Top 10 False Cognates in Spanish - Yabla Español - Lecciones de Spanish gratis (2022)

In a previous lesson, we focused on the Spanishverb pretender (to hope, expect, try, etc.). Although this word closely resembles the English word "pretend," its meaning is totally different, putting it intothe category of false cognates in Spanish.Also known as "faux amis" or "false friends," English-speakers often misuse these types of words for obvious reasons! Let's take a look at some of the most commonfalse cognates in Spanish so we can be on the lookout for them in everyday speech.

List of False Cognates in Spanish: Yabla's Top Ten

1. embarazada

While English speakers might be tempted to say Estoy embarazada when attemptingto say "I'm embarrassed," this could lead to a very serious misunderstanding! Let's take a look:

Si estuviera embarazada, me hubiera dado cuenta. ¿No le parece?

If I were pregnant, I would have noticed! Don't you think?

Caption 71, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro

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While we can see thatestar embarazadameans "to be pregnant,"there are many ways to express the idea of being embarrassed in Spanish, such astener vergüenza or dar(le) pena (a alguien).Let's look at some examples:

Es que me da pena.

It's just that I'm embarrassed.

Caption 42, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 8

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En este momento, duda porque tiene vergüenza de ir a la escuela,

At this moment she hesitates because she's embarrassed to go to school,

Caption 49, Con ánimo de lucro - Cortometraje

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The Spanish adjective actualis very confusing since it is spelled exactly like the English word "actual." However, actualis a false cognate inSpanish that "actually" means "current," as in the following example:

Creo que realmente hay que buscar otra vía, otra solución a...

I think that you really need to find another road, another solution to...

la situación de ahora. -A la situación actual.

to the situation now. -To the current situation.

Captions 43-44, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos

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If you do wantto speak aboutthe "actual situation" in Spanish, youmight say: lasituación verdadera or lasituación real. Let's check outthese two words in action:

Pero esta es la verdadera isla

But this one is the actual island

Caption 26, Cholito - En la playa con Cholito

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Nadie sabe el nombre real de esta ciudad,

Nobody knows the actual name of this city,

Caption 37, Querido México - Teotihuacán

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The Spanish nounéxitomight look like "exit," but its actual meaning is "success," while the Spanish verbteneréxitomeans "to be successful":

Bueno, ha sido un éxito, ¿no, Jesús?

Well, it has been a success, right, Jesus?

Caption 88, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Cachorro de leopardo

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El brut ha tenido mucho éxito.

The brut has been very successful.

Caption 51, Europa Abierta - Champagne en Andalucía

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On the other hand, in order to talk about an actual "exit" in Spanish, la salidais the way to go:

Tiene una salida al patio de atrás para su ventilación.

It has an exit to the back patio for your ventilation.

Caption 12, Ricardo - La compañera de casa

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Although it might seem like lafábricawould mean "the fabric," its true translation is "the factory."

un tipo que tenía una fábrica de alcancías ¿no?

a guy who hadapiggy bankfactory, right?

Y la gente dejaba de ahorrar y el tipo se va a la quiebra.

And people stopped saving and the guy goes bankrupt.

Captions 32-33, Muñeca Brava - 47 Esperanzas

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As we see in the following example, the Spanish word for "fabric" istela:

Aquí, tengo un cárdigan liviano.

Here, I have a light knit sweater.

La tela no es muy gruesa,

The fabric isn't very thick,

Captions 30-31, Natalia de Ecuador - Vocabulario de prendas de vestir

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As a side note, although the verb fabricaroccasionally means "tofabricate" in the sense of lyingor makingthings up, the more common verbs for describingthose actionsarementir andinventar, whereasthe most typical translation forfabricar is"to make" or"manufacture":

la cuarta generación de una empresa familiar

the fourth generation of a family business

que fabrica diferentes variedades de zumos,

thatmanufacturesdifferent kinds of juices,

sidras, sopas y mermeladas.

ciders, soups and jams.

Captions 28-29, Europa Abierta - Empuje para Pymes

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That said, let's take a look at some additionalverbs that fall into the "false friend" category.

