Which of the following is acceptable?

  1. Mi español ha empeorado (mucho).

  2. Mi español se ha empeorado (mucho).

  3. Mi español ha malogrado (mucho).

  4. Mi español se ha malogrado (mucho).

I have been saying 4 a lot but have woken up to the fact that it doesn't mean what I thought it meant, i.e., it suggests my Spanish hasn't attained its natural state of development. Or perhaps not that either - correct me if I'm wrong. I haven't used Spanish in over 15 years. (On the upside, using it the way I have demonstrates perfectly how bad my Spanish has become!)

Which of the above sentences would you recommend using? (No. 2 seems right to me, but then so did No. 4!) Are there any other ways you would express this idea?

  • Forget malograr here.
    – Lambie
    Nov 26, 2021 at 22:55
  • The Peruvian say 'malograr'.
    – cocteau
    Nov 26, 2021 at 23:32

2 Answers 2


I guess it depends on the regions you focus on.

  • (1) (2) empeorado vs (3) (4) malogrado.
  • "deteriorado" vs "oxidado"

'Se ha' vs 'ha', 'se' refers to the subject of the action and can be omitted.

  • (3) 'Mi español ha malogrado' sounds to me ungrammatical.
  • (4) 'Mi español se ha malogrado' sounds to me grammatical, but in a foreign language.
  • (1)(2) Mi español (se) ha empeorado (over the years, influenced by) Both sound right to me.

In that context, if you were saying that you haven't used Spanish in over 15 years, emphasizing the lack of practice, you might say:

  • Mi español ha empeorado mucho con el tiempo.
  • He ido perdiendo el idioma.
  • Estoy muy falto de práctica.
  • Me falta entrenar más mi español.
  • Me hace falta practicarlo más (mi español)
  • Mi español se ha ido desgastando/deteriorando con el paso del tiempo.
  • Mi español está oxidado.
  • Por falta de práctica, he perdido fluidez.
  • Mi español se echó a perder con el tiempo.
  • Mi español ha sido permeando por x idioma.
  • Mi español ha sido influenciado malamente por x idioma.
  • Mi español no progresa, porque nadie en mi entorno lo habla.

If you were saying that it hadn't attained its natural state of development, you might say:

  • Mi español involucionó.
  • Es tanto el tiempo en que no lo he usado que parece haberse estancado o no suena natural.
  • Suena a cualquier cosa menos a español.
  • Thanks for this really thorough response. All of these make sense to me and yet I wouldn't have been able to produce them off the top of my head. It's disappointing to realise how bad I've become (I was probably never as good as I thought). Your remark that "se" can be omitted is interesting; I'd have thought that it needed to be there because empeorar is a transitive verb. Is the omission just a feature of colloquial/everyday speech and less tolerated in formal registers, or is it the case, like @ÁngelJoséRiesgo says below, that "se" is used only with certain referents? Nov 26, 2021 at 8:26
  • @JohnSmith8891 'Malograrse' pronominal verb is conjugated with a unstressed pronoun that matches the subject, so 'se' is necessary, but 'Echarse a perder' is what I would say. In the case of 'Empeorar' ​What makes it worse? 'Se ha empeorado/se empeoró', referring to a person, not a thing, doesn't sound quite right to me, however, in some regions it is used, 'ha empeorado' OK, '(se) ha ido empeorando' and 'empeoró' are better for me, but it's a regional thing.
    – cocteau
    Nov 26, 2021 at 20:56
  • Many of those examples are not "My Spanish has gotten worse". You have a number of ideas but some of them are not accurate for the OP's phrase.
    – Lambie
    Nov 26, 2021 at 22:55
  • @Lambie Here is what the user wrote: "Are there any other ways you would express this idea?"
    – cocteau
    Nov 26, 2021 at 23:26
  • Yes, and some of the ones you suggest are not translations of "My Spanish has gotten worse".
    – Lambie
    Nov 27, 2021 at 16:21

Only the first one is correct and idiomatic:

Mi español ha empeorado (mucho)

We always use 'mejorar' and 'empeorar' with languages. The pronominal use, as in your second sentence, is much less common and only acceptable when talking about people's health. For example, 'Espero que (te) mejores', 'Su abuelo (se) ha empeorado'.

The verb 'malograr' has a different meaning and is commonly used with nouns like 'oportunidad' or 'plan' in the sense of spoiling something that was expected to go well. You cannot use it with languages.

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