Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

False Language Friends - Spanish: me despierto et al

"Cognates" are words that have the same language root and often 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):

1. me despierto: I wake up 

Not: I'm desperate (Spanish: estoy desesperado)
Example: Mañana tengo que despertarme temprano para tomar el tren a Granada.
Translation: Tomorrow, I need to wake up early to take the train to Granada.

2. éxito: hit (success)

Not: exit (Spanish: salida)
Example: Este nuevo tour se está convirtiendo en un éxito para los turistas que visitan Sevilla.
Translation: This new tour is becoming a hit among tourists visiting Seville.

3. pretender: to try

Not: to pretend (Spanish: fingir)
Example: Pretendemos lanzar la campaña “Visita España” la próxima primavera.
Translation: We will be trying to launch the “Visit Spain” campaign next spring.

4. recordar: to remember

Not: to record (Spanish: grabar)
Example: Recuerde abrocharse siempre el cinturón de seguridad.
Translation: Always remember to fasten your seat belt. 

5. ropa: clothing

Not: rope (Spanish: cuerda)

Example: Es conveniente ponerse ropa de abrigo al visitar Granada en invierno.
Translation: It's advisable to wear thick clothing when visiting Granada in winter.

6. contestar: to answer

Not: to contest [a decision] (Spanish: protestar contra)
Example: ¿Podrías contestar al teléfono por favor?
Translation: Could you please answer the phone?)