5. molestar

The Spanish verbmolestardoes not mean "to molest" (for which you might sayabusaroracosar sexualmente), but rather "to annoy" or "bother":

Vine a decirte que te quedes tranquilo,

I came to tell you to not to worry,

que mi hijo no te va a molestar más.

that my son is not going to bother you anymore.

Captions 1-2, Muñeca Brava - 46 Recuperación

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Once again, substitution of the word this verbsounds like in English could result in avery serious misunderstanding.

6. enviar

Just because it sounds like "envy," don't mix up the Spanish verbenviar, which means"to send," withenvidiar (to envy).Let's take a look at examples of each of these verbs:

Como ya tengo su dirección de correo, le puedo enviar el contrato.

As I already have your e-mail address, I can send you the contract.

Caption 37, Negocios - Empezar en un nuevo trabajo

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¡Ay, cómo envidio esa sartén! No sabe.

Oh, how I envy that frying pan! You don't know.

Caption 1, Muñeca Brava - 7 El poema

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7. introducir

The most common translations forthe Spanish verbintroducir are"to put" or "insert." Let's look:

Ahora lo que tenemos que hacer es introducir todo en la olla.

What we have to do now is put everything in the pot.

Caption 43, La cocina de María - Cocido Malagueño

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Ahora introduces la esquina izquierda en este doblez,

Now you insert the left corner into this fold,

Caption 48, Manos a la obra - Separadores de libros: Charmander

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It is worth noting that the Spanish verb introducircan occasionally be translated as "to introduce," most oftenwhen speaking about the introduction of some item or concept. However, the most frequently employedverbto describethe idea of "introducing," say, people to one another, ispresentar:

Les quiero presentar a Pedro, un experto en la Calle Ocho.

I want to introduce you guys to Pedro, an expert on Calle Ocho.

Caption 21, La Calle 8 - Un recorrido fascinante

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8. asistir

Let's examinea typicaluse of the Spanish verbasistir:

y me fascinaba perderme entre sus calles

and it fascinated me to get lost in its streets

y asistir a la innumerable cantidad de eventos culturales

andattendthe countless number of cultural events

que la ciudad tiene para ofrecerte.

that the city has to offer you.

Captions 11-13, Latinos por el mundo - Gio en Barcelona

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Although the Spanish verbasistir can indeed mean "to help" or "assist," this verb and its counterpart asistir aare includedinthe category of false cognates in Spanish due totheir alternative meaning,"to attend."

9. recordar

Although theSpanish false cognaterecordar certainlyseems like it would mean "to record," it actually means "to remember" or "remind," as in the following captions:

empiezan a hacer su ritual de movimientos y sonidos, si hace falta,

they start to do their ritual of movements and sounds, if necessary,

para recordarte que es la hora de su comida.

to remind you that it's their mealtime.

Captions 58-59, Fermín y los gatos - Mis gatas vecinas

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¿Recuerdas cuál era la copa para servir vino?

Do you remember which cup was the one for serving wine?

Caption 36, Ana Carolina - El comedor

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"To record," in turn, is conveyed with the Spanish verb grabar:

Utiliza video o audio

Use video or audio

para grabarte mientras lees o improvisas un pequeño diálogo,

to record yourself while you read or improvise a little dialogue,

Captions 51-52, Ana Carolina - Mejorando la pronunciación

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10. soportar

Rather than"to support," the Spanish verbsoportaroften means "to tolerate," "endure," or "bear":

No lo pude aguantar, no se puede soportar eso.

I couldn't stand it, that can't be tolerated.

Caption 50, Yago - 7 Encuentros

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Although "soportar" can also mean "support" in the sense of bearing weight, the more common verb for talking about the notion of "supporting" someone or something, especially in figurative senses such asemotionally, economically, etc., isapoyar:

La abuela estaba loca si pensaba que la íbamos a apoyar.

Grandma was crazy if she thought that we were going to support her.

Caption 9, Los Años Maravillosos - Capítulo 3

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These are just a few examples of the many false cognatesin Spanish. For additionalexamples of false cognates in Spanish, you might enjoy our lessons on the verbsrealizar(to carry out) and falta(shortage, foul, offense, etc.). In the meantime, we hope our list of false cognates in Spanish will help you to identify andunderstand them when you runacross themand don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments.

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