The big list of “False Friends” Spanish – English

spanish false friends

“False Friends” in Spanish for English native speakers

False Friends – we all know this problem! False Friends are words that sound very similar in your mother tongue but unfortunately mean something totally different. Watch out, in Spanish there are lots of these false friends.

Our list contains more than 60 False Friends! Do you know them all? Have a look at our list and don’t get on the wrong track!

Spanish Word (English Translation) Similar English Word (Spanish Translation)

A

A

actual (current, present-day)

actual (real, efectivo)

americano (person from North or South America) 

american (estadounidense)

aprension (fear) 

apprehension (comprensión)

asistir (to attend, be present at or assist)

asist (ayudar)

atender (to pay attention)

attend (asistir)

B

B

balde (bucket)

bald (calvo)

basamento (base of a clumn) 

basement (sótano)

bigote (moustache)

bigot (intolerante, prejuicio)

billón ((US) trillion, (UK) billion)

billion (mil millones)

bizarro (dashing, brave, gallant)

bizarre (extraño)

boda (wedding)

body (cuerpo)

bombero (firefighter)

bomber (bombardero)

C

C

campo (countryside)

camp (campamento)

carpeta (folder)

carpet (alfombra)

chocar (strike, collide)

choke (ahogar)

casualidad (coincidence, chance)

casualty (victima)

cita (appointment)

city (cuidad)

codo (elbow)

code (codígo)

colegio (high school)

college (universidad)

complexión (physical constitution)

complexion (tez)

constipación (cold)

constipation (estreñimiento)

constipado (a cold)

constipated (estreñido)

contestar (to answer)

contest (concurso)

corresponder (to correspond to)

correspond with (escribir)

corrientemente (simply, without
difficulty or contradiction)

currently (actualmente)

D

D

delito (crime)

delight (delicia, deleite)

desgracia (mistake, misfortune)

disgrace (vergüenza)

disgusto (annoyance, worry)

disgust (asco, repugnancia)

decepción (disappointment)

deseption (engaño)

despertar (to awake)

desperate (desesperado)

destituido (fired, deprived)

destitute (indigente)

dormitorio (bedroom) 

dormitory (residencia, universitaria)

E

E

embarazada (pregnant) 

embarrassed (avergonzada)

empresa (business enterprise, company)

empress (emperatríz)

enviar (to send)

envy (envidiar)

estrechar (to narrow, bring closer together)

stretch (estirar, alargar)

estimado (appreciated)

estimate (estimación, presupuesto)

éxito (success, hit) 

exit (salida)

F / G / I

F / G / I

fábrica (factory)

fabric (tela)

fútil (insignificant)

futile (inútil)

ganga (bargain)

gang (pandilla)

grosería (coarseness, rudeness)

grocery (abarrotería, tienda de comestibles)

introducir (insert) 

introduce (presentar)

L

L

largo (long)

large (grande)

lectura (reading)

lecture (conferencia)

librería (bookstore)

library (biblioteca)

M / N / O

M / N / O

mantel (tablecloth)

mantel (manto, mesilla)

molestar (bother)

molest (abusar, sexualmente)

nudo (knot)

nude (desnudo)

once (eleven)

once (una vez)

P

P

parada (stop, bus-stop)

parade (desfile)

pariente (relative)

parent (padre)

planta (level)

plant (fábrica)

pie (foot)

pie (pastel)

pretender (to attempt, to woo)

pretend (fingir)

preocupado (worried)

preoccupied (distraído)

R

R

rapista (barber)

rapist (violador)

realizar (perform)

realize (darse cuenta)

recordar (to remember, to remind)

record (grabar)

ropa (clothes)

rope (cuerda)

S

S

sano (healthy)

sane (cuerdo)

sensible (sensitive)

sensible (sensato)

sopa (soup)

soap (jabón)

soportar (tolerate, put up with)

support (apoyar)

suceso (event)

success (éxito)

T / U / V 

T / U / V

tuna (prickly pear)

tuna (atún)

últimamente (recently)

ultimately (al final)

vaso (drinking glass)

vase (jarrón, florero)

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