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500+ Useful Spanish Cognates (With PDF Download)

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.


What Are Spanish Cognates?

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

English and Spanish have 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.

But even though they look similar, there are often some differences in stress and pronunciation.

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Beware of false cognates, though!

Often called “false friends,” these are words that look like cognates but aren’t. We have a full post explaining these here that you can check out after reading this one.

Common Spanish Cognates

Cognates are words that are spelled very similarly or exactly the same in both English and Spanish. And because they’re cognates, they mean exactly the same thing too.

Remember to listen for changes in pronunciation!

To abandon Abandonar
Accident Accidente
Additional Adicional
To administer Administrar
To admit Admitir
To adopt Adoptar
Adorable Adorable
To affect Afectar
To adjust Ajustar
Alcohol Alcohol
Animal Animal
Art Arte
To assign Asignar
Bank Banco
Bar Bar
Cable Cable
To calculate Calcular
To calm Calmar
Camera Cámara
To cancel Cancelar
Casual Casual
Ceremony Ceremonia
Circle Círculo
To clarify Clarificar
Colony Colonia
Color Color
To comment Comentar
To complement Complementar
To consider Considerar
To consult Consultar
Control Control
To control Controlar
Conventional Convencional
To cooperate Cooperar
To coordinate Coordinar
To create Crear
To dedicate Dedicar
Diary Diario
To eliminate Eliminar
Enemy Enemigo
Essential Esencial
To estimate Estimar
To evaluate Evaluar
Event Evento
To exaggerate Exagerar
Excuse Excusa
To exist Existir
To experiment Experimentar
To facilitate Facilitar
Family Familia
To fascinate Fascinar
To form Formar
Fruit Fruta
To gratify Gratificar
Group Grupo
Hereditary Hereditario
Hospital Hospital
Ideal Ideal
Impartial Imparcial
Insect Insecto
To insert Insertar
To insist Insistir
Instant Instante
To insult Insultar
To integrate Integrar
To limit Limitar
Limit Límite
Memorable Memorable
To modify Modificar
To motivate Motivar
Muscular Muscular
Music Música
To necessitate; to need Necesitar
Note Nota
Ocean Océano
To pacify Pacificar
Part Parte
Particular Particular
Plant Planta
Poem Poema
To present Presentar
President Presidente
Problem Problema
Radio Radio
To rectify Rectificar
Religion Religión
To represent Representar
Secret Secreto
Silence Silencio
Temperature Temperatura
Temporal Temporal
Tolerable Tolerable
Tropical Tropical
Vital Vital

Rules and Patterns for Spanish Cognates

Knowing the patterns cognates follow makes it much easier to take an educated guess when you’re not sure of a word!

For example, if you aren’t 100% sure how to say “professional” in Spanish during a conversation, you might say profesional because you know the Spanish cognate patterns—and in this case, you’d be correct.

Here are the most common patterns for Spanish cognates that you should commit to memory:

-ant → -ante / -ente

assistant asistente
brilliant brillante
constant constante
distant distante
dominant dominante
elegant elegante
extravagant extravagante
exuberant exuberante
fragrant fragante
giant gigante
ignorant ignorante
immigrant inmigrante
important importante
militant militante
occupant ocupante
participant participante
rampant rampante
relevant relevante
tolerant tolerante

-al → -al

accidental accidental
capital capital
central central
commercial comercial
criminal criminal
cultural cultural
digital digital
educational educacional
emotional emocional
exceptional excepcional
final final
formal formal
functional funcional
global global
gradual gradual
industrial industrial
integral integral
international internacional
legal legal
local local
manual manual
material material
metal metal
musical musical
national nacional
natural natural
original original
parental parental
personal personal
professional profesional
rural rural
social social
special especial
total total

-ar → -ar

angular angular
cellular celular
circular circular
familiar familiar
lunar lunar
molecular molecular
polar polar
popular popular
regular regular
secular secular
similar similar
singular singular
spectacular espectacular
stellar estelar
vascular vascular
vulgar vulgar

-ary → -ario

complementary complementario
stacionary estacionario
extraordinary extraordinario
honorary honorario
imaginary imaginario
involuntary involