Recently, I gathered with some great colleagues for a Zoom “coffee”, and the topic was the infamous “false friends” words in Spanish and English.
Because Spanish and English share a lot of words with Latin roots, it’s easy to understand each language. But sometimes words with the same origin take a separate path in each language, or words with different origins resemble each other by coincidence. That can mean trouble!
So, here are some of the most common “false friends” and their meanings:
ASISTIR (Spanish) – ASSIST (English):
Although they look quite similar, they don’t mean the same. “Asistir” in Spanish means to attend, to be present at (a place). “Assist” in English means to help.
CARPETA (Spanish) – CARPET (English):
Another similar one! “Carpeta” in Spanish means folder (and in some countries the word “fólder” is used instead). “Carpet” in English means carpet.
CASUALIDAD (Spanish) – CASUALTY (English):
This is one that I’ve found a few times. “Casualidad” in Spanish means coincidence; chance. “Casualty” in English means victim.
COLEGIO (Spanish) – COLLEGE (English):
Although both refer to places where people study, they don’t refer to the same place. “Colegio” in Spanish means school. “College” in English means university.
EMBARAZADA (Spanish) – EMBARRASSED (English):
This is a very common one! “Embarazada” in Spanish means pregnant. “Embarrassed” in English means ashamed.
ÉXITO (Spanish) – EXIT (English):
This one became very famous because of a very popular ad for an online English learning platform. “Éxito” in Spanish means success; hit. “Exit” in English means a way out (of somewhere).
INTRODUCIR (Spanish) – INTRODUCE (English):
This one really confuses people sometimes. “Introducir” in Spanish means to insert. “Introduce” in English means to present someone.
LARGO (Spanish) – LARGE (English):
One of the most common and difficult to make people understand the difference. “Largo” in Spanish means long. “Large” in English means big.
LIBRERÍA (Spanish) – LIBRARY (English):
This one is one of the most infamous ones! “Librería” in Spanish means bookstore. “Library” in English means a public book-lending place (“biblioteca” in Spanish).
PRETENDER (Spanish) – PRETEND (English):
They do look very similar! “Pretender” in Spanish means to attempt; to woo. “Pretend” in English means to fake; to act as if.
There are many more “false friends”, but I decided to start with some of the most common ones, or at least the ones I’ve seen more often.
Can you think of any others? If so, make sure to share them in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!
I’d like to thank “Day Translations” for sponsoring this post. You can check out their website here: https://www.daytranslations.com/
This is my last blog post of the year! I wish you the most wonderful holidays and see you in 2022!