Having leant Spanish for around eleven years now, I have encountered a vast range of what I call false friends. These are words that look similar, sound similar, are spelt in a similar manner, but have completely different meanings. So, I'm going to share with you some false friends that always come up in my lessons.
Everyone has clothes. Not so many people own rope. Spanish for clothes is "ropa," whilst Spanish for rope is "cuerda." If I had a pound for every time a student told me they wore fancy rope on Saturday nights I would be a rich man! I would also be at the forefront of a new fashion craze.
I love ham, especially Serrano ham. It's a delicious treat, and with fresh bread, it's absolutely amazing. What I do not like, however, is jam. Spanish for ham is "jamón," and Spanish for jam is "mermelada." It's easy to confuse the two, but it is especially funny when I get told about jam pizzas. Maybe it's an experiment for Heston Blumenthal?
Finally, to end with my favourite: embarrassed vs. embarazada. The two words do not (I repeat, DO NOT) mean the same thing. Embarrassed is similar to "tener vergüenza," or to feel shame about something. Embarazada means you are pregnant; you are expecting a baby. Hearing stories about embarrassed women having babies sounds a little Victorian to me!
So there you have it! Some Spanish to English false friends I've come across in my classes. I hope you've enjoyed these, and I hope they help you improve your English!