🤔👉5 confusing false friends in Spanish-English

learning strategies Apr 22, 2022

Most Spanish words that look the same (or very similar) in English are in fact very close in meaning. They’re called “cognates”. And when you’re learning another language, it is very uplifting to hear a new word and think… “YES! I know this” 😃

However, occasionally we come across words that look almost identical, but have a completely different meaning!

These words are called “false friends”. And today I’m bringing you five of the most confusing ones for intermediate learners. Mastering these will help you speak Spanish more confidently 👏👏👏


Actual vs. Actual

Sp. Actual - current, present day (Ex. Una noticia actual - Current news) 

En. Actual in Spanish is “real, verdadero” (Ex. el coste real - The actual cost)


Realizar vs. Realise

Sp. Realizar - “perform, make, do, carry out” (Ex. Ejercicios fáciles de realizar - Easy to perform exercises”)

En. Realise is “darse cuenta” (Acabo de darme cuenta que no he comprado leche - I’ve just realised I haven’t bought milk)


Soportar vs. Support

Sp. Soportar - “bear, put up with” (Ex. No soporto el frío - I can’t bear the cold)

En. Support -  “apoyar” - (Ex. Estamos aquí para apoyarte - We’re here to support you”)


Fábrica vs. Fabric

Sp. Fábrica - “factory” (Ex. Fábrica de quesos - Cheese factory)

En. Fabric - “tela” (Ex. Telas naturales - Natural fabrics)


Compromiso vs. Compromise

Sp. Compromiso - “commitment” (Ex. el compromiso y la dedicación profesional - the commitment and professional dedication)

En. Compromise - “ceder/la solución intermedia” (Quizá tengas que ceder un poco - You might have to compromise a little)


👉Fun fact: According to cognates.org, there are 25,000 frequently used English words that are unmistakably understood by Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan speakers, among others because of their shared origin. And, equally these words in those languages would be recognised and understood by English speakers.


25,000 thousands Spanish words that you have at reach!!!!


Of course you need to watch out for the odd ones out as we’ve just seen and remember to use them correctly. Once you make a conscious mental note that these two words “are not friends” your brain will remember it. 

But my advice is to have fun looking for the similar ones and using them as soon as you can as it will help you speak Spanish more confidently.

The proportion of false friends compared to the “real friends” is tiny and the prospects of expanding your Spanish vocabulary by looking at similar words or cognates… huge! 

Feliz día,


More Resources:

👉How to learn hundreds of Spanish words immediately

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