spanish cognates

The Power of Spanish Cognates: 94 Spanish Words You Already Know

Even if today is your first day learning Spanish, you already know plenty of Spanish words.

Actor, animal, bar, color, control… You know them in English, but they’re in italics here because they’re all Spanish cognates!

Spanish and English have many such “twins,” and taking advantage of them will speed up your Spanish learning considerably.

Let’s look at some more words that look exactly (or almost) the same in English and Spanish.

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What Are Spanish Cognates?

Cognates are words that look identical or similar in two languages and have the same definition.

English and Spanish have a long history and have lent and borrowed many words from each other. This is helpful for English-speaking learners of Spanish (and vice versa)!

Cognates are the easiest way to expand your vocabulary. Just a quick look at the word and you know its meaning.

Though they look similar, there are often some differences in stress and pronunciation. The links below will take you to Forvo so you can hear each word pronounced by a native speaker.

Beware of false cognates, however!

Often called “false friends,” these are words that look similar in English and Spanish but have different meanings. False cognates can definitely lead to some miscommunication!

Always double-check that a familiar-looking word means what you think it means before you start using it.

The following 94 cognates are true friends: words that look and mean the same in both Spanish and English.

Perfect Spanish Cognates

These words are spelled exactly the same way in English and Spanish. And because they’re cognates, they mean exactly the same thing too.

The only difference you may see in perfect Spanish cognates is the inclusion of an accent mark.

And remember to listen for changes in pronunciation!

SpanishEnglish
actoractor
alcoholalcohol
animalanimal
barbar
colorcolor
controlcontrol
doctordoctor
hospitalhospital
metalmetal
radioradio
religiónreligion

Near-perfect Spanish Cognates

These near-perfect cognates have very similar spelling in both English and Spanish, though they’re not exact matches.

You can probably still guess the meaning of the word just by looking at the Spanish form!

SpanishEnglish
accidenteaccident
arteart
bancobank
cámaracamera
ceremoniaceremony
círculocircle
coloniacolony; cologne
correctocorrect
enemigoenemy
eventoevent
excusaexcuse
experienciaexperience
familiafamily
frutafruit
grupogroup
insectoinsect
límitelimit
músicamusic
notanote
océanoocean
parte (f.)part
plantaplant
poemapoem
presidentepresident
problemaproblem
secretosecret
silenciosilence
temperaturatemperature
universidaduniversity

Spanish Verb Cognates

The Spanish verb cognates below also have very similar spelling to their English counterparts.

Verb cognates are particularly valuable to learn because they’re so versatile. They can even become adjectives by using the past participle form (remove the -ir-er or –ar and add an -ido or -ado).

Learning Spanish verb cognates vastly expands your functional vocabulary.

SpanishEnglish
abandonarto abandon
activarto activate
administrarto administer
ajustarto adjust
admitirto admit
adoptarto adopt
afectarto affect
asignarto assign
calcularto calculate
calmarto calm
cancelarto cancel
celebrarto celebrate
clarificarto clarify
clasificarto classify
comentarto comment
complementarto complement
comunicarto communicate
considerarto consider
consultarto consult
controlarto control
cooperarto cooperate
coordinarto coordinate
crearto create
dedicarto dedicate
demostrarto demonstrate
eliminarto eliminate
estimarto estimate
evaluarto evaluate
exagerarto exaggerate
existirto exist
experimentarto experiment
facilitarto facilitate
fascinarto fascinate
formarto form
gratificarto gratify
insertarto insert
insistirto insist
insultarto insult
integrarto integrate
investigarto investigate
justificarto justify
limitarto limit
modificarto modify
motivarto motivate
necesitarto necessitate; to need
notificarto notify
operarto operate
pacificarto pacify
participarto participate
presentarto present
rectificarto rectify
representarto represent
simplificarto simplify
soportarto support

 

Learning cognates can be a cool way of improving your Spanish vocabulary with little effort.

And now you’re 94 words closer to becoming a proficient speaker of Spanish!

You can also see these words in use and discover even more Spanish cognates with programs like FluentU. The interactive subtitles let you double-check the meaning of each word in every video you watch, so you don’t have to worry about “false friends.”

As always, happy studying!

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