Are There Words That Are the Same in English and Spanish? | Newsdle

Are There Words That Are the Same in English and Spanish?


One of the most recurrent comment students make about learning Spanish is how difficult it is because it is very different from English, making the process of vocabulary growth time-consuming and affecting fluency and confidence. 

This situation might actually be true, but to some extent. 

In fact, there are many words that are the same in English and Spanish, and we may even find Spanish words that sound like English! 

These terms are formally known as "cognates," and they hold the key to a more enjoyable language-learning experience since they provide a practical and time-saving strategy to boosting your Spanish vocabulary.  

Imagine effortlessly absorbing the core of a new language by detecting familiar phrases! 

Today’s mission is clear: to explore Spanish-English cognates and provide a valuable resource hub for both teachers and students.  

So buckle up and get ready!  

Some Examples of Identical Spanish-English Cognates 

First things first, a little bit of history because evolution doesn’t happen overnight! 

Cognates, or words that are the same in different languages, trace their origins back to the Proto-Indo-European language. 

This ancient language, spoken more than 5,000 years ago, serves as the common linguistic ancestor for various modern languages, including both English and Spanish. 

As time unfolded, linguistic evolution occurred, leading to the development of distinct languages across different regions. Yet, it left behind some traces. 

So, what exactly are these words? 

Here's a list of the most popular terms that have the same spelling and that sound quite the same: 

   1. Actor

Spanish: El actor principal recibió un premio por su actuación. 

English: The lead actor received an award for his performance. 

   2. Animal

Spanish:Mi animal favorito es el perro.  

English: My favourite animal is the dog. 

   3. Doctor

Spanish: El doctor revisó la herida y recetó medicamentos. 

English: The doctor examined the wound and prescribed medication. 

   4. Email

Spanish: Enviaré la información por email. 

English: I will send the information by email. 

Important note! The official Spanish word for “email” is correo electrónico which is still the preferred written option. However and despite the regional variants, “email” is now widely used and understood in spoken Spanish. 

   5. Hospital

Spanish: Llevamos a la paciente al hospital de inmediato. 

English: We took the patient to the hospital immediately. 

   6. Hotel

Spanish: El hotel está cerca de la playa. 

English: The hotel is close to the beach. 

   7. Internet

Spanish: Necesito internet para trabajar. 

English: I need the internet to work. 

   8. Radio

Spanish: Escuchamos música en la radio durante el viaje. 

English: We listened to music on the radio during the trip. 

   9. Taxi

Spanish: Tomamos un taxi para llegar al aeropuerto a tiempo. 

English: We took a taxi to get to the airport on time. 

   10. Televisión (Television) 

Spanish: Estoy viendo la televisión. 

English: I'm watching television. 

There are also words which spelling is the same in English and Spanish, but their pronunciation is a little different, such as: 

   11. Chocolate

Spanish: Me encanta el chocolate. 

English: I love chocolate. 

The word "chocolate" in Spanish is pronounced as "cho-coh-lah-te."  
Pay attention to the "ch" sound, which is similar to the English "ch" in "cheese" but a bit softer. The stress is on the second syllable, so it's "cho-co-LAH-te." 

   12. Digital

Spanish: La revolución digital ha cambiado nuestras vidas. 

English: The digital revolution has changed our lives. 

In Spanish, "digital" is pronounced as "dee-hee-tal."  

The "di" sounds like "dee," the "gi" is pronounced like the English "hee," and the stress is on the second syllable, so it's "dee-hee-TAL." 

   13. Original

Spanish: La obra de arte es original. 

English: The artwork is original. 

The word "original" in Spanish is pronounced as "o-ree-hee-nal." 

The "o" sounds like the English "o" in "go," the "ri" is a rolled or tapped "r," the "gi" sounds like the English "hee," and the stress is on the third syllable, so it's "o-ree-hee-NAL." 

Cognates and Vocabulary Boost 101: Flex Those Suffixes! 

