Spanish Cognates

By optilingo

Learn all about cognates in Spanish; also includes false cognates (Spanish false friends)

Understanding grammar will help you on your way to foreign language fluency. When learning the Spanish language, it’s important to understand cognantes and false cognates.

Cognates are words in different languages that have similar orthography and the same or similar meaning. Sometime the pronunciation is very similar, too. However, as English and Spanish have similarities, it’s not surprising that they have words with almost, if not the same orthography and, of course, the same meaning.

For instance, we have the word “calculator” and in Spanish we find it is “calculadora”. As well we can find the adjective “important” or “importante”.

Common Spanish Cognates

ENGLISH

SPANISH

Invitation.

Invitación.

Agenda.

Agenda.

Artificial.

Artificial.

Superior

Superior.

While cognates have the same orthography and meaning, near cognates have some variation in their orthography but they have the same meaning.

For instance, the word “action” in English does not have the same orthography as “acción” in the Spanish language, but they have the same meaning.

Common Spanish near cognates

Authorization

Autorización

Basic

Básico

Product

Producto

Application

Aplicación

Support

Soporte

Near Cognates endings.

Near cognates, the words in different languages that have some variation in their orthography but they do share the same meaning. Some of them have certain ending patterns that can be appreciated in other languages as well. This phenomenon is given because of the same Latin root found in both languages.

Endings – tion, -ción.

The following near perfect cognates follow the rule for nouns ending ‘tion’ in English can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ‘ción’.

SPANISH

ENGLISH

Attention

Atención

Application

Aplicación

Combination

Combinación

Exposition

Exposición

Colaboration

Colaboración.

Endings –ary, – ario.

The following near cognates follow the rule for English nouns ending ‘ary’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ‘ario’.

SPANISH

ENGLISH

Diary

Diario

Salary

Salario

Temporary

Temporario

Adversary

Adversario

Endings – ic, -ico

The following near cognates follow the rule for English adjectives ending ‘ic’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ‘ico’

SPANISH

ENGLISH

Authentic.

Aunténtico.

Fantastic.

Fantástico.

Basic.

Básico.

Characteristic.

Característico.

Endings – ous, – oso.

The following near perfect cognates follow the rule for English adjectives ending ‘ous’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ‘oso’.

SPANISH

ENGLISH

Numerous

Numeroso

Curious

Curioso

Mysterious

Misterioso

Endings – ct, – cto.

The following near perfect cognates follow the rule for nouns ending ‘ct’ in English can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ‘cto’.

SPANISH

ENGLISH

Product

Producto

Contract

Contrato

Perfect

Perfecto

Act

Acto

False Cognates or False Friends

False cognates or false friends are words with a common root in English and Spanish, mostly Latin, but with different meaning, and sometimes they mean the opposite. This happens because the languages evolved differently.

For instance the word “Assist” in English means to help someone while the world “Asistir” in Spanish means to attend. It is easier to remember false cognates by heart.

Do watch out for words that appear or sound the same to English words but aren’t. Here are a few interesting words that you should know so that you do not make the mistake of misunderstanding what someone is saying.

Spanish Word

What It Means

What It Sounds Like, But Doesn’t Mean

Actualmente

Currently

Actually

Aviso

Warning

Advise

Carpeta

Folder

Carpet

Casualidad

Chance

Casualty

Codo

Elbow

Code

Dormitorio

Bedroom

Dormitory

Embarazada

Pregnant

Embarrassed

Enviar

Send

Envy

Éxito

Successful

Exit

Idioma

Language

Idiom

Lectura

Reading

Lecture

Nudo

Knot

Nude

Recordar

Remember

Record

Ropa

Clothes

Rope

Sano

Healthy

Sane

Soportar

Tolerate, Put up with

Support

Últimamente

Recently

Ultimately