Spanish – English False Cognates

Want to avoid embarrassing yourself?  Scan this list, and remember not to say:   “Yo soy muy embarazada!” ** (see full story at the end of the article.)

Why use this list?   This list is a combination of lists that we have accumulated over the past 7 years, blended with the contents from 5 other websites,  making it a bit more comprehensive than any other list we’ve found.   All of the Spanish versions of words are italicized, and the English versions are in normal print.  We list the Spanish version first (with it’s English complement), followed by the English version (with its complemento español).

Absoluto vs Absolute(ly)   Absoluto is an interesting word.    Alone, it means absolute, utter, complete.   En Absoluto however means: Not at all, by no means, no way.     ~ Absolute = absoluto. Absolutely = absolutamente, completamente, totalmente.

Abstracto vs Abstract     Abstracto is only an adjective as “Picasso enjoyed abstract art”.    ~ Abstract the noun = resumen.

Actual vs Actual     Actual means current or present: El presidente actual vive en Madrid – “The current president lives in Madrid.” Actualmente means currently, at present, or now.    ~ Actual means verdadero or efectivo.    Actually = realmente, en realidad, or en efecto.

Admirar vs Admire      Admirar is a semi-false cognate that can mean “to admire.” But it frequently means “to surprise” or “to astonish.”

Advertencia vs Advertisement     Advertencia is a warning, piece of advice, reminder, or preface.     ~ Advertisement = anuncio.

Affección vs Affection      Affección occasionally means fondness toward somebody or something.   More commonly affección it refers to a disease or some other sort of medical condition. ~ Affection = afecto or cariño.

Agonía vs Agony    Agonía = death throes or dying moments.  ~ Agony refers to terrible physical or mental pain = dolor agudo, angustia.

Alterado vs Altered      Alterado can mean changed or altered as well as angry or upset.    ~  Altered = modificado, cambiado, alterado.

Americano vs American    Americano usually refers to anyone from North or South America.    ~  American = estadounidense (adjective of Estados Unidos – United States)

Aparente vs Apparent     Aparente is a semi-false cognate that can mean “apparent.”   In Spanish aparente carries a strong implication that things aren’t what they appear to be. Thus, aparentemente fue a la tienda does not mean  “he apparently went to the store” but instead: “it appeared like he had gone to the store but he didn’t.”   ~ Apparent = visible, claro, evidente, or ostensible.

Aplicar vs Apply    Aplicar means to apply something, like a theory, paint, or sanctions.    ~  Apply = aplicar when it is a transitive verb. As an intransitive verb, it has many translations: apply for a job – solicitar or presentar;    to apply oneself to = dirigirse a uno;   to apply in the sense of be applicable =  ser aplicable or interesar.

Apología vs Apology   Apología refers to defense or a eulogy.  ~ Apology = una disculpa or excusa.

Aprobar vs Approve     Aprobar means to approve (of), consent to, or endorse, as well as to pass a test or class.   ~ Approve = aprobar.

Arena vs Arena    Arena means sand.     ~  Arena = anfiteatro, redondel, plaza.

Argumento vs Argument     Argumento means argument in the sense of reasoning (as in a courtroom).    ~  Argument in the sense of disagreement = una discusión, pelea, disputa, or polémica.

Asesino vs Assassin     Asesino can refer to an assassin as well as an ordinary non-political murderer or killer.    ~  Asesino is also an adjective:  murderous.    Assassin = asesino.

Asistencia vs Assistance     Asistencia usually means attendance, though it can also mean assistance.  ~ Assistance is most commonly translated by ayuda or auxilio.

Asistir vs Assist     Asistir means to attend.  ~ Assist = ayudar.

Atender vs Attend     Atender can mean to attend in Latin America,   but in Spain it means to pay attention to, to heed, or to care for.   ~ Attend = asistir.

Autor vs Author     Autor can refer to an author or writer as well as the creator of something (e.g., a painting) or the perpetrator of a crime.   ~  Author nearly always indicates a writer = un autor, una autora.

Bachillerato vs Bachelor     Bachillerato is the equivalent of a high school diploma in the US or A-levels in the UK.    ~  Bachelor refers to an unmarried man = un soltero.   ~ A bachelor’s degree =una licenciatura.

Basamento vs Basement      Basamento is the base of a column, sometimes called a plinth.     ~ If you want to visit a basement, go down to el sótano.

