The 15 most popular English - Spanish “false friends” (I bet you don’t know them all)

When we are learning a language and come across a new word, we tend to discover its meaning by associating it with our mother tongue or the languages we already know. Generally, our predictions are correct, but beware! Sometimes, this can play against us. “False friends” are the words that look similar in Spanish and English, but that have a completely different meaning. If you don’t want to be misunderstood or to make a fool of yourself, pay attention to this list and put it in practice in your next conversation.

  1. Actualmente → at present / currently Actually → en realidad Actualmente vivo en Buenos Aires. - En realidad, vivo en Buenos Aires. (Currently I live in Buenos Aires) - (Actually, I live in Buenos Aires)
  2. Chocar → to collide, to hit, to crash To choke → ahogar El automóvil chocó contra un árbol. - Casi me ahogo con mi sandwich. (The car hit a tree) - (I almost choked with my sandwich)
  3. Embarazada → pregnant Embarrassed → avergonzado María está embarazada. - María está avergonzada. (María is pregnant) - (María is embarrassed)
  4. Éxito → success Exit → salida La fiesta fue un éxito. - ¿Dónde está la salida? (the party was a success) - (Where is the exit?)
  5. Grosero → rude grocery → tienda de alimentos Ese hombre es muy grosero. - Voy a la tienda a comprar comida. (That man is very rude) - (I’m going to the grocery to buy food)
  6. Introducir → to enter Introduce → presentar El usuario introdujo una contraseña no válida. - Te presentaré a mi novia. (The user entered an invalid password) - (I’ll introduce you to my girlfriend)
  7. Librería → bookstore Library → biblioteca Necesito comprar un libro en la librería. - Quiero estudiar en la biblioteca. (I need to buy a book in the bookstore) - (I want to study in the library)
  8. Molestar → to bother To molest → acosar sexualmente ¡No me molestes! - Él intentó acosar a la mujer. (Don’t bother me!) - (He tried to molest the woman)
  9. Once → eleven Once → una vez Juan tiene once años. - He estado en Argentina sólo una vez. (Juan is eleven years old) - (I’ve been to Argentina just once)
  10. Pie → foot Pie → Pastel Creo que me duele el pie. - Quiero un pastel. (I think my foot is hurting) - (I want a pie)
  11. Realizar → to perform/to do To realize → darse cuenta de (que) El científico realizó un experimento en su laboratorio. - Me di cuenta de la verdad. (the scientist performed an experiment in his laboratory) - (I realized the truth)
  12. Recordar → to remember To record → Grabar No recuerdo dónde dejé mi teléfono. - Grabé el programa de televisión. (I don’t remember where I left my phone) - (I’ve recorded the TV show)
  13. Sensible → sensitive Sensible → razonable Tengo piel sensible. - Decisiones responsables y razonables. (I have a sensitive skin) - (responsible and sensible choices)
  14. Preservativo → condom Preservative → conservante Siempre usa preservativos. - La comida es natural sin conservante. (Always use condoms) - (The food is without preservatives) Did you already know these words? Do you know some others? I have a challenge for you: use one of these words in a Spanish phrase. Leave a comment and I'll correct you.
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