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5 Spanish-English False friends

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Did I say embarazado?

As an English or Spanish student, you may have used the strategy to translate some words literally from one language to another and it may have worked in many occasions. However, languages are a bit tricky sometimes. That's why, today we want to write about 5 words that are false cognates (they look and sound very similar, but have different meanings).

1. Embarrassed = Avergonzado

Have you ever been embarrassed and said you were 'embarazado'? What you actually mant is that you were 'avergonzado'. The word 'embarazada/o' means pregnant in Spanish ; )

2. Preservatives = Conservantes

If you are a healthy guru and want to avoid having preservatives in your food, be careful not to say 'preservativos' because they mean 'condoms'. The kind of food or chemicals you are looking for are 'conservantes'. Just like being with the author Cervantes.

3. Actually = De hecho

This is a connector we use all the time in English. But, don't be confused with the word 'Actualmente', because it means 'currently'. Think of actually as 'in fact', and then you won't be wrong.

4. Constipated = Estreñido

Yes, you heard right. This is one of the False Friends that make people laugh. Whenever a Spanish person caught a cold, in Spanish you say you are 'constipado'. The expression is 'Estar constipado' (remember it is temporary). So, if you are learning English, don't say you are 'constipated' or people may look at you in a strange way and recommend you to take some fibre.

5. To realize = Darse cuenta

This is one of our favourite False Friends and very much confused by students everywhere. When you 'realize/ realise' about something, it is not 'realizar'. That, in Spanish means to perform an action. For instance, 'realizar un trabajo' to perform/to do a job. Nonetheless, you should say: 'Me he dado cuenta' - I've realised, if you've found out or figured out something.

Have you learned anything new today? We hope you can practise all of these False friends in class or during your trips.

Remember that you can also join us at the most popular language exchange online we organise once a month. It is a great opportunity to practise Spanish and English with native speakers from the comfort of your home.

More information: GOYA EXCHANGE

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Text: Paula Ruiz.

Images: Wix

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