Is English really that difficult?

English is a Germanic language, which means it has lots of similarities with German and Dutch. However, you might be surprised to learn that many English words actually come from Latin.

That’s good news for Spanish speakers as 30% – 40% of all vocabulary in English have related words in Spanish.

These similar words are known as cognates.

Perfect Cognates


These are words which are spelt exactly the same in two languages and have the same meaning. Be careful – although the spelling may be the same, the pronunciation is often different.

Examples in English and Spanish include:

  • Animal – Animal.
  • Chocolate – Chocolate.
  • Hotel – Hotel
  • Simple – Simple

Near Perfect Cognates


These are words which are very similar and have the same meaning but the spelling is slightly different.

Examples in English and Spanish include:

  • Attention – Atención.
  • Public – Público.
  • Religious – Religioso
  • Delicious – Delicioso

False Cognates


The difficulty arises when we come to false cognates or as they are more commonly known false friends.

These are words which look the same but have a completely different meaning, which often confuses people learning both English and Spanish.

Probably the most famous example is the mix up between embarrassed and embarazada. When a grown man claims that he is Embarazada in Spanish it’s terribly funny – embarazada means you are pregnant, while the English word Embarrassed means to feel self-conscious or awkward.

Here are 10 more false friends in English and Spanish you need to know today!

10 False Friends in English and Spanish - Infographic

Now you know some of the most common false friends in English and Spanish, pay attention next time you have to use one of these words and make sure you use them correctly.

Are there any other false friends you often have problems with? Share them with us in the comments.


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