Billón vs Billion      Billón is kind of a semi-false cognate.   It indicates a trillion in US, or billion in UK.      ~  Billion,  as spoken by an American = mil millones.     When a Brit says billion, s/he means billón.

Bizarro vs Bizarre     Bizarro has two categories of meaning: 1) valient, gallant, brave, or 2) generous.     ~ Bizarre = extraño or raro (see raro vs rare, below).

Blanco vs Blank      Blanco is a semi-false cognate. It is usually the Spanish word for the color white but can in some instances be translated by blank: una página blanca – a blank sheet of paper.  ~  Blank is an adjective = en blanco, liso, or sin adorno.

Blindar vs Blind     Blindar means to armor-plate or to shield, and its adjective blindado means armor-plated, shielded, or bullet-proof.    ~ Blind = ciego as an adjective, and cegar or deslumbrar as a verb.

Boda vs Body    Boda is a wedding or wedding reception.    ~  A body (as of a person or animal) is most often cuerpo or tronco.

Bufete vs Buffet     Bufete is a desk or a lawyer’s office.   ~  Buffet = una cantina, un buffet libre, or una comida buffet.

Cámara vs Camera      Cámara usually means room or chamber, but also means a camera, a camera or operator. ~ Photographic camera usually refers to a still camera = una cámara, una máquina fotográfica.

Campo vs Camp       Campo means country(side), field, or farm. ~ Camp (n) = un campamento.

Cargo vs Cargo      Cargo refers to a post or position as well as a charge in all senses: hacerse cargo de – to take charge,     sin cargo – free of charge,     retirar los cargos contra – to drop the charges against.      ~ Cargo = cargamento, carga.

Carpeta vs Carpet     Carpeta = folder, file, portfolio, briefcase, or table cloth.   ~   Carpet (n) is una alfombra or una moqueta.

Carrera vs Career      Carrera can refer to any of the following: running, race; a row or line; a beam, girder, or joist; route, ride, journey, course; avenue; career; or university studies.    ~ Career =  vocación, una carrera profesional or una profesión.

Carta vs Cart / Card      Carta refers to a (postal) letter, document, deed, charter, map, or menu.   ~ Cart (n) is un carro, una carreta, un carretón, or una carretilla.    ~ A card is usually una tarjeta.

Chocar vs Choke      Chocar normally means to shock or startle, but can also mean to clink (glasses) or to shake (hands).     ~ Choke = sofocarse or atragantarse.

Cientifico vs Scientific       Cientifico is both noun (profession) and adjective.   Therefore students often use the word scientific to refer to the person: He is a famous scientific.    However, scientist should be used to refer to the person:    He is a famous scientist.

Colegio vs College     Colegio refers to a high school, usually private.  ~ College can be translated by colegio only when it refers to “colleges” as in divisions within a US school.     Otherwise, college = universidad or escuela superior.

Colorado vs Colored      Colorado means red or reddish. ~ Colored = de color.

Complexión vs Complexion      Complexión refers to one’s constitution, make-up, temperament, or physical build.  ~Complexion = la tez, el cutiz, or la piel.

Compromiso vs Compromise    Compromiso is an obligation, commitment, promise, or agreement. ~  Compromise as a noun can be expressed as una transacción, una avenencia, unas concesiones recíprocas, el término medio, or la solución intermedia. ~ Compromise (the verb) = comprometer or transigir.

Conductor vs Conductor     Conductor equals conductor when referring to science: un conductor de electricidad – conductor of electricity.   It can also mean a driver or a TV or radio presenter. ~  Conductor of an orchestra = un(a) director(a), and ~ train conductor = un(a) revisor(a).

Conexión vs Connection      Conexión is a physical or logical connection. ~ Connection (when referring to human/emotional connections) = una relación.

Conferencia vs Conference       Conferencia can mean conference, meeting, lecture, speech, or phone call.   ~  Conference = una conferencia, una reunión, una asamblea, or un congreso.

Constipación vs    Constipation Constipación and Constipado mean to catch a cold, while una constipación (or catarro) is one of the words that means a cold.    ~ Someone who is constipated is estreñido.

Contestar vs Contest      Contestar means to answer or reply. ~ Contest as a verb =  impugnar, atacar, disputar, or contender.

Conveniente vs Convenient      Conveniente means suitable, fitting, proper, useful, or advantageous.    ~ Convenient means cómodo, práctico, útil, or accesible.