There is one thing that can help you grow your cognates, and that is suffixes. 

Through the process of converting English suffixes into Spanish and paying close attention to pronunciation, you may create hundreds of new words and greatly expand your vocabulary! 

Here are some helpful tricks to remember how different cognates might be formed.  

Please take them with a pitch of salt because, while this usually works, exceptions and false friends are always around the corner ready for an ambush! 

   1. ous → -oso  

    • Famous → Famoso 
    • Delicious → Delicioso 
    • Curious → Curioso 
    • Generous → Generoso 
    • Spontaneous → Espontáneo 

   2. -al  

    • Central → Central 
    • Original → Original 
    • Tropical → Tropical 
    • Natural → Natural 
    • Special → Especial

   3. -ance → -ancia

    • Tollerance → Tolerancia 
    • Resistance → Resistencia 
    • Importance → Importancia 
    • Distance → Distancia 
    • Elegance → Elegancia 

   4. -ct → -cto: 

    • Act → Acto 
    • Impact → Impacto  
    • Direct → Directo 
    • Correct → Correcto 
    • Perfect → Perfecto 

   5. -ic → -ico: 

    • Logic → Lógico 
    • Economic → Económico 
    • Basic → Básico 
    • Specific → Específico 
    • Electric → Eléctrico 

   6. -ary → -ario: 

    • Dictionary → Diccionario 
    • Stationary → Estacionario 
    • Visionary → Visionario 
    • Revolutionary → Revolucionario 
    • Necessary → Necesario 

   7. -ment → -mento: 

    • Document → Documento 
    • Argument → Argumento 
    • Development → Desarrollo 
    • Experiment → Experimento 
    • Movement → Movimiento 

   8. -ant → -ante: 

    • Vibrant → Vibrante 
    • Participant → Participante
    • Elegant → Elegante
    • Constant → Constante
    • Brilliant → Brillante 

   9. -ence → -encia: 

    • Difference → Diferencia 
    • Presence → Presencia 
    • Existence → Existencia 
    • Independence → Independencia 
    • Essence → Esencia 

   10. -ble: 

    • Flexible → Flexible 
    • Responsible → Responsable 
    • Possible → Posible 
    • Visible → Visible 
    • Terrible → Terrible  

   11. -ar: 

    • Collar → Collar 
    • Solar → Solar 
    • Popular → Popular
    • Familiar → Familiar
    • Regular → Regular 

   12. -id → -ido: 

    • Intrepid → Intrepido 
    • Fluid → Fluido 
    • Hybrid → Híbrido 
    • Rapid → Rápido 
    • Stupid → Estúpido 

Beware of false friends! 

Despite the great amount of Spanish words that are like in English, there are grammatical traps known as "false friends." 

These are words that may look or sound similar in both languages but have distinct meanings. Falling into the false friend trap can lead to amusing or confusing situations for language learners.

For example: 

   1. Actual vs.  Actual 

  • Spanish: "Esta es la situación actual del país."  

  This is the current situation of the country. 

  • English: "The actual cost was higher than we expected."  

  The real cost was higher than we expected. 

   2. Café vs.  Café 

Spanish: Tomamos un café en la cafetería del centro. 

English: We had a coffee at the downtown café. 

   3. Embarazada vs.  Embarrassed 

  • Spanish: "Ella está embarazada y espera un bebé."  

She is pregnant and expecting a baby. 

  • English: "He felt embarrassed when he realised he was in the wrong meeting."  

                     He felt self-conscious when he realised he was in the wrong meeting. 

   4. Librería vs.  Library 

  • Spanish: "Voy a la librería para comprar algunos libros."  

  I'm going to the bookstore to buy some books. 

  • English: "I spent the afternoon at the library studying for my exams."  

     [...] the place where books are borrowed for my exams. 

   5. Constipado vs. Constipated 

  • Spanish: "Me siento constipado, creo que me estoy resfriando."  
    I feel under the weather; I think I'm catching a cold. 
  • English: "He avoided eating certain foods to relieve his constipation."  

