Watch out for “False Friends” in Spanish!

In Spanish there are many false cognates – words that look the same as an English word but they have a completely different meaning. This can be confusing and may lead to misunderstanding. Here are the most commonly used “false friends” to watch out for.

1. actual in Spanish means current/present. (To say “actual” in Spanish, use real / verdadero)

2. asistir = to attend NOT to assist (ayudar)

3. atender = to take care of/attend to NOT to attend (asistir)

4. bizarro = brave NOT bizarre/strange (raro / extraño)

5. boda = wedding NOT body (cuerpo)

6. carpeta = file/folder NOT carpet (alfombra / moqueta)

7. conductor = driver NOT conductor (cobrador)

8. constipado = to have a cold NOT constipated (estreñido)

9. contestar = to answer NOT to contest (contender)

10. decepción = disappointment NOT deception (engaño)

11. delito = crime NOT delight (delicia / placer)

12. disgusto = displeasure/upset NOT disgust (asco)

13. embarazada = pregnant NOT embarrassed (darse vergüenza)

14. emocionante = exciting NOT emotional (emocional)

15. en absoluto = not at all/absolutely not NOT absolutely (completamente)

16. éxito = success NOT exit (salida)

17. fábrica = factory NOT fabric (tela / tejido)

18. ganga = bargain NOT gang (pandilla)

19. gracioso = funny NOT gracious (elegante / cortés)

20. largo = long NOT large (grande)

21. molestar = to bother/annoy NOT to molest (abusar)

22. once = eleven NOT once (una vez)

23. pretender = to try NOT to pretend (fingir)

24. real = royal NOT real (verdadero / auténtico)

25. realizar = to carry out/to complete NOT to realise (darse cuenta)

26. recordar = to remember/remind NOT to record (grabar) [for audio/video] or (anotar) [writing]

27. ropa = clothing NOT rope (cuerda or soga)

28. sano = healthy NOT sane (en su juicio)

29. sensible = sensitive NOT sensible (sensato/a)

30. sopa = soup NOT soap (jabón)

31. suceso = an event/happening NOT success (éxito)

 
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