Common English-Spanish False Friends

Have you ever heard about false friends? If not you are in the right place to learn a new topic that overwhelms students often. If you have heard about them then keep reading we are showing you which ones are the most usually used between Spanish learners.

First, let’s define what are false friends?

Also known as false cognates, they are words that sound the same in English and Spanish, but the two words do NOT have the same meaning. But why? Because Spanish developed from Latin, and English contains many words of Latin-origin. Hence, they share quite a lot of words which have different meanings in their respective languages.

This creates a little trouble for non-native speakers of both languages, so if you are learning English or Spanish, a wrong use of words may be embarrassing. For this reason, it’s worth to take the time to take a closer look at these words.

Here is a list of the most common false friends with translations of the words in Spanish and English:

English word Spanish Translation False friend English meaning
Excited Emocionado Excitado Aroused
Embarrassed Avergonzado Embarazada Pregnant
Library Biblioteca Librería Bookstore
Deception Engaño Decepción Disappointment
Sensible Sensato Sensible Sensitive
Advice Consejo Aviso Warning
To Assist Ayudar Asistir Go to, attend
College Universidad, facultad Colegio School
Contest Concurso Contestar Answer
Disgrace deshonra Desgracia Misfortune

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but are the words we usually hear. What do you think about these false friends? Would you like another article with more false friends? Let us know in the comments.

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Lisa Ramirez Written by:

Graphic Designer, Blog editor, Spanish Teacher.

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