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False friends between Spanish and English

False friend

Imagine you have a friend who astonishes you every day, but not always positively.

One day, he brings you your favorite dessert, but the day after, makes you trip when you do not expect it. It is annoying, isn’t it?

In the world of languages these particular types of friendship are common, and their name is “false friend”. Before you start your trip in the world of the “false friend” between Spanish and English, I recommend you fasten your seatbelt to be safe linguistically and prepared for a motivational route.

What are “false friends”?

We intend two words that are written or spelled similarly in two different languages, anyway, they do not share the same meaning. Even if they look familiar, they can cause you problems if you do not use them correctly.


The danger of “false friends”

Both the beauty and complexity of languages are consequences of their capability to express an infinite number of ideas and emotions.

Nevertheless, if some word’s appearance fools you, you will face embarrassing situations or even more offensive ones. That is the case in which “false friends” between Spanish and English can be a trap or, on the contrary, a treasure for those who know them.


Example of “false friends” between Spanish and English

To learn means to prevent. Look at some of the more common and sometimes innocent “false friends” between Spanish and English:

  • “Embarazada”: it looks like “embarrassed” anyway, it means “pregnant” in English.  Be careful, it should create awkward situations.
  • “Fábrica”: It is spelled as “fabric” but its correct translation is “factory”. The English word for “fábrica” is “materia”.
  • “Ropa”: you could confuse it with “rope” but “ropa” means “clothes” in English.
  • “Carpeta”: No, it does not mean “carpet” but “folder”.


Frequently asked questions

How can you avoid the use of “false friends” when learning a new language?

The best way to avoid them is to familiarize yourself with the most common ones and use them in a real-life context. In addition, always having a dictionary handy is helpful.

Are there “false friends” in all languages?

In most cases, yes, especially among those that share historical roots or linguistic influences. .

Is there a foolproof method for identifying “false friends”?

Unfortunately, no. Recognizing “false friends” presupposes knowing both languages well and being alert to possible misunderstandings.


“False friends” between Spanish and English can be challenges, but they are still part of the process of learning a language. That said, the next time you encounter a “false friend,” don’t get upset.

Have a laugh, learn, and continue on your way. After all, what would life be without surprises?

If you want to learn how to distinguish fake friends from real ones, we are waiting for you at iNMSOL, to help you with one of our Spanish courses.

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