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False cognates in Spanish and English

Today we are going to learn some false cognates in Spanish and English!

A cognate is a word that has the same origin as another one.

For example, educación in Spanish is cognate with ‘education’ in English, since both come from Latin educatio.

You can check my previous articles 250 words that are the same in English and Spanish and Spanish words that are similar to English words.

You will expand your vocabulary in Spanish right away!

But in other cases, there are also false cognates -or false friends-, words that are really similar, even written the same sometimes, and yet they have a different meaning.

Probably the most famous pair of false friends is ’embarrased’ and embarazado, which means ‘pregnant’.

Let’s learn more of those false cognates in Spanish and English!

False cognates in Spanish and English

These are some of the most common false friends in Spanish.

As always, I have chosen those that native Spanish speakers really use in their daily lives!


acomodar = to tidy up

actualmente = currently

advertencia = warning

advertir = to warn

arena = sand

argumentar = to argue (to give reasons)

argumento = argument (reason), plot

asignatura = subject, course

asistir = to attend (asistir can mean ‘to assist’ too, but it’s rather formal)

atender = to serve, to answer


billón = trillion

blando = soft, tender

bombero = firefighter


café = coffee

cafetería = cafe, snack bar

carpeta = folder

cartón = cardboard

casualidad = chance

chocar = to crash

codo = elbow

collar = necklace, collar (for pets)

conductor = driver

contestar = to answer

costumbre = habit, custom

curso = course


decepción = disappointment

dinero = money

discusión = argument (fight)

disgusto = annoyance


embarazada = pregnant

empresa = company

envolver = to wrap

espada = sword

excitado = horny

éxito = success

una mujer embarazada - false friends in spanish
La mujer está embarazada y está muy feliz. Foto de Amina Filkins en Pexels


fábrica = factory

fin = end, purpose


gracioso = funny

grosería = rudeness, swear word


horno = oven


idioma = language

intentar = to try

introducir = to put in, to insert


jamón = ham


largo = long, length

lectura = reading

librería = bookshop, bookstore

lujuria = lust


mayor = older, oldest, bigger, biggest

media = sock, average

molestar = to disturb, to annoy


noticia = news

nudo = knot


ocurrencia = idea

once = eleven


pan = bread

pariente = relative

pie = foot

preservativo = condom

pretender = to want, to expect

presumir = to show off (although possible, native speakers don’t use it to mean ‘to presume’)

probar = to prove, to check, to try (a food or a drink)


quitar = to take off, to remove


realizar = to make, to carry out

recordar = to remember

red = net, network

resumen = summary

ropa = clothes


salado = salty

sano = healthy, fit

sensible = sensitive

sonrisa = smile

simpatía = liking, charm

soportar = to put up with, to stand

suceso = event, incident


trampa = trap, cheating

And that’s all for today!

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