Copa vs Cup      Copa = a glass or goblet, an alcoholic drink, a trophy (la Copa del Mundo = World Cup).   ~ Cup = una taza.

Copia vs Copy     Copia is a photopcopy or other duplicate.    ~ Copy can also mean un ejemplar (of a book) or un número (of a magazine).

Coraje vs Courage      Coraje can mean courage as well as anger.  ~ Courage = el coraje, as well as el valor, la valentía, los ánimos, and las fuerzas.

Corresponder vs Correspond      Corresponder means things like to correspond, tally, fit in, match, or belong.     ~ Correspond translates to corresponder only in the sense of agreeing with or matching (e.g., this corresponds with our thoughts).     ~ Correspond  (when referring to a correspondence by mail) = escribirse or estar en correspondencia con.

Cuestión vs Question      Cuestión is a matter/issue/question to be resolved. ~  Question = cuestión when referring to an issue, or una pregunta when asking a question.

Culto vs Cult     Culto can refer to a religious sect or to a religious service. ~ As an adjective, it means cultured or refined. Cult = una secta.

Damnificado vs Damned       Damnificado = victim, from the verb damnificar – to injure, harm, damage.    ~ Damned = condenado or maldito.

Decepción/Decepcionar vs Deception/Deceive      Decepción = disappointment.     Decepcionar = to disappoint.    ~ Deception = un engaño, un fraude.     To deceive = engañar, defraudar.

Defraudar vs Defraud       Defraudar can mean to defraud or cheat as well as to disappoint or let down.    ~ Defraud  = estafar or defraudar.

Delito vs Delight      Delito refers to a crime, offence, or misdeed. Delight = el placer, el deleite, el encanto, or la delicia. ~  To delight = encantar or deleitar.

Departamento vs Department     Departamento means department, section; office; compartment; province; or apartment.    ~ Department = departamento, sección, ministerio.

Desgracia vs Disgrace       Desgracia means misfortune, mishap, accident, setback, or bad luck.   ~ Disgrace = la deshonra or ignominia.

Deshonesto vs Dishonest      Deshonesto means indecent or lewd. It means dishonest only in the sense of untrustworthy, not in the sense of not telling the truth. ~ Dishonest = poco honrado, fraudulento.

Despertar vs Desperate    Despertar means to wake up, both figuratively and literally, and requires a direct object. ~  To say “I’m waking up” in the sense of getting out of bed, you need to use the reflexive form, despertarse. Desperate = desesperado.

Destituido vs Destitute    Destituido means devoid of or lacking or someone who has been removed from office.  ~ Destitute = indigente, desamparado, necesitado, or en la miseria.

Disco vs Disco    Disco is a semi-false cognate. Aside from disco, it has numerous translations: disk, discus, traffic-light, or (audio) record, or the blade in a circular saw. ~  Disco = disco, discoteca, or sala de baile.

Dirrección vs Direction      Dirrección is most commonly as an address, but is occasionally used to describe one of the Cardinal Points (N, E, S, W), or the steering on a car.

Discutir vs Discuss      Discutir is stronger than discuss; more like debate or argue. ~ Discuss = hablar de, tratar de, comentar.

Discusión vs Discussion      Discusión can be a simple discussion, but more commonly it refers to something more intense, like a debate, dispute, or argument. ~  Discussion = dialago.

Disgusto vs Disgust       Disgusto is not as strong as disgust; it means annoyance, displeasure, grief, or trouble. ~ Disgust = repugnancia or aversión.

Echar vs Echo      Echar has numerous meanings, including to throw, to put, to pour, to give, to cut, and to push. ~  Echo = resonar, repetir, or hacer eco.

Editor vs Editor     Editor is an adjective: publishing,  or a noun: publisher or editor. ~ Editor = editor, director, or redactor.

Educación vs Education       Educación has a broader meaning than education. The Spanish word’s best translation is upbringing, which includes both school education as well as what a child learns at home. ~ Education = formación or enseñanza.

Educado vs Educated         Educado means well-mannered, polite, or cultivated, from the verb educar – to raise, bring up, rear. ~ Educated is from the verb to educate = formar or instruir.

Efectivo vs Effective      Efectivo means real or actual. En efectivo means “in cash”.   Efectivos are military forces or (police) officers. ~ Effective = eficaz.

Elevador vs Elevator      Elevador means elevator only in Mexico, though un elevador de granos is a grain elevator anywhere. ~ Elevator = un ascensor.

