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Learning Cognates to Build Your Vocabulary Quickly

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Cognates are words that have similar form and meaning in two languages. Learning cognates can help language students build their vocabulary in as little time as possible. However, there are true cognates, near cognates, and false cognates and a student should know the difference. In addition, you'll have to learn their pronunciation as they differ most of the times.

Here are some of the true cognates I've learned (there are hundreds in most major languages)


le guide (luh geed)            the guide

la note (lah noht)               the note

l'animal (lah-nee-mahl)     the animal

l'omelette (lohm-leht)        the omelette

l'orange (loh-rahnzh)         the orange


German - English

Banane                               banana

Apfel                                   apple

Buch                                   book

Katze                                 cat

Athlet                                athlete

Kaffee                               coffee

Fieber                               feber

Haar                                 hair


Spanish - English

actor                                 actor

area                                  area

civil                                    civil

explosión                          explosion

enigma                             enigma

hotel                                 hotel

curioso                              curious


Any cognates you can share with your own language or any other languages you are currently learning?

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I am currently learning Spanish, and there are so many words that are similar from Spanish to English! Here are some examples:

anticipación = anticipation

posible = possible

conjugación = conjugation

suprisa = suprise

It's very important to be very careful with cognates though! Once you are very familiar with a language, you might start seeing patterns in the cognates. This might cause you to kind of create your own. Usually, when English students who are using Spanish create cognates, they are correct. However, sometimes they make very large mistakes. For example, a common error is that they use the Spanish word "realizar" for the English term "to realize," though this is a completely incorrect translation. "Realizar" has a translation closer to "to do," and therefore this is a rather large error for students to make. Be careful with cognates!

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