Learning Spanish Vocabulary is hard? It doesn't have to be!

If you are learning a second language, especially the Spanish language, it is often tough to learn new words, right? No matter how much you study, it seems the lists of words are endless. Furthermore, you have to know a considerable amount of words to reach a conversational level in the Spanish language.

Today, I have something just for you, my fellow Spanish learner, which will make your day! If you are a native English speaker, or if Spanish is the third language you are learning, then you don’t have to spend much time learning new words. The reason for this is because English and Spanish have many words which are written the same way and have the same meaning. In other words, you already know many more words than you realize!

Okay, that’s enough small talk. Let’s get down to business!

Something that you should know, which can help you enormously to learn Spanish quickly, is the existence of English to Spanish Cognates.

What is a cognate?
In short, cognates are words that have the same etymological origin. They are words in one language that look a lot like words in another language and share the common root from an old language such as Latin.

Let’s start by discussing Perfect Cognates.
These are words that are spelled the same in both English and Spanish, and they mean the same thing, but their pronunciation is different. Some examples are:

English > Spanish
Animal > Animal
Doctor > Doctor
Ideal > Ideal

Also, we have Near-perfect Cognates.
These are words that have the same meaning in both English and Spanish, but instead of having the same spelling, they only look similar. Some examples are:

English > Spanish
Action > AcciĂłn
Attention > AtenciĂłn
Condition > CondiciĂłn

Now, this is excellent news for Spanish learners who already know English! As they don’t have to spend countless hours learning new words because they probably already know many more words in Spanish than they believe!

However, they must also be cautious as there are some words which are very similar in both languages but mean entirely different things. These words are called False cognates (also known as false friends). These “false friends” or “amigos falsos” deliberately lie in wait to trip you up on your language learning journey.

They are words that are spelled the same way or are similar but mean completely different things. For example, the false friend “embarazada,” which doesn’t mean “embarrassed,” but “pregnant.”

Other false friends include:

• Librería and library

You could go to either one of these places to pick up books. The difference is that one of them is for-profit (bookstore), and the other is more philanthropic (library).

Librería — Bookstore
Biblioteca — Library

• Constipado and constipated

While they both indicate a lack of health, they refer to very different conditions. Not knowing the difference could be disastrous!

Constipado — to have a cold
Estreñido — constipated

In short, it will be easier to learn the Spanish language if you compare similar words in both languages and check if they have the same meaning or not. Don’t worry if you make mistakes while learning cognates, though. In Chatterbug, we have many outstanding Spanish tutors that can help you use the correct words. If you practice using some of these cognates during your Live lessons, then you will undoubtedly obtain incredible results for your Spanish in very little time.

Now go out there and begin using this newfound knowledge with your favorite tutor! You will see how good your Spanish becomes, even if you are still at an elementary level.

If you want to know more about cognates and, especially, find a complete list of them, you can refer to the following links:

https://www.realfastspanish.com/vocabulary/spanish-cognates

4 Likes

Great detailed write up @Hikari2220! I am not currently learning Spanish, but when I do start, this will be super helpful!

I am glad you liked it, Megan! I hope it can help many students who are just starting to learn the Spanish language!

1 Like