Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

False Language Friends - Spanish: me despierto et al

"Cognates" are words that have the same language root and often they have the same or a similar meaning. Word pairs that look like they have the same root, but have a different meaning, are called "false cognates" or "false friends." Below are six Spanish examples (for speakers of English):

me despierto: I wake up  

Not: I'm desperate (Spanish: estoy desesperado)    

Mañana tengo que despertarme temprano para tomar el tren a Granada.

(Tomorrow, I need to wake up early to take the train to Granada.)

éxito: hit (success)

Not: exit (Spanish: salida)

Este nuevo tour se está convirtiendo en un éxito para los turistas que visitan Sevilla. 

(This new tour is becoming a hit among tourists visiting Seville.) 

pretender: to try

Not: to pretend (Spanish: fingir)

Pretendemos lanzar la campaña “Visita España” la próxima primavera. 

(We will be trying to launch the “Visit Spain” campaign next spring.) 

recordar: to remember

Not: to record (Spanish: grabar)

Recuerde abrocharse siempre el cinturón de seguridad. 

(Always remember to fasten your seat belt.)  

ropa: clothing

Not: rope (Spanish: cuerda)

Es conveniente ponerse ropa de abrigo al visitar Granada en invierno.

(It's advisable to wear thick clothing when visiting Granada in winter.) 

contestar: to answer

Not: to contest [a decision] (Spanish: protestar contra)

¿Podrías contestar al teléfono por favor? 

(Could you please answer the phone?)