            He avoided eating certain foods to relieve his difficulty passing stool. 

   6. Molestar vs.  Molest 

  • Spanish: "Perdona si te molesto, no era mi intención." 

      I'm sorry if I bother you; it wasn't my intention. 

  • English: "She filed a complaint against her coworker for molesting her."  

     She filed a complaint against her coworker for harassing her. 

It is extremely important for learners to be aware of these false friends in order to appropriately face any linguistic and daily situation.  

While cognates are a great way to extend your vocabulary, being aware of possible false friends ensures that communication is smooth and free of misunderstandings.  

Keep an eye out for these misleading linguistic doppelgängers as you discover the universe of words that are the same in English and Spanish! 

Cognates and Pronunciation Excellence: Bridging the Gap 

Cognates, or words that are the same in English and Spanish, may look familiar, but their pronunciation can hold surprises.  

One common area of focus is vowel sounds.  

For instance, the English "a" might sound different from its Spanish counterpart.  

Additionally, attention to the rhythm, stress, and melodious roll of certain consonants, such as 'r,' contributes to authentic pronunciation. 

Practical Tips for Accurate Cognate Pronunciation: 

  • Phonetic comparisons: Use online resources that provide phonetic comparisons of English and Spanish cognates. This allows you to pinpoint differences in pronunciation and refine your articulation. 
  • Listen and repeat: Immerse yourself in Spanish audio, focusing on cognate-rich content. Listen actively and repeat phrases, honing in on the specific sounds that differ from English. 
  • Slow and steady wins: Begin with a deliberate, slower pace when practising pronunciation. Gradually increase speed as you gain confidence. This helps in mastering the nuances without sacrificing accuracy. 
  • Cognate pronunciation drills: Create or use this list of cognates and turn them into pronunciation drills. Repeat them regularly to build muscle memory for the correct sounds. 
  • Minimal Pairs: Identify minimal pairs—cognates that differ by only one sound. Practise distinguishing and pronouncing these subtle variations. 
  • Sentence Emphasis Challenge: Take sentences with cognates and experiment with different points of emphasis. This not only improves pronunciation but also enhances your overall Spanish speech rhythm. 
  • Native Speaker Mimicry: Choose a native Spanish speaker, be it from movies, podcasts, or language learning apps, and mimic their pronunciation. This hands-on approach helps you internalise correct sounds. 

Riding the Cognate Wave 

So, there you have it! 

Cognates, the unsung heroes of language learning, make the whole process a bit like a cheat code for both teachers and students. 

Quick Recap of Cognate Wins

Using identical cognates is like having a secret language shortcut. It's not just about saying Spanish words that sound English; it's a nifty way to expand your Spanish vocabulary faster. Plus, it's like finding old friends in a new language—hello there, familiar words! 

Speedy Growth for Everyone

Teachers, spice up your lessons with cognates; they're the spice rack of language education. And for students, it's like a turbo boost for your Spanish skills. You're not just learning; you're practically sprinting towards language mastery. How cool is that? 

Keep the Cognate Party Going

Let's not make this the end of the road. Keep exploring, keep chatting, and maybe even form a 'Cognate Appreciation Club"—who knows? Learning is more fun when you're not doing it alone. So, high-five to more cognate adventures, and cheers to the growing community of language enthusiasts. You got this! 


Fabia Parodi

Fabia Parodi  

Fascinated by foreign languages and cultures, Fabia Parodi was determined to be a polyglot since she was a child. Fluent in Italian, English, French and Spanish and competent in Mandarin Chinese, Fabia is an experienced language teacher, translator and multicultural marketing specialist. 

When in class, she always make sure to include graded and authentic materials in her lessons to expose students to foreign cultures and to introduce a more natural use of the language they are learning. The two things she loves more than languages are travelling and exchanging stories with people from all over the world. 

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