Cognates can be your best friends when learning new Spanish vocabulary.
You use them around the house. You use them in the kitchen. You use them while you’re traveling.
But still, the word “cognate” sends a chill down your spine.
Well, fortify your constitution and read on because today we’re talking about cognates, whether you like it or not.
The intimidation factor is, perhaps, well deserved. After all, it’s well known that false cognates could lead to embarrassment. False friends aren’t your friends at all.
But the innocent cognate doesn’t deserve its bad rap.
What Are Cognates?
Simply put, cognates are words with the same root word. Since they have the same origin, they sound and are spelled quite similarly.
The most common cognates between English and Spanish are derived from Latin words.
On the other hand, the language learner’s much-loathed false cognate looks like it might share the same meaning but does not. This can lead to misusing words.
But don’t confuse cognates and false cognates. While false cognates are an enemy to be feared, cognates can be a language learner’s best friends.
Why Spanish Cognates Are Your Friends
First of all, cognates are easy to learn. After all, you already know a word that sounds nearly the same and has a similar meaning.
Additionally, you can learn cognates quickly since they’re already so familiar. You won’t need to drill them into your brain with flashcards. Instead, you can often learn them by just reading them a couple times. And best of all, this quick progress is tremendously motivating.
Finally, they’re easy to remember permanently. Even if you don’t practice your Spanish for years, cognates are the words that will linger in your mind since they’re so similar to English-language words you use on a regular basis.
Verb cognates are particularly valuable to learn because they’re so versatile. They can transition into adjectives by using the past participle (where you remove the -ir, -er or –ar and add an -ido or -ado), so learning them skyrockets your functional vocabulary.
54 Spanish Verb Cognates
Abandonar means “to abandon.” Note that it’s very similar in spelling to the English-language verb. The only variation is the addition of -ar.
Activar means “to activate.” This time, the Spanish language word drops the “-ate” of the English-language word and replaces it with an -ar. You’ll notice this pattern in other verbs, too, so read on.
Administrar means “to administer.” Instead of ending in -er like the English-language version, the ending -rar is used.
Ajustar means “to adjust.” While the Spanish-version of the word has dropped the d and added an -ar at the end, it’s still quite similar to the English-language word.
Admitir means “to admit.” As you can see, it’s spelled the same as the English-language word but with -ir tacked onto the end. Verbs that end in “t” in English are often spelled the same in Spanish but with the added -ar, -ir or -er ending.
Adoptar means “to adopt.” Again, the English word ends in “t,” so the only difference in the Spanish-language word is the addition of -ar.
Afectar means “to affect.” Once again, the English-language word ends in “t,” so the Spanish word added the -ar ending. Additionally, the Spanish-language word uses only one f since double consonants are rare in Spanish.
Asignar means “to assign.” The absence of a second s and the -ar ending are the only spelling differences between the Spanish and English words. However, the pronunciation varies more between languages than the spelling since the g is pronounced in the Spanish word.
Calcular means “to calculate.” Again, the Spanish-language version of the word omits the “-ate” and replaces it with an -ar.
Calmar means “to calm.” As you can see, the spelling is identical apart from the additional -ar ending in the Spanish version of the word.
Cancelar means “to cancel.” Again, the Spanish spelling is the same as the English spelling but with the addition of the -ar ending.
Celebrar means “to celebrate.” As with other English language verbs that end “-ate,” the Spanish version replaces the “-ate” with -ar.
Clarificar means “to clarify.” This spelling varies a bit more. The “y” from the English-language word is replaced with an i in the Spanish version and -car is tacked onto the end. Watch for this pattern with other English language verbs that end in “y.”
Clasificar means “to classify.” As was the case with clarificar, the Spanish-language version uses an i in place of the English “y” and tacks -car onto the end. Additionally, the Spanish word clasificar doesn’t use the double s like the English version.
Comentar means “to comment.” Like many English verbs that end in “t,” the Spanish version adds the -ar ending. Additionally, while the English version has a double “m,” the Spanish version uses only one m.
Complementar means “to complement.” Note that this is not the same as “to compliment.” Complementar and “to complement” are actually more similar to “to complete.” Again, the Spanish word is identical to the English word apart from the addition of -ar.
Comunicar means “to communicate.” Again, note that only one m is used in the Spanish word and the “-ate” is replaced with -ar.
