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True Friends Cognates

Here is a list of some common Spanish cognates. These words have the same meaning in English and in Spanish.


False Friend Congnates

There are also, however, many instances where appearances are deceiving and words thatlook alike are quite different in meaning (“false cognates”). The following list includes some of the most common false cognates, also known as “false friends:”

1. acción
In addition to meaning “action” in Spanish, it is also used in business
to mean “share,” “stock.” Las acciones de la compañía = “the
company’s stock” (or “shares”).

2. asistir
In Spanish, means “to attend,” not “toassist,” and requires the
preposition a before a noun. e.g. Casi nunca asiste a sus clases =
“He almost never attends class”. “To assist,” with the meaning in
English of “to help,” is ayudar.

3. colegio
General term for “school,” or often, “high school”. Does not mean
“college,” which in Spanish is la universidad.

4. conferencia
This may mean “conference” as we know it in English, with themeaning of a “convention;” it has another, often-used meaning in
Spanish, which in English would be a “lecture” by a professor or a
public speaker.

5. decepción
Means “disappointment” and sometimes “a feeling of having been
deceived;” “deception” in Spanish, however, is usually translated as

6. desgracia
Means “misfortune,” not necessarily “disgrace.” ¡Qué desgracia! =What a misfortune! desgraciadamente: “unfortunately.” A “disgrace”
= una deshonra.

7. disgusto
Means “unpleasantness,” “annoyance” as opposed to “disgust,”
which is translated into Spanish as asco. Me da asco = “It disgusts
me.” e.g. Tuve un disgusto con mi cuñado. = “I had an unpleasant
incident with my brother-in-law.”

Does not mean “embarrassed,” which in Spanish isavergonzado/a,
desconcertado/a, or turbado/a. Está embarazada is one way of
saying “She’s pregnant” in Spanish.

9. éxito
Means “success.” e.g. Su nueva comedia tuvo un gran éxito. = “His
new play was a great success.” Not to be confused with an “exit”,
which in Spanish is salida.

10. fastidioso
“Annoying,” “bothersome.” Fastidiar is a commonly used verb; e.g.
No me fastidies. = “Don’tbother (annoy) me.” Likewise, the noun is
(un/el) fastidio. Es un fastidio. = “It’s a bother (nuisance,
inconvenience).” It is difficult to find an equivalent for “fastidious” in
Spanish. Several possibilities are melindroso, quisquilloso, exigente,
difícil de complacer.

11. firma
“Signature.” A “business firm” is compañía or casa (comercial).

12. grosería
The adjective grosero means “rude”or “course” and a grosería is
“rudeness” or “coarseness.” Not to be confused as a translation of
the English word “grocery,” which is known by a various terms
depending on the country/region of the Hispanic world where it is
used. Usually una tienda de ultramarinos in Spain, it is una tienda
de abarrotes in Mexico; una bodega in Cuba and Venezuela; un
almacén in Argentine, Uruguay andChile; un colmado in Puerto Rico.

13. idioma
In English, translates as “language”. What we call an
“idiom” in English, on the other hand, is modismo in Spanish; e.g.
Hay muchos modismos en cada idioma. = “There are many idioms
in every language.”

14. introducir
Means “introduce” in the sense of “to bring up a topic in conversation”
(= introducir un tema) or “to stick in,” “to put into,” “toinsert,” all
physical actions. “To introduce a person” in Spanish is presentar.

15. largo
Means “long” in English. “Large” is instead grande.

16. lectura
Means “reading,” in English, not “lecture.” The word for “lecture” in
Spanish, as mentioned above, is conferencia.

17. librería
= “bookstore.” “Library” is instead la biblioteca.

18. molestar
May mean “to molest” but more...
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