Spanish Grammar Tip

Los falsos amigos – Spanish False Friends

In linguistics, cognates are those words that share the same etymological origin in more than one language. This means that a specific term can derive from the same root in two or more languages and therefore present similar spelling and meaning. For this reason, it may happen that if we do not know the exact word in Spanish and we try to guess using the one that you would say in English, the trick may actually work.

For instance, salary in English is salario in Spanish and extraordinary in English is extraordinario in Spanish. However, for every law… there is a loophole! In fact, the term falsos amigos (false friends) indicates those words that, in different languages, are written in a similar way but have dissimilar meanings, at times regrettably so.

Below there is a list of false cognates in Spanish and English for you to avoid reckless misunderstandings and sound like a professional in Spanish.

False friends


Spanish False Friend

Let’s look at some examples:

El conductor de autobús transporta los pasajeros de un lado a otro. → The bus driver takes passengers from a place to another.

Por la mañaña como pan y mermelada pero sin mantequilla. → In the morning I have bread and jam but without butter.

Mi profesor de español se va de vacaciones a Italia. → My Spanish teacher is going on holidays to Italy.

Mi madre lleva lentillas desde que era muy joven. → My mum has been wearing lenses since she was very young.


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