Today we’ll look at some of the most common Spanish English false friends. We name false friends those words or groups of words that look very alike in both English and Spanish but actually have a different meaning or use.
There is a slight difference between false friends and false cognates: while the false friends look the same but are to be understood differently, the false cognates look alike, and may mean the same, but their etymologies vary.
An example of false cognates Spanish English is the duo “mucho-much”. In Spanish, much is an adverb of quantity normally placed after a verb (Me gusta mucho este libro, “I like this book very much”). The meaning of mucho is very similar to the meaning of “much”, and the two words also sound the same, but they have different roots. Mucho comes from Latin, whilst “much” comes from Proto-Germanic.
LIST OF SPANISH ENGLISH FALSE FRIENDS:
|Carta||Letter||Cart||Carretilla / Carrito de compras (US)|
|Realizar||Do, make, carry out||Realize||Darse cuenta|
Here it’s important to keep in mind that languages are self-sufficient systems, in which components can look and work differently from what would occur in another language. In their formation and development, languages take what they need and adapt it to their inner system of rules (its grammar, phonetics, and syntax). This is why “learning” a language by translating everything to your native language can be tricky and not pay off right. Let us highlight this: we did not know our own language when we learned it. That’s the reason we had to learn it, in the first place. Language learning is an adventure of endless discovery.
Check it out our basic Spanish words with English translation as well. Do you have any thoughts on the Spanish English false friends? Let’s practice them!
Beware these Spanish English false friends. Here are some exercises to avoid them at all costs.
Choose the best option: