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False Spanish English Cognates

The convertible words between Spanish and English are called "cognates". These Spanish English cognates usually have the same roots. The Spanish English cognates are a hidden gem for English speakers who are learning Spanish (or for Spanish speakers who are learning English).

However, there are also many "false Spanish English cognates". These pairs of words look similar in Spanish and English but their actual meanings can be very different. It is not uncommon for English speakers to use these false cognate words incorrectly without knowing it. To avoid making such mistakes in Spanish, it is to the student's advantage to learn and master these Spanish English false cognates.

Following is a list of 56 common false Spanish English cognates. You can download a PDF of this false Spanish English cognates list at the end of this page.

Word Explanation (if any)

advertencia n. warning, piece of advice, reminder, or preface

advertisement n. un anuncio

aguardar to wait for

guard guardar; defender; proteger

argumento n. reasoning (as in a courtroom)

argument n. 1) argumento (in the sense of reasoning);
2) discusión, pelea, disputa, or polémica (in the sense of disagreement)

asesor n. advisor

assessor n. evaluador

asunto n. subject, topic

assumption n. suposición

atender (Latin America) to attend; (Spain) to pay attention to, to heed, or to care for

attend asistir

billete n. item of paper money

bill Besides money, bill has several other meanings in English: cuenta; proyecto de legislación.

bizarro adj. 1) valient, gallant, brave, or 2) generous

bizarre adj. extraño or raro

cámara n. 1) a camera, 2) a camera operator, 3) a chamber.

camera n. a still camera: una cámara

carrera n. running, race; row, line; beam, girder, joist; route, ride, journey, course; avenue; career; university studies

career n. una carrera profesional, una profesión (Note that career does not have the many meanings that 'carrera' has.)

cartera n. wallet

card n. tarjeta; naipe

colorado adj. red or reddish

colored adj. de color

comodidad n. comfort

commodity n. producto agrícola, especialmente mercancía

conexión n. a physical or logical connection, not human connection

connection n.1) conexión, 2) (when referring to human connection) relación

conformar to be in agreement, but also to adapt

conform adaptar, pero no significa estar de acuerdo

conveniente adj. suitable, fitting, proper, useful, or advantageous

convenient adj. cómodo, práctico, útil, or accesible

convenir to be in one's interest; to be suitable

convene convocar

crudo adj. raw, cruel

crude adj. bruto, sin pulido

decente adj.1) honest, 2) decent

decent adj. decente; gentil; amable

decepción n. disappointment (verb form: decepcionar = to disappoint)

deception n. un engaño, un fraude

desgracia n. misfortune, mishap, accident, setback, bad luck

disgrace n. deshonra, ignominia

digno adj. worthy

dignified adj. distinguido

disco n. 1) disco, 2) disk, discus, traffic-light, or (audio) record

disco n. disco, discoteca, sala de baile

divisar to discern

devise idear, inventar, hacer con imaginación

editor adj. publishing;
n. publisher, editor

editor n. editor, director, redactor

elaborar to make, to manufacture

elaborate entrar en más detalle

excitar to excite sexually

excite entusiasmar or provocar

excusar to exempt; to excuse (rarely used)


firma n. 1) (commonly) a signature, 2) a firm

firm adj. firme, sólido, duro, seguro;
n. una firma or una empresa

forzoso adj. necessary, obligatory

forced adj. involuntario, forzado

fundir to melt, to smelt

found establecer, fundar

fútbol n. soccer

football n. el fútbol americano

grosería n. (only refers to) rudeness, crudeness, or vulgarity

grocery store n. tienda de abarrotes/comestibles

ignorar v. to not know, to be unaware of

ignore v. no hacer caso de, desatender, or dejar a un lado

informal adj. unreliable (person)

informal adj. sin etiqueta o ceremonia

joven adj. young (person)

juvenile adj. inmaduro

librería n. bookstore

library n. biblioteca

librero n. a bookseller or bookcase

library n. una biblioteca

macro n. picture, door or window frame

mark n. mancha; señal or símbolo escrito; una característica sobresaliente

minorista n. (Caribbean and South American) retail or retail seller

minority n. la minoría;
adj. minoritario

negocio n. a business, deal, or transaction

negotiation n. una negociación

oculto adj. 1) hidden, concealed, or secret, 2) occult

occult adj. oculto or misterioso

ordinario adj. 1) ordinary, common, coarse (in reference to a person);
2) fine or ok, as in answer to ¿Cómo estás?

ordinary adj. normal or corriente

pareja n. couple

pair n. par

patrón n. 1) a boss or owner; 2) a pattern or standard

patron n. patrocinador or cliente

pie n. foot.

pie n. pastel

pila n. small battery; basin


plata n. silver; money

plate n. lámina; plato

presente n. current, present. There is no 'gift' meaning

present n. presente. 'Gift' in Spanish is 'regalo'.

procurar to try and to manage to do something (rarely means to procure)

procure obtener, conseguir

propio adj. one's own; also proper

proper adj. apropiado

red n. network

red n. the color rojo;
adj. rojo

ropa n. clothing

rope n. una cuerda or una soga

suceder to happen or to follow, come next

succeed 1) tener éxito, triunfar; 2) suceder

trato n. treaty, contract, but also social treatment

treatment n. tratamiento

vaso n. a glass or tumbler

vase n. un florero or jarrón

Where to go next?

  1. Download the current page of false Spanish English cognates in PDF

  2. Learn More about Spanish English cognates

  3. Purchase the list of the most common Spanish-English Cognates. (And get a list of 255 false Spanish English cognates as well.)

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