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What are some examples you know of false cognates that are important to get straight? False cognates are words that sound like words in English but they do not mean the same thing.

Some that always used to trip me up:

costumbre (custom, not costume)

personaje (character, not person)

sopa (soup, not soap)

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In German:

aktuell - actually (aktuell refers to something that is happening at the moment (current affairs)

machen - make (basic usage is the same, however there are a lot of nuances)

müssen - must (basic usage is the same, however there are a lot of nuances)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Embarazad@ (It's not Embarrassed, it means pregnant. "Avergonzad@" is for shame-induced one)

Carpeta (means 'folder', not carpet... alfombra is the one you vacuum)

I'll share more if/when I can think of them. :)

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

Embarazad@ (It's not Embarrassed, it means pregnant. "Avergonzad@" is for shame-induced one)

Carpeta (means 'folder', not carpet... alfombra is the one you vacuum)

I'll share more if/when I can think of them. :)

Lol, I've said I was pregnant lots of times before learning that.  :smile:

Another really good one to know is actualmente .

This doesn't mean "actually," it means at this moment, or right now.

Instead, use de verdad or something with verdad in it. This bit me so many times in Spanish classes.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Embarazad@ (It's not Embarrassed, it means pregnant. "Avergonzad@" is for shame-induced one)

Carpeta (means 'folder', not carpet... alfombra is the one you vacuum)

I'll share more if/when I can think of them. :)

Jeez, I had the problem backwards when I was younger, since I learned Spanish first... I saw the word "embarrassed" in a video game and thought it meant pregnant! It wasn't until I repeated the same scene a few times that I understood what it really meant.

For a few other important ones, there's

Asistencia - not assistance, but attendance.

Billón - not billion, but trillion. A billion is "un millon de millones" - literally "a million million."

Chocar / choque - not choke, but crash (verb) / crash (noun), respectively.

Copa - not cup, but a glass (usually wine - "una copa de vino") or a trophy (think of the World Cup!) Cup is "taza."

Lastly, and one I see a lot, is "sensible," which isn't, well... sensible, as in prudent, but "sensitive."

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sopa always bothers me! Just yesterday I said I was going to wash my face with soup. :(

La decepción which means disappointment (rather than deception, which is what I always think when I hear it) has tripped me up quite a bit aswell.

My all-time LEAST favorite false cognate, though, is el fútbol. I've never been a soccer person.

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  • 1 month later...

While in spanish "embarazado" doesn't mean "embarrased", the word "embarazoso/a" means "embarrasing".

For example: "an embarrasing situation" can be translated into "una situación embarazosa"

One that usually cracks me up is "Floor" and "Flor". They are pronounced almost exactly the same. Yet in english "Flor" means "Flower", and in spanish "Floor" means "Piso".

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