Learning Spanish is faster than you think when you discover that you already know a lot of words even before your first lesson. Thanks to Spanish cognates, you can do seamless translations between languages.
As you go through the lessons in whichever course you choose, you’ll come across lots of familiar words. We’ve listed several examples of Spanish cognates to get you started!
What are Spanish Cognates?
Spanish cognates are identical or near-identical words found in both languages. In many instances, the words have the same meanings, although perhaps a slightly different pronunciation.
Spanish and English both originate from the Latin language. As the languages formed, many words remained the same.
English-speakers learning Spanish typically pick up the language faster than other languages because of the word familiarity.
The easiest words in Spanish to learn are the ones we already know. There are lots of examples of identical Spanish Cognates. Many of the words follow with the endings: -al, -ar, and –ble.
It’s important to note the slight difference in pronunciation. Spanish often uses accents or stresses over a different syllable. Since their meanings are the same in either language, you can easily add these words to your Spanish vocabulary.
Ending in –al
Ending in –ar
Ending in –ble
There are also irregular words with various endings but also have the same spelling in meaning. Here are a few examples:
If you think that there are a lot of identical Spanish cognates, prepare yourself for the following examples of near-identical words.
Based on how the language is used, there are tons of Spanish cognates that have a slightly different spelling compared to their corresponding English word — for example, translating –tion ending in English to –ción in Spanish. Also, the –ment ending in English usually translates to –mento in Spanish.
The words look almost the same and still have the same meanings. Once you learn the language rules, you can apply the trick to many English words with the listed endings and discover that it has a Spanish Cognate.
Ending in –tion to -ción
Ending in –ment to -mento
Ending in –ary to -ario
Ending in –ic to –ico*
*Pay attention to the placement of the accent!
Ending in –ous to –oso
Spanish has similar rules to English for changing adjectives. For example, the word luxury to luxurious is lujo to lujoso. Also, danger to dangerous is peligro to peligroso. The same word effect follows with these Spanish cognate examples:
Ending in –ct to -cto
Ending in –ance to -ancia
Ending in –ant to –ante*
*A similar pattern exists for –ent words to –ente, eg. Present to presente or accident to accidente.
Ending in –ence to -encia
Ending in –id to –ido*
*Just as with other Spanish cognates, accents are frequently used with these translations to preserve a similar pronunciation.
Irregular forms endings
Several words follow the same patterns as the above Spanish cognates, but based on language rules, they may have a slightly different root-word spelling. The spelling change is also done to keep the pronunciation relatively similar to the language counterpart:
You already know a lot of Spanish!
Spanish and English have a lot of commonalities thanks to their Latin roots. As you begin to build your Spanish vocabulary, you’ll discover lots of the same words between the two languages.
You can apply many of these rules to other words that follow the same patterns, and often get the corresponding word in Spanish (or English). Similar spellings, sounds, and meanings give you a head start in becoming fluent in Spanish.
About the author:
Nick Dahlhoff is the founder of All Language Resources, a website made to make it easier to figure out which language learning resources are worth using, and which ones are ineffective. At ALR we’ve tested out and written about hundreds of courses, apps, podcasts, YouTube channels, etc. for language learners.