Embarazada vs Embarrassed     Embarazada means pregnant. It can also be a noun: una embarazada is a pregnant woman, or an expectant mother. ~ Embarrassed =avergonzado, molesto, or incómodo.

Emocionante vs Emotional      Emocionante means exciting, thrilling, or moving. ~ Emotional indicates something that is afectivo, emocional, or emotivo, or someone that is sentimental.

Equivocado vs Equivocal     Equivocado means wrong. Equivocal =equívoco or ambiguo.

Eventual vs Eventual      Eventual means fortuitous, possible, or temporary. ~ Eventual = final, definitivo, consiguiente.

Eventualmente vs Eventually      Eventualmente is temporary or conditional. ~  Eventually could be translated as finalmente.

Excitar vs Excite     Excitar means to excite sexually.  ~ Excite (when talking about something you’re looking forward) to = entusiasmar or provocar.

Éxito vs Exit     Éxito means success: a gran éxito – very successful. ~ Exit = una salida.

Fábrica vs Fabric     Fábrica is a factory, plant, or mill. ~ Fabric = el tejido or la tela.

Factoría vs Factory     Factoría can mean a factory (in some Spanish-speaking countries), but is more commonly a trading post. ~ Factory = una fábrica.

Facultad vs Faculty       Facultad refers to mental faculty, power or ability, or a university department. ~ Faculty in reference to a group of teachers = el profesorado or cuerpo academico

Falta vs Fault      Falta is a lack, want, need, absence, shortage, failure, or shortcoming. ~  A fault (imperfection) is un defecto, un desperfecto, or una imperfección. Fault (blame) = la culpa.

Familiar vs Familiar      Familiar as an adjective means family, familiar, domestic, informal, plain, or colloquial. As a noun familiar refers to a relative or close friend. ~ Familiar is only an adjective: familiar, conocido, común, familiarizado, íntimo.

Fastidioso vs Fastidious     Fastidioso means annoying or boring. It can mean fastidious in Latin America. ~ Fastidious = escrupuloso.

Firma vs Firm      Firma can refer to a firm, but more commonly means a signature. ~ Firm as an adjective means firme, sólido, duro, seguro. ~ As a noun, Firm = una firma or una empresa.

Fiscal vs Fiscal       Fiscal means fiscal or tax-related as an adjective. As a noun, however, fiscal refers to a district attorney or public prosecutor. ~ Fiscal = fiscal.

Formal vs Formal      Formal means reliable, dependable, responsible, or serious. ~ Formal = solemne, correcto, oficial, or, when referring to clothing, de etiqueta.

Fracaso vs Fracas     Fracaso is a failure or disaster. ~ Fracas = una gresca or una reyerta.

Fútbol vs Football       Fútbol refers to soccer (in American English). ~ Football = el fútbol americano.

Fútil vs Futile        Fútil means trivial. ~ Futile = inútil, vano, or infructuoso.

Ganga vs Gang or      Gangia / Ganga is a bargain, although ganga may be heard in Spanglish as a word for ~  “gang,” the usual word is pandilla.

Grabar vs Grab       Grabar is to engrave, record (as in a tape recorder), or impress. ~ Grab = asir, coger, or arrebatar.

Gracioso vs Gracious       Gracioso means funny or cute. ~ Gracious = gentil, cortés, or refinado.

Grosería vs Grocery Store      Grosería seems to follow the -ía pattern on most Spanish words for stores, but in fact it refers only to rudeness, crudeness, or vulgarity.     ~ Grocery Store = tienda de abarrotes/comestibles, bodega, or abacería, depending on what country you’re in.

Honesto vs Honest       Honesto means sincere, honorable, or decent. ~Honest = sincero, franco, or honrado.

Humor vs Humor       Humor means mood or humor. ~  Humor refers to gracia or humor. Sense of humor = sentido del humor.

Idioma vs Idiom      Idioma refers to a language. ~ Idiom = idiotosmo, modismo, or lenguaje.

Ignorar vs Ignore    Ignorar means to not know or to be unaware of. ~ Ignore = no hacer caso de, desatender, or dejar a un lado.

Inconsecuente vs Inconsequential        Inconsecuente refers to something that is contradictory.    ~ Something inconsequential (among other possibilities) = de poca importancia.

Insulación(?) vs Insulation      Insulación isn’t a word in Spanish (although you may hear it in Spanglish).   ~ “Insulation” = aislamiento.

