Spanish False Friends

Spanish False Friends: Similar sounding, Different Meaning

Spanish English False Friends: Words that sound similar in Spanish and English and yet have very different meanings.

Some words in the Spanish and English languages sound so similar that one may think that they have the same meaning.

Usually they do not have the same meaning and as these words can cause confusion they are known as false friends.

Let’s consider a few examples:

Is pregnancy embarrassing?

A woman was pregnant with her first child and a Spanish acquaintance who was studying English asked the woman’s husband:

“Is you wife embarrassed“?

The husband using his sense of humour replied in all seriousness:

“No, only when she is seen with me”.

The Spanish word for pregnant is “embarazada“.

So let’s not undervalue the importance of knowing our false friends, they can help us to avoid embarrassing situations like these!

Deliberate use of similar words to falsify information

Sometimes people can deliberately use Spanish English false friends to falsify the facts.

Sadly we have seen cases of Spanish people deliberately translating their CV’s incorrectly to give the impression that they have achieved more than is really the case.

One example is the confusion over the use of the word “give”.

Giving is not quite the same as receiving but actually in Spanish sometimes it can be.

If you want to say in Spanish that you receive classes at an academy you can say:
Tomo clases en la academia”.
This means “I take classes at the academy”.
But in Spanish you can also say:
Doy clases en la academia”.

This is ambiguous as it means both to give classes and to take classes.

In Spain the context will provide clarification.

We have seen cases of Spanish CV’s that have chosen to translate the word “doy” as give which of course it is but only a real knowledge of the Spanish culture will reveal that in fact the person in question took classes.

Much the same happens with the word “asistir”.
This means to attend or to participate. It does not mean to assist.

Hence “asisto a clases de apoyo” does not mean “I am an assistant for support clases”.

It means “I go to support classes”.

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