ATA lists the explanations of error categories for the certification exam in alphabetical order. Here we have organized it and provided simple explanations with some examples from Spanish, the language we work with at Gaucha Translations.

They are marked SP (spelling), GR (grammar), TR (translation, transferring the message from one language to another), and WR (writing skills).

GRGrammarEstos es mis zapatos. Verb conjugations, for example.
La mapa es muy clara. Mapa is a masculine noun. Oops… genders have to match!
GRVerb tenseQuiero que jugamos al tenis. No! Quiero que juguemos al tenis.
GRWord form/part of speechUsing an adjective instead of an adverb.
Me siento bueno.
Me siento bien.
SPAccentsPapa (potato) is not papá (dad).
SPCapitalizationSpanish text: Spanish caps. English text: English caps.
El libro del buen amor
Note Taking for Consecutive Interpreting
SPPunctuationSpanish punctuation in English? Oops…
En sus palabras, es “una exquisitez”.
The doctor said, “be very careful.”
SPSpellingCareful. Some spelling mistakes can be terminology mistakes: ano (anus) vs año (year).
TRAdditionThat is not in the source text. However, using one or two words to give the audience of a different national background the necessary context is OK.
For example:
In the Argentine newspaper: El presidente Macri dijo…
In English, for the US: Macri, the President of Argentina, said… [added “of Argentina” for clarity]
TRAmbiguityThe translation is more vague than the original text.
I have a german shepherd.
Tengo un perro. [a dog]
TRFaithfulness / MisunderstandingThe translation does not mean the same thing as the original text.
It pursues a different intention.
Prepositions are a frequent flier here. There are many more prepositions in English than in Spanish!
TRFalse cognate / falso amigoA guy, after making a stupid mistake: “Me sentí muy embarazado ”.
[embarazada: pregnant woman. It is not used in the masculine. He meant to say “I was embarrassed.”]
TRIndecisionThe reader isn’t supposed to decide what word to use. That is the translator’s job. So… Era la casa/hogar de mi mamá… Make up your mind!
TRLiteralnessWord for word for word. Google could have done this. Ugh.
TROmissionPart of the message of the source text is not in the translation. Watch out, because some words in Spanish have embedded pronouns, which would be separate words in English!
WRCohesionDoes the text hold together? Consistency in use of terminology, use of connectors…
WRRegisterWe don’t wear blue jeans to a state dinner at the White House, right? The text has to be dressed up for the occasion it is expected to be used for.
WRSyntaxHow is the sentence built? Does it make the meaning clear or not? Even if we could defend the syntax from a theoretical perspective, if the meaning is muddled or the reading is convoluted… let’s write in a way that doesn’t lead people to ask whether we got it right. When in doubt, recast for clarity.
WRTerminologyThis is just not the right word. We drink beer in mugs , not cups !
WRText typeDid you follow the directions? The instructions say who the translation is for and where it will be published. Write a document that will fit in that context. Also, you may have terminology clues in the instructions. Pay attention to them. The instructions might even give terminology tips!
HWIllegibilityI can’t correct what I can’t read. When in doubt, it is wrong.
RIPUnfinishedAnything you didn’t write down is held against you. This applies when you clearly didn’t finish translating the text.

These issues matter for every translation we do after passing the ATA exam. Certified translators should continue to provide certified quality.

Related post: Error points in ATA Certification Exams