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Spanish Cognates – You Already Know More Spanish Than You Think

 

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.

 

Identical Words

 

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

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
DigitalDigital
AnimalAnimal
LocalLocal
MaterialMaterial
CasualCasual

 

Ending in –ar

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
FamiliarFamiliar
RegularRegular
SolarSolar
LunarLunar
SingularSingular

 

Ending in –ble

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
AdmirableAdmirable
CableCable
HorribleHorrible
AudibleAudible
VisibleVisible

 

There are also irregular words with various endings but also have the same spelling in meaning. Here are a few examples:

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
AreaÁrea
TaxiTaxi
MenuMenú
SoloSolo
RadioRadio

 

Near-Identical Words

 

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

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
TraditionTradición
RecommendationRecommendación
CreationCreación
PostionPosición

 

Ending in –ment to -mento

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
CementCemento
DocumentDocumento
ArgumentArgumento
InstrumentInstrumento

 

Ending in –ary to -ario

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
DictionaryDiccionario
CanaryCanario
DiaryDiario
PrimaryPrimario

 

Ending in –ic to –ico*

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
ComicCómico
BasicBásico
TrafficoTráfico
FantasticFantástico

*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:

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
DeliciousDelicioso
CuriousCurioso
MysteriousMysterioso
ReligiousReligioso

 

Ending in –ct to -cto

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
ProductProducto
DirectDirecto
PerfectPerfecto
ImpactImpacto

 

Ending in –ance to -ancia

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
AmbulanceAmbulancia
DistanceDistancia
FranceFrancia

 

Ending in –ant to –ante*

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
ElegantElegante
DistantDistante
ImportantImportante
PostionPosición

*A similar pattern exists for –ent words to –ente, eg. Present to presente or accident to accidente.

 

Ending in –ence to -encia

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
ResidenceResidencia
ExistenceExistencia
CoincidenceCoincidencia
ConvenienceConveniencia

 

Ending in –id to –ido*

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
FluidFluido
RapidRápido
ValidVálido
LividLívido

*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:

 

ENGLISHSPANISH
DifferentDiferente
ElephantElefante
DepartmentDepartamento
SubstanceSustancia

 

 

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.

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