• False Friends: Spanish and English False Cognates

    One of the more difficult things that many Spanish speakers have while learning English is that there are many words that look and sound similar but have different meanings. We call these false friends or amigos malos. Learning English can be tough from the pronunciation to the grammar but false friends are not that difficult to memorize so that you don’t make a mistake. The funniest example is: embarrassed in English sounds similar to embarazada in Spanish. If you tell someone in South America that you are embarrassed they will probably congratulate you and ask when you are due to have your baby. On the other hand if you tell someone that you are embarazada in the US or Canada they will probably ask why and ask if you are uncomfortable because embarrassed in English means that you feel awkward, dumb, self conscious, (verguenza).

    So below are a list of False friends that are commonly used incorrectly:

    Actual-means real NOT current

    • Example: The actual cost of the purse was much lower than the price tag.

    Particular-means special NOT private

    • You can not discriminate against a particular group of people.

    Familiar-well known NOT relative

    • I’m very familiar with the NorthWestern part of the United States, I’ve lived there for many years.

    Casual-relaxed NOT by chance

    • The restaurant does not require formal clothing, casual clothes are fine.

    Casualty-victim NOT by chance

    • The war had many casualties.

    Soap-to wash your hands NOT to eat with a spoon like soup

    • We need dish soap for washing the dishes.

    Jam-is sweet and sometimes made from strawberries NOT ham which comes from cured pig meat

    • My favorite jam is raspberry.

    Compromise-an agreement or settlement NOT being engaged

    • My children are learning to compromise with each other by sharing and working out disagreements.

    Support-to give assistance NOT unbearable (unsopportable-doesn’t exist)

    • I gave her all the support she needed when her mother passed away.

    Molest-is generally used for sexual abuse or hurting someone in a sexual manner NOT to bother someone.

    • Henry Weinstein the hollywood producers is accused of molesting several young actresses.

    Here Are The Best Tips For English Fluency:

    When you want to say: all the day/all the year change it to the whole day or the entire year.

    • I was at the doctor’s office for the whole day!

    When you say take decisions you should say make decisions.

    • I need to make a decision about her birthday gift.

    Remember breakfast/lunch/dinner are not verbs so you must say have or eat breakfast/lunch/dinner.

    • What time do you normally eat breakfast? We eat lunch around noon. In Argentina they have dinner at 10PM!

    We talk in third person a lot for example: When at a restaurant and they ask how many people for the table you should say: There are four NOT we are four.

    • There are five of us 4 adults and one child.

    We talk in third person on the phone: We say this is Teauna not I am Teauna.

    • Hello! This is Teauna speaking, can I help you?