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False cognates

False cognates

Once upon a time, I told my Spanish roommates that American food is full of condoms.Was it totally embarrassing? Yes. Did I learn from it? Oh, you bet I did.When learning a foreign language, making a fool of yourself from time to time is inevitable.However, by learning about false cognates you can save yourself from making huge Spanish slip-ups!I bet if we polled a room full of seasoned Spanish language learners, 9 out of 10 will say they’ve had people laugh at them after messing up with one of the false cognates discussed below. Everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t matter how much you practice with your language conversation partners or if you already feel completely immersed in the Spanish language.You’re gonna accidentally say silly things, and that’s an important part of the experience.Learning a new language is sometimes like feeling your way blindfolded through a minefield. What you assume to be safe ground could easily blow up in your face. With this lovely imagery in mind, you can probably see why it’s a good idea to learn about common mistakes before you make them. Take a few moments, explore this post and get to know Spanish false cognates a little bit better.A cognate is a word that is basically written the same, with the same meaning, in both languages. For instance, the English word “sofa” is “el sofá” in Spanish. The same goes for the English words “idea,” “family,” “minute,” “restaurant,” and countless others.Sometimes, a word only seems to be the same in both languages, but really has two completely different meanings. These are what we call false cognates, and they’re out there lurking just below the surface, waiting for unsuspecting students to amble by and pluck them up by accident.What it looks like: EmbarrassedWhat it means: Pregnant.Using the word embarazada incorrectly could leave you, well… embarrassed. There are a few different ways of saying “embarrassed” depending on the dialect, but what I usually go for is tener vergüenza. It literally means, “to have shame,” but it does the same job.What it looks like: ExitWhat it means: SuccessIf you were to ask someone where you can find the éxito you might be in for a bit of a philosophical reply. Instead, look for the signs marked salida, and get on with your day. To make things even more confusing, the word suceso in Spanish means “event” or “something that happens.”What it looks like: MolestWhat it means: To annoyThis one does take a while to get used to actually saying out loud, but it’s important to know. You don’t want to get the wrong impression from someone complaining that their boss “molested” them all day in the office. You might want to know that the true translation of  “molest” is abusar (sexualmente).What it looks like: ConstipationWhat it means: A cold.Be sure you get this one right before calling in sick to work, otherwise you might accidentally be giving your co-workers a bit too much information. If you are actually constipated, the word for constipation is estreñimiento, but you might still want to keep that to yourself.What it looks like: FabricWhat it means: FactoryAs much as I’d like to wear a shirt that’s made of factories, I don’t think it sounds very practical. Instead, just opt for one made of tela like everyone else, it’s probably much cooler and more environmentally friendly.What it looks like: SoapWhat it means: SoupMaintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, and many people are making an effort to clean up their eating habits, but ordering soap in a restaurant might be taking it a bit too far. If you need soap, the word is jabón, not to be confused with jamón, which is “ham” and perfectly fine to order.What it looks like: RealizeWhat it means: To do/ to performIf you want to say that you realized something in Spanish, the way to do it is to say, “Me di cuenta…” Realizar means “to do” or “to perform.” For instance, “You realized your plan to take over the world.” It’s kind of like the word “execute” in English.What it looks like: PieWhat it means: FootEven though the two are spelled the same, there is a difference in pronunciation. In Spanish, pie is pronounced “pee-eh” and means “foot.” Two feet are dos pies, pronounced, “pee-ehs.” Something I always found funny is that the translation for “toes” is dedos del pie. Literally, “fingers of the foot.” If you want an actual pie, you should order un pastel. In many regions, the English word for the dessert pie has been adopted directly and is said in a pseudo-English accent. Keep this in mind while exploring delicious Hispanic cuisine.What it looks like: IntroduceWhat it means: InsertIntroductions are sometimes awkward enough without telling your friends that you’d like to insert them into each other. A correct introduction for your friends would be, “Quiero presentarte a mi amigo [Miguel].” No insertion necessary.What it looks like: RecordWhat it means: To Remember/To RemindTo remember something is recordar. To remind someone of something is recordarse. In a sentence, “Recuérdame mañana que necesito grabar el capítulo nuevo de Juego de Tronos.” Literally, “Remind me tomorrow that I need to record the new episode of Game of Thrones.” Hint: Grabar means “to record.”What it looks like: RopeWhat it means: ClothesRopa actually shares a root with the English word “robe,” so it’s easier to remember. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that Cuban ropa vieja is actually made of old clothes. It’s actually a very tasty dish of shredded beef, usually served with rice. Actual “rope” is called cuerda or soga in Spanish.What it looks like: ActualWhat it means: CurrentThis is a confusing one for beginners as the words are identical, but have slightly different meanings. Actual in Spanish means “current” as in eventos actuales, or “current events.” If you want to say “actual,” use the word real. “Actually” would translate to en realidad, and is a quite common expression.What it looks like: To assistWhat it means: To attendThis one has the potential to set your head spinning. Asistir means “to attend” as you would do to a meeting or lecture. Atender means to “pay attention.” So, you can asistir a meeting in order to atender. The word for “to help” is ayudar, and the noun “help” is ayuda. Always a good one to keep in mind.What it looks like: DelightWhat it means: CrimeWhatever you do, don’t say “es un delito conocerte.” That means “It’s a crime to meet you,” and probably won’t make you very many friends. “Delight” translates to deleite, but in the previous example it’s better to say “es un placer conocerte.“ Placer means “pleasure.”What it looks like: ChokeWhat it means: To hit/punchChocar is what happens when two cars run into each other or two people get into a scuffle. It means “to hit” or “to clash,” not “to choke.” In Spanish, “to choke” is ahogarse if you mean that you’re choking on food or drowning. Estrangular is when a person chokes another person.What it looks like: To contestWhat it means: To answerThis seemingly strange translation actually makes sense when you think about it. In English, the word “contest” is used when you must answer an argument in court. So it’s easy to see how it could have some relation to the Spanish word contestar, which means “to answer” a question or a telephone. However, in court you would use the Spanish word impugnar to contest a verdict.What it looks like: LargeWhat it means: LongThis is an easy one to mix up when you’re a beginner because the two meanings are so similar. However, largo is only used to refer to length, whereas grande is used to refer to overall size. So something could be both largo and grande, or just one or the other.What it looks like: RapistWhat it means: Barber or ShaverThis actually isn’t a very common word, but still good to know. Rapista doesn’t mean “rapist” but actually means “barber” or more precisely, “a shaver” from the word rapar meaning “to shave” or “to crop.” However, a more common word for “barber” is barbero or peluquero. The word for “rapist” is violador.What it looks like: To envyWhat it means: To sendFar from being one of the 7 deadly sins, enviar simply means “to send.” You can “enviar” a letter, a package, or an email, but you can’t “enviar” your friends (well, I guess you could, but you should punch holes in the box). If someone has something you wish you had, you can tener celos (to have jealousy) or envidiar (to envy) them.What it looks like: PreservativeWhat it means: CondomSo here’s the one that got me in trouble. What we call preservatives in English are called conservantes in Spanish. The word preservativo refers to condoms. You can also say condón, but just don’t say that they’re in your food or your roommates might tease you for an entire semester.So there you go, if you can remember these 20 false Spanish cognates you’ll be able to avoid quite a few mix-ups.If you want to practice, I suggest using news sources to learn Spanish to see if you can pick out any of these false cognates.Another great route to go down is using FluentU. FluentU is designed to help you make leaps and bounds in your Spanish learning progress through real world videos. FluentU takes music videos, commercials, movie trailers, and inspiring talks, and turns them into memorable language learning experiences. What better way to pick up on false cognates?If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Spanish with real-world videos.Experience Spanish immersion online!FluentU brings Spanish to life with real-world videos. Learning Spanish becomes fun and easy when you learn with movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks.FTC Disclosure FluentU is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We also participate in other affiliate advertising programs for products and services we believe in. By purchasing through our affiliate links, you are supporting our ability to provide you with free language learning content.© 2017 FluentFlix Limited. All Rights Reserved.



Welcome to Vol. 32 of the Spanish Online Newsletter! Your weekly Spanish learning with mp3s, as well as links to Spanish travel spots and more. This week we take a quick look at cognates, or words that are similar across various languages. From the Cielito Lindo Grammar ChapterCognates are words that are easy to translate and recognize in English. You can apply these formulas to many other English words to find their equivalents in Spanish:Click to hear an mp3 Worksheet/Activity: Spanish Cognates Quiz: Spanish Cognates Go to Spanish Online Learning MenuIguazu Falls, Argentina & BrazilWhile the Brazilian side of these majestic falls offers more of the panoramic views, visitors can get under the falls on the Argentine side. Part of the Iguazu Park also lies in Paraguay, but most visitors go through one of the other 2 countries. While taking in the sights, you might like to bring a Brazilian phrasebook to practice your Portuguese as well as your Spanish!   ORDERCollins Spanish Talking Dictionary CD-rom for PC Over 80,000 words and phrases and more than 120,000 translations, and incorporates audio sound samples throughout. Regularly $19.99, Newsletter price $15.99 Read More.. Newsletter ARCHIVES:1611162126312 712 17 22273 8131823284 914 192429510 15 202530  © Spanish Online, 2003 Newsletter Volume 32, 9/06/03





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