Insulto vs Insult      Insulto means insult in most places, but in Mexico it can also refer to indigestion or a stomachache. ~ Insult (n) = insulto.

Introducir vs Introduce        Introducir is a semi-false cognate. It means to introduce only in the context of introducing a topic. Introducir can mean to introduce a topic or a person.   ~ Introduce = presentar.

Jubilación vs Jubilation      Jubilación refers to retirement: both the act of retiring and a pension. ~ Jubilation = júbilo.

Labor vs Labor     Labor can mean any kind of work: paid work, chores, needlework, etc. ~ Labor = trabajo (the actual work) or la mano de obra (the workers).

Largo vs Large       Largo means long, generous, or abundant. ~ Large = grande or importante.

Lectura vs Lecture       Lectura refers to the act of reading or reading material. ~ Lecture = una conferencia, una explicación, or un sermoneo.

Letra vs Letter      Letra refers only to a letter of the alphabet. ~ Letter = un letra (of the alphabet) or una carta (that you write to a friend).

Librería/Librero vs Library       Librería is a bookstore, while librero refers to a bookseller or bookcase. ~ Library = una biblioteca.

Lujuria vs Luxury       Lujuria = lust, lewdness, excess. ~ Luxury = el lujo.

Mama vs Mama       Mama refers to a breast(aka seno, where tete is just the nipple),  as in    “Mamitis” = mama’s boy (A man who has not cut the cord). ~ Mama = mamá (see how important an accent can be?)

Mango vs Mango      Mango can mean mango the fruit as well as a handle (as of a knife).   ~ Mango = mango.

Marca/Marco vs Mark      Marca is a mark (as in a spot or line) as well as a brand, make, or label.   In sports, una marca is a record or best time.    Un marco is a (picture) frame, goal, setting, or framework.    ~ Mark = una mancha or una señal.

Masa vs Mass      Masa can mean mass (in terms of people and volume), as well as dough. ~ Mass (in reference to church) = la misa.

Matar vs Mate     Matar means to kill.    Mate = as a noun is un macho / una hembra for animals, un compañero / una compañera for people. ~ To mate means aparear or unir.

Mayor vs Mayor     Mayor as an adjective means main, major, larger, older. As a noun it means chief, boss, superior, adult, or ancestor. ~ Mayor = el alcalde or la alcadesa.

Minorista vs Minority     Minorista is a Caribbean and South American word for retail or retail seller.  ~ Minority = la minoría or, as an adjective, minoritario.

Molestar vs Molest     Molestar means to annoy or bother. ~ Molest = acosar sexualmente.

Motivo vs Motive      Motivo isn’t necessarily the same thing as motive (which tends to have a negative connotation, like “motive for the murder”);    it’s more like reason or cause.    ~ Motive = móvil, motivos, or intención.

Natural vs Natural      Natural as an adjective means natural, fresh (with fruit), and illegimate (with children). As a noun it means nature or native. ~ Natural = natural, normal, innato, or biológico (with family members).

Negocio vs Negotiation        Negocio refers to a business, deal, or transaction.   ~ Negotiation = una negociación.

Nombre vs Number      Nombre means name or noun. ~ Number = un número.

Noticia vs Notice      Noticia is a news item or piece of news. Noticias means news or information.  ~  Notice = un aviso.  ~ To notice = a notar.

Nudo vs Nude       Nudo is a noun: knot, node, joint.  ~ Nude (as a noun or adjective) = desnudo.

Ocasión vs Occasion        Ocasión is usually a chance or opportunity.    Ocasión can also mean cause or reason, and in Latin American Ocasión refers to a bargain. a notice   Occasion =  una vez, una oportunidad, un acontecimiento, una razón, or un motivo.

Oculto vs Occult      Oculto can mean hidden, concealed, or secret, as well as occult. a notice  Occult = oculto or misterioso.

Oficial vs Official   Oficial as an adjective is the same as in English. Oficial as a noun, it refers to a military officer or a skilled worker.  ~ Official (as a noun) = un funcionario.

Oficio vs Office       Oficio = trade or function, religious service/mass, or an official letter. ~ Office =  una oficina, un despacho.

Once vs Once    Once is eleven in Spanish. Once = una vez.

Ordinario vs Ordinary       Ordinario can mean ordinary as well as common or coarse (in reference to a person) and fine or ok, in answer to ¿Cómo estás?   ~ Ordinary = normal or corriente.

