Spanish False Cognates

A False Cognate, also known as a False Friend, is a Spanish word that looks like an English word, but has a different meaning.

If the Spanish word is spelled somewhat differently than the English word, this can help you realize that this is truly a foreign word, and probably not related to the English word it looks something like.

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ENGLISH -- SPANISH

clothing -- ropa

bus stop -- parada

stove -- horno

ready -- listo/a

street -- calle

fat (n) -- grasa

battery -- pila

size -- talla

duck -- pato

octopus -- pulpo

hurts -- duele

drop (n) -- gota

chair -- silla

chicken -- pollo

money -- dinero

watermelon -- sandia

clean -- limpio

trail -- sendero

food -- comida

warm (v) -- calentar

month -- mes

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Some Spanish False Cognates look exactly like an English word, but actually mean another English word that is spelled somewhat like the Spanish word.

ENGLISH -- SPANISH -- [SAY SPANISH]

bread -- pan -- [pahn]

potato -- papa -- [‘papa’]

sea -- mar -- [‘’mar’]

It can be helpful if the Spanish False Cognate has a different pronunciation than the English word it is spelled like -- because that makes it sound different than the English word it is spelled like, and helps make it clear that it is actually a foreign word.

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SPANISH WORDS THAT LOOK LIKE TWO ENGLISH WORDS

Some Spanish words look like two English words, one which has a similar meaning, and the other which means something different.

Spanish words that look like two English words can be either helpful or misleading. For example:

los DEPORTES looks most like the English word ‘DEPORT’, which is not what it means.

los DEPORTES looks less like the English word ‘SPORTS’, which is what it means.

So when seeing this Spanish word, the natural first reaction of an English-speaker who does not know Spanish is to mistakenly think it is related to ‘DEPORT’ in English.

With Spanish words that are ambiguous in this way, the resemblance to English can work against you -- or help you understand and remember the Spanish word more easily (as is true of other Spanish words that resemble English words).

So when you see any Spanish word that looks like two English words, it will help if you associate it with the correct English word.

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Link to Spanish Words that Look Like Two English Words:

Spanish Words that Look Like Two English Words.


Return to Spanish Words Spelled Like English.



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