Ever been in linguistic hot water or at the very least placed in an embarrassing situation? Most likely this will be the result of a false friend. These false friends are words that sound the same in English and Spanish. They lure new users of the language into thinking they have the exact same meaning in both languages, and that you can count on them to communicate properly and effectively.
And that’s when you land yourself in awkward situations, however they can be overcome if you study them closely, manage to identify them, and keep your guard up when they are around.
Librería — bookshop | Biblioteca — library
Meet librería and library. You could go to either one of these places to pick up books for your language reading practice. The difference is that one of them is for profit (bookstore) and the other is more philanthropic (library). Can you guess which is which? From hereafter, it should not be a guessing game!
Constipado — to have a cold | Estreñido — constipated
One of the more dangerous pairs is constipado and constipated. While they both indicate a lack of health, they refer to very different conditions. More importantly, they are both treatable with over-the-counter products. Obtaining any kind of medicinal product in Spanish-speaking countries requires you go to a pharmacy and speak with the pharmacist. So, it is wise to know the difference between these two.
Not knowing the difference could be disastrous!
Conservante — preservatives | Preservativo — condom
Need I say more?
Recordar — to remember | Grabar — to record
Hmmm, let me see if I can remember…Yes, I remember. You may not record these words as alternates. recordar ≠ record.
Above all, remember that any new skill requires practice, practice, practice and a good healthy dose of mistakes! As long as you are open to learning from them, they will always lead you in the right direction.