Pan vs Pan    Pan is bread.   ~ Pan is una cazuela, cacerola, olla, or sartén (skillet).

Papa/Papá vs Papa    Papa means potato when it’s feminine (la papa) and Pope when it’s masculine (el Papa).   Papá is equivalent to poppa or dad in English.  ~ Papa = papá.

Parientes vs Parents    Parientes refers to your extended family, cousins, uncles, aunts etc. Parents on the other hand, refers only to your father and mother.   Therefore, parientes is relatives in English.   ~ Parents =  los padres.

Patrón vs Patron      Patrón can indicate a boss or owner as well as a pattern or standard.    ~ Patron = patrocinador or cliente.

Pie vs Pie     Pie = foot – both the body part and unit of distance (12 inches). ~ Pie = pastel.

Plagio vs Plague     Plagio is plagiarism.   ~ Plague = la peste, la plaga, or el fastidio.

Prácticamente vs Practically      Prácticamente should not be used to mean almost; it means practically in the sense of “in a practical way” or “in practical terms.” ~  Practically = casi = almost

Preciso vs Precise    Preciso can mean precise, correct, or necessary. ~ Precise = preciso or exacto.

Presente vs Present       Presente means  present when talking about time or presence.  ~Present meaning “gift” = un regalo.

Preservativo vs Preservative        Preservativo indicates a condom. ~ Preservative = un conservador.

Pretender vs Pretend      Pretender means to claim: Ella pretende ser rica – She claims to be rich. ~ Pretend = fingir or simular.

Privado vs Private     Privado means private as in exclusive (such as a school or club).   ~ Private is fairly general – it’s basically the opposite of public = privado, personal, secreto, íntimo, or particular.

Procurar vs Procure     Procurar rarely means to procure; the more common translations by far are to try and to manage (to do something). ~ Procure = obtener, conseguir.

Quitar vs Quit      Quitar means to take away, remove, or get rid of. ~ Quit = dejar, abandonar, salir de. To quit one’s job = abandonar su puesto, dimitir.

Rapista vs Rapist      Rapista is an uncommon word for a barber (peluquero or even the cognate barbero is more common), being derived from the verb rapar, to cut close or to shave.   ~ A sexual attacker (rapist) is a violador.

Raro vs Rare    Raro can mean rare, but more commonly means odd or strange.  ~ Rare = poco común or excepcional.

Real vs Real     Real can mean real as well as royal.  ~ Real = verdadero, auténtico, or legítimo.

Realizar vs Realize    Realizar means to realize only in the sense of to make real, to attain, or to fulfill.  ~ Realize can mean realizar as well as darse cuenta de, comprender, and reconocer.

Receta vs Receipt      Receta = recipe or prescription.  ~ Receipt = un recibo  or una factura (as in an official receipt for taxes).

Recolección vs Recollection      Recolección is a collection, harvest, or summary.  ~ Recollection = recuerdo or la memoria.

Recordar vs Record       Recordar means to remember, recall, or remind. ~ Record (the verb) = registrar, inscribir, or grabar.

Red vs Red     Red refers to a network – like the internet. ~ Red the color = rojo.

Relativo vs Relative      Relativo has the same meaning as an adjective, but as a noun it is used only in linguistics.  ~ Relative as a noun = pariente or familiar.

Restar vs Rest      Rester means to take away or subtract, to not give much,    to remain or be left or,    in sports, to return. ~ Rest as a verb = descansar or apoyar.

Revolver vs Revolver     Revolver is a verb: to move around, turn over, revolve, or disturb.   ~ Revolver is a noun = un revólver (that accent is important!)

Ropa vs Rope    Ropa means clothing.   Rope = una cuerda or una soga.

Salario vs Salary     Salario refers to hourly wages.   ~ Salary as fixed earnings per month or year = el sueldo.

Sano vs Sane     Sano = healthy, fit, or intact.  ~ Sane = cuerdo, sensato, or de juicio sano.

Sensible vs Sensible    Sensible = sensitive or regrettable.  ~ Sensible = juicioso, sensato, or prudente.

Sensiblemente vs Sensibly   Sensiblemente usually means “perceptibly” or “appreciably,” sometimes “painfully.”  ~ Sensibly is sesudamente.

Simple vs Simple    Simple can nearly always be translated by simple: when it means foolish, not compound, etc.   ~ Simple (as in unadorned or uncomplicated) =  sencillo.

Sobre vs Sober    Sobre is either a noun: envelope,   or a preposition: on, above, over.   ~ Sober  = sobrio or sereno.

Sopa vs Soap     Sopa refers to soup or, informally, a hangover.   ~ Soap =  jabón.

Soportar vs Support       Soportar means to bear, carry, support, hold up, or withstand.  ~ Support as a verb = apoyar, sostener, or mantener.

Suceder vs Succeed      Suceder means to happen or to follow, come next.    ~ Succeed = tener éxito, triunfar.

Suceso vs Success    Suceso is an event, incident, happening, or sometimes a crime.  ~ Success = un éxito or triunfo.

Tabla vs Table      Tabla can refer to a board, plank, sheet (of metal), table top, or stage.  ~ Table =  una mesa.

Tipo vs Type    Tipo means type/kind as well as guy or bloke.  ~ Type = tipo or clase.   ~ To type (as a verb) = escribir a máquina.

Trampa vs Tramp    Trampa indicates a trap.  ~ Tramp = un vagabundo or una zorra.

Tratar vs Treat   Tratar means to treat or handle; to deal with, be about, have to do with; or to address.  ~ Treat as a verb = tratar, invitar, curar, or discutir.

Tuna vs Tuna   Tuna has a range of meanings: prickly pear, a student music group (glee club), the life of a rogue, and, in Central America, drunkenness.   ~  Tuna = el atún.

Últimamente vs Ultimately     Últimamente means lastly, finally, as a last resort, or lately. ~  Ultimately = por último, al final, a la larga, en el fondo.

Último vs Ultimate     Último means final or last.  ~ Ultimate has several meanings:  the best = definitivo;   the most important/essential = fundamental, esencial;   the latest or the last one= último .

Vaso vs Vase     Vaso is a glass or tumbler.   ~  Vase = un florero or jarrón.

and mi Yucasposa y Familia

*                  *                  *                 *

A good gringa friend of ours visited Yucatán as a part of a High School Spanish Class trip. She and her best friend just happened to fall in love with a pair of Mayan brothers from Cordamex, a working-class colonia that housed workers & their families for the nearby rope factories.

This muy bonita chica continued to return and visit her new “friend”, even though his Mamá was convinced that this North American hussy was trying to steal her precious boy. The girl ultimately moved to Mérida for several months, daily helping Mamá prepare the family’s meals, washing clothes by hand, scrubbing floors, cleaning the patio, etc. After 2 months of hot hard labor, she was invited to the family’s Sunday afternoon almuerzo.

Rather than being relegated to kitchen duty, Mamá directed her to come into the center of the family group, where in front of Abuelo y Abuelita and all the Tios y Tias, primos y primas, Mamá got out her tape measure and started to measure her for her own huipil (the beautifully embroidered dresses that Maya women & Mestizas wear here).

The young friend was very humbled and surprised to receive such a public honor – and she blushed and said:
Yo soy muy embarazada!

Mamá looked mortified, the Tios scowled, the Tias gasped…

The young Americana’s Mayan boyfriend jumped up and excitedly tried to explain to his horrified family that “embarazada” has a very different meaning in English = avergonzado, molesto, or incómodo … It didn’t help that Mamá was previously convinced that the American was trying to trap her son…

*                  *                  *                 *

Finally, it’s worth recognizing just how many Spanish words have fine almost-exact counterparts in English … aka Cognates.

1001 Spanish Words You Already Know – A Guide To English-Spanish Cognates

Feel free to copy with proper attribution: YucaLandia/Surviving Yucatan.
© Steven M. Fry

Read-on MacDuff . . .

7 Responses to Spanish – English False Cognates

  1. Pingback: Spanish False Cognates | Surviving Yucatan

  2. Good blog with some interesting information. I will be back.

  3. Joanne says:

    Intoxicacion vs Intoxication…. Intoxicacion means poisoning – this was the term used when our daughter went to the ER with food poisoning. Intoxication of course means drunkenness.

  4. Pepa says:

    Est bastante bien el articulo. Hay otros articulos no me gustan demasiado, en cualquier caso, la
    mayora estn bien.

  5. Pingback: Spanish Lesson 2 – Improve your Spanish vocabulary with Cognates – Natalie Platon

  6. Pingback: Improve your Spanish vocabulary with Cognates – Natalie Platon

  7. Marvelous article, thanks for sharing !!

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