The expression is sometimes used as an instance of "pseudo-Spanish" or Mock Spanish. Its usage as a Spanish expression is incorrect; a correct translation would be ningún problema, sin problema or no hay problema. Many equivalents to English words can be found in Spanish by adding an o, such as "insect" (insecto), "pilot" (piloto), or "leopard" (leopardo); however, "problem" belongs to the series of words ending with an a in Spanish that have a similar English counterpart, such as "poet" (poeta), "ceramic" (cerámica) or "rat" (rata). In the case of problema, this is because it has a Greek 'ma' ending, and as such is among the Iberian words ending in 'ma', such as tema, which is in fact masculine.
In the constructed languages of Esperanto and Ido, the word "problem" translates as "problemo". However, the etymology of the expression's use in the English language cannot be traced to either of these languages.
- John M. Lipski (2004). "Is 'Spanglish' the third language of the South?: truth and fantasy about U.S. Spanish" (PDF). p. 15. Retrieved 2009-10-28.
- "Esperanto-English Dictionary". Retrieved 2010-01-12.
- Mann, David (2007). "English-Ido Dictionary : P". Retrieved 2010-01-12.