False friends (English – Spanish)

Hello again!

If you ask me about something tricky when learning Spanish, I’ll definitely say that the trickiest thing when learning every language are the false friends (falsos amigos). And I think this is very important, because you may think that the other person understood you, but maybe what you just said makes no sense.

And I’m not only talking about beginners or self-learners, but also about professionals. I like reading so much, and sometimes I find sentences with no sense because of the false friends, and it drives me crazy!

So today I’m going to give you some false friends (compared to English) and explain you what word would be the correct one for every one of them.


English word: ACTUALLY -> Spanish meaning: realmente

Spanish word: ACTUALMENTE -> English meaning: nowadays


English word: ATTEND -> Spanish meaning: asistir

Spanish word: ATENDER -> English meaning: to pay attention


English word: CARPET -> Spanish meaning: alfombra

Spanish word: CARPETA -> English meaning: folder


English word: ROPE -> Spanish meaning: cuerda

Spanish word: ROPA -> English meaning: clothes


English word: EXIT -> Spanish meaning: salida

Spanish word: ÉXITO -> English meaning: success


English word: EMBARRASED -> Spanish meaning: avergonzado

Spanish word: EMBARAZADA -> English meaning: pregnant


These are some of the most frequent mistakes my students use to make. But as I told before, is not only a beginner’s matter: professionals also make mistakes.

As an anecdote, I will tell you that I was reading a very famous book in Spanish some months ago (I don’t want to say the name of the book, respect, you know) and I got shocked when reading a paragraph. There was a sentence saying “muy embarazado”. Can you find the mistake? Yes! “Embarazado” means pregnant, so you can’t be very pregnant; you are pregnant or you are not, but it isn’t something you can measure. And there’s something more: “embarazado” is a male adjective… Boys don’t (usually) get pregnant, so it was so weird for me because it doesn’t make sense!

And that’s an example of why it’s important to know the false friends.

If you liked it, please share it! And remember that you can book online lessons to learn Spanish online! 😉 

See you next time!

Publicado en False Friends.

2 Comentarios

  1. “Very pregnant” is literally and grammatically incorrect, However, it is used idiomatically to mean “obviously pregnant by physical appearance”.

    • Interesting, I didn’t know about the idiom!
      But in Spanish, at least in Spain, we won’t say “muy embarazada”, but “muy gorda” (very fat) or something like that. What’s more, I said that example because they were talking about a man, which is even more incorrect!
      Thank you very much. 🙂

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