Today’s topic will be Pitfall Spanish Verbs That Confuse English Speakers. I saw (heard) something very funny this weekend here in Medellín, Colombia. A friend from the States who lives here in Colombia asked me to go to the home of the parents of his “novia” (girlfriend/finacée). He didn’t feel comfortable with his Spanish and he wanted me to be there to help him with his Spanish while he made a good first impression when meeting his future “suegros” (in-laws).
If he only knew the mistake that he had made he probably would be very embarrassed right now.
I want to tell you the mistake that he made not only because I found it “gracioso” (funny) but also so that you never make the same mistake in Spanish.
So this is what happened . . . .
As I mentioned, I accompanied my American friend to the home of the parents of his future “esposa” (wife). He didn’t feel comfortable with his Spanish
Since his future “esposa” (wife) is much younger than he is (more than 20 years younger) he felt the need to assure her “padres” (parents) and “abuelos” (grandparents) that he was going to help and support her.
He was doing really well with his Spanish. I was very impressed with his Spanish. And then he made — what I consider — a very funny mistake . . . .
He looked at his future “suegros” (in-laws) and said:
“Voy a soportar a su hija.”
And then he looked towards the “abuelitos” (grandparents) of his new “esposa” (wife) and said:
“Voy a soportar a su nieta.”
Do you see the mistake he made?
He was trying to express that he was going to support and help his new wife.
How To Say To Tolerate In Spanish
But he actually said that he was going to TOLERATE his new wife. The word “soportar” means to tolerate, to stand, or to bear. For example:
No soporto el llanto de los bebés.
I do not tolerate the crying of babies.
(I cannot stand the crying of babies.)
You should have seen the look on his “suegros” and the “abuelitos” of his future “esposa” when he said “voy a soportar a su hija.”
They looked at him as if they wanted to say:
¡Qué gringo tan arrogante!
What an arrogant Gringo!
If he wanted to say that he was going to support and help her, then he should have said:
Voy a apoyar a su hija.
I am going to support your daughter.
Voy a apoyar a su nieta.
I am going to support your grand-daughter.
By the way, besides “to support,” the word “apoyar” also means “to lean, to rest.”
El carpintero apoyó la madera en la pared.
The carpenter rested the wood on the wall.
Note that the word “aguantar” also has the same meaning as “soportar.” Both “aguantar” and “soportar” can mean the following:
a.) (Sostener) – to hold, to sustain
b.) to tolerate, to stand, to bear
La mujer dijo que no podía aguantar estar sola.
The woman sad that she could not bear being alone.
So the lesson that you should have learned here is to never use the Spanish verb “soportar” (to stand, to bear, to tolerate) when you want to express the English verb to support, unless you are talking about “to support” as in to support a load, mass, structure, etc. (i.e. to sustain).