30 Common False Spanish Cognates

Cognates are words in different languages that have the same origin or root. They might be spelled similarly or exactly the same.

Cognates can be incredibly helpful when you’re learning a new language. For example, there are hundreds of Spanish words you already know if you speak English (like animal, cultural, revisión, and social). Learning these as a beginner is a great way to fast track your progress with a new language.

But...beware of false cognates! When you’re conversing with a Spanish speaker, it’s likely you’ll get tripped up a few times by saying words that don't mean what you think they mean. Make sure to learn this list of common ones to avoid confusion.


Looks like: Advertisement
Actually means: Warning

How to say advertisement in Spanish: Anuncio


Looks like: Assist
Actually means: Attend

How to say assist in Spanish: Ayudar


Looks like: Camp
Actually means: Countryside

How to say camp in Spanish: Campamento

Photo by Amos from Stockphotos.com on Unsplash


Looks like: Car
Actually means: Face

How to say car in Spanish: Coche


Looks like: Carpet
Actually means: Folder

How to say carpet in Spanish: Alfombra


Looks like: Code
Actually means: Elbow

How to say code in Spanish: Código


Looks like: Comprehensive
Actually means: Understanding

How to say comprehensive in Spanish: Exhaustivo


Looks like: Constipated
Actually means: Having a cold

How to say constipated in Spanish: Estreñido


Looks like: Contest
Actually means: To answer

How to say contest in Spanish: Concurso


Looks like: Costume
Actually means: Habit

How to say costume in Spanish: Disfraz


Looks like: Disgust
Actually means: Displeasure or misfortune

How to say disgust in Spanish: Asco or repugnancia


Looks like: Embarrassed
Actually means: Pregnant

How to say embarrassed in Spanish: Avergonzado


Looks like: To envy
Actually means: To send

How to say to envy in Spanish: Envidiar


Looks like: Exit
Actually means: Success

How to say exit in Spanish: Salida


Looks like: Fabric
Actually means: Factory

How to say fabric in Spanish: Tela or tejido

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash


Looks like: Injury
Actually means: Insult

How to say injury in Spanish: Herida, lesión


Looks like: To introduce
Actually means: Insert

How to say to introduce in Spanish: Presentar


Looks like: Large
Actually means: Long

How to say large in Spanish: Grande


Looks like: To molest
Actually means: To bother

How to say to molest in Spanish: Agredir


Looks like: Mayor
Actually means: Higher, bigger

How to say mayor in Spanish: Alcalde


Looks like: Man
Actually means: Hand

How to say man in Spanish: Hombre


Looks like: Number
Actually means: Name

How to say number in Spanish: Número


Looks like: Parent
Actually means: Relative

How to say parent in Spanish: Padre, Madre


Looks like: To realize
Actually means: Perform

How to say to realize in Spanish: Darse cuenta


Looks like: To record
Actually means: To remember

How to say to record in Spanish: Grabar, registrar


Looks like: To remove
Actually means: To stir

How to say to remove in Spanish: Eliminar, quitar


Looks like: Sensible
Actually means: Sensitive

How to say sensible in Spanish: Sensato


Looks like: Sin
Actually means: Without

How to say sin in Spanish: Pecado


Looks like: Soap
Actually means: Soup

How to say soup in Spanish: Jabón


Looks like: To vacuum
Actually means: To vaccinate

How to say to vacuum in Spanish: Aspirar

We haven't listed every false cognate here (there are many), but start with these and you should avoid a lot of confusing moments. Buena suerte!