplace creates a wealth of opportunity to increase profits and brand growth.

There are several reasons why one would target this segment:

  • There are over 427 million Spanish speakers around the World
  • It’s the 3rd most used language on the Internet
  • The Latin American market continues to grow year-after-year

Localization of websites and marketing material through Spanish translation services creates an entry point to the global marketplace. It creates an opportunity to provide goods and services in areas which competition has yet taken hold.

72% of consumers spend most of their time online (if not all) on websites in their own language. The same percentage also acknowledged being more likely to buy a product if the information is available in their own language, according to a report by Common Sense Advisory.

This article will cover two aspects of Spanish translation services:

  • The challenges of offering translation
  • The benefits the translation brings to business

Localization provides a cost-effective way to expand on a small budget and time frame to other markets. Let’s take a look!

Five Challenges Found in Spanish Translation Services

Most businesses rely on automated services to provide translation for their website and marketing materials. Google Translate does a fantastic job for basic needs in research but it’s not suitable for business.

Translation errors become clear with technical terms. Many English words emerging through developing industries have yet to become the norm in the Spanish language. 

Here are five challenges businesses face with Spanish translation services:


Spanish Language adds genders to everyday items, and a formal and informal way to the mix. Some items are masculine other are feminine. Example: The table, The pencil- no gender in English. But in Spanish, they are La Mesa (feminine) El lápiz (masculine) How about water? It is masculine: el agua Why?

Formality matters in business because it shows respect and understanding. So depending on the occasion or intended usage of the translated material, formal or informal voice needs to be selected before starting a translation.

This may not seem like a big deal but mistranslations can come across as insulting to speakers of other languages. It creates an immediate distaste and distance from the brand.

Types & Nuances

There are different types of Spanish — the same as if to compared usage of different words through the United States and other English-speaking countries.

Differences in the formality, grammar, slang, and everyday objects are plentiful. This is true when comparing Spain to other Latin American countries.

It takes a keen ear to tell the differences.

It is very difficult for an automated translation to account for those differences. Translations need to be tailored to the nuances of the regions to maximize clarity and exposure.


Ad buys and marketing materials have limited space. It’s essential to make a punchy offer and call-to-action. Every line and inch of graphic matters especially if the business is charged in these factors.

The Spanish language when translated takes a greater amount of words compared to English, approximate 20% more. This could create an overflow and make it difficult to apply in ads and marketing materials.

A professional will have the knowledge of how to shorten these translated sentences without losing the message.


The Spanish language is faster than English when spoken. This could become problematic when the translation is used within a video or audio materials for a business. 

The subject-verb-subject nature of Spanish and the dropping of “it”, “he”, and “I” can trip up scripts used in marketing endeavors. Professional services provide the correct translation but also create a flow (see transcreation) that matches the excitement that’s present in the English version of the piece.

False Friends

These are the deceptive words that look and sound alike in English and Spanish.

Automated translation doesn’t always understand the context. The amateur translation may misinterpret the ‘false friends’. This creates a blunder in the business material.

Imagine spending thousands on a print campaign to find out the sentence makes no sense due to a small translation error. It’s all due to these similar sounding but vastly different words.

5.85% of the World speaks Spanish. That’s over 420+ million individuals that a business can gain access to through translation.

The challenges are there yet achievable with the right professionals and native speakers. The reliance on machine learning and automated services for translations have no place for big businesses competing on a global scale.

Which brings us to the next part….

English to Spanish: The Benefits to Business

We’ve already covered a few examples of why a business would want to translate their English materials to Spanish. The global reach is the biggest benefit of them all. Let’s take a peek further to see what else is possible.

  • Conversion – A Localization Industry Standards Association’s report stated $1 spent on localization yields a $25 return. Marketing materials and content delivered in the native language conveys the message which creates an obvious opportunity to convert leads into buyers.
  • Confidence – Offering materials in another language gives the brand a professional appearance. It creates confidence in the marketplace because the business provides options for many. Not just the English segment.
  • Rankings – Google wants to unify the Web and deliver the best results to their users. A translated website will gain higher ranking and traction within the Spanish-speaking segment if it’s available. Extra exposure means more chances to generating a sale, referral, or receiving feedback.
  • Edge – A business offering their goods and services with native language support will do better than one that does not. Plain and simple. It gives an edge on the market and blows the competition out of the water.

We have reached the age of globalization.

The Internet has brought the world together and has given the business sector an optimistic and exciting opportunity to reach new markets. We, consumers, prefer a business with providers offering goods and services in our native language.

Spanish translation services are the bridge between two worlds. Every business should commit to expanding their reach through the use of these services.

Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela and has a BS in computer engineering. As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. 20 Years of experience in marketing Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.