Considerar means “to consider.” The Spanish version is identical to the English version apart from the addition of -ar.
Consultar means “to consult.” Again, the spelling is identical apart from the addition of -ar in the Spanish form.
Controlar means “to control.” The Spanish verb and English verb are the same apart from the -ar ending in the Spanish verb.
Cooperar means “to cooperate.” Note that the Spanish form drops the “-ate” ending and replaces it with -ar. This is common.
Coordinar means “to coordinate.” Yet again, the “-ate” ending of the English verb is replaced with the -ar ending in the Spanish verb.
Crear means “to create.” Again, you can think of this as dropping the “-ate” from the English version and replacing it with an -ar in the Spanish version.
Dedicar means “to dedicate.” I’m sure this is feeling repetitive, but again the “-ate” is replaced with an -ar in the Spanish version. Hopefully you’re sensing a pattern here.
Demostrar means “to demonstrate.” Note the -ar is substituted for “-ate” in the Spanish word. Also, the Spanish word does not contain the letter “n.”
Eliminar means “to eliminate.” Again, the Spanish version uses -ar instead of the “-ate” ending.
Estimar means “to estimate.” The “-ate” from the English language word is again replaced with an -ar in this Spanish-language word.
Evaluar means “to evaluate.” Note the -ar instead of “-ate.”
Exagerar means “to exaggerate.” There are a number of common themes in this word. The Spanish word uses only one g instead of two. The Spanish word also uses the -ar ending in place of the “-ate” ending. However, it’s important to note that the Spanish pronunciation uses a h sound for the g.
Existir means “to exist.” The spelling is the same, but the Spanish version adds -ir to the end.
Experimentar means “to experiment.” The Spanish spelling is the same apart from the addition of -ar.
Facilitar means “to facilitate.” Again, the Spanish version uses -ar in place of “-ate.”
Fascinar means “to fascinate.” Again, we trade out the “-ate” for an -ar to make it Spanish.
Formar means “to form.” The Spanish version of the word merely adds an -ar.
Gratificar means “to gratify.” The Spanish version uses an i in place of the “y” and adds -car to the end.
Insertar means “to insert.” The spelling is the same, but the Spanish version adds an -ar.
Insistir means “to insist.” The Spanish version of the word simply adds an -ir.
Insultar means “to insult.” Again, the Spanish version simply adds an -ar ending.
Integrar means “to integrate.” The Spanish version uses -ar in place of “-ate.”
Investigar means “to investigate.” Redundant though it is, the Spanish version again uses -ar in place of “-ate.”
Justificar means “to justify.” Much like many English-language verbs the end in “y,” the Spanish version uses an i in place of “y” and tacks -car onto the end.
Limitar means “to limit.” The Spanish version simply adds -ar onto the end.
Modificar means “to modify.” To convert the English word into Spanish, replace the “y” with an i and add -car onto the end.
Motivar means “to motivate.” You know the drill. The Spanish version replaces “-ate” with -ar.
Necesitar means “to necessitate” though it’s more often used to mean “to need.” Again, the Spanish version uses a single s rather than double and replaces the “-ate” with -ar.
Notificar means “to notify.” To convert it to Spanish, we replace the “y” with an i and add -car to the end.
Operar means “to operate.” The “-ar” again replaces -ate in the Spanish version.
Pacificar means “to pacify.” Remember the familiar rule of verbs that end in “y.” The “y” is replaced with an i and -car is added to the end; then, it magically becomes Spanish.
Participar means “to participate.” Again, the Spanish version uses an -ar ending instead of the “-ate” ending. This might seem redundant. Perhaps annoyingly so. But it’s great for learning because you can see the pattern which will help you remember the words. Bam! That’s learning.
Presentar means “to present.” The Spanish version simply adds an -ar to the end.
Rectificar means “to rectify.” Again, the Spanish version uses an i in place of the “y” and adds -car on the end.
Representar means “to represent.” The English and Spanish versions are the same apart from the -ar ending.
Simplificar means “to simplify.” Can you guess the changes? Yup. The Spanish version uses i instead of “y” and adds -car to the end.
Soportar means “to support” as in to bear weight or to withstand. The word is pretty much the same, but the spelling is a bit different. The Spanish version uses o in place of “u,” one p in place of two and adds an -ar on the end.
With these friendly cognates in your wheelhouse, you’ll never struggle to come up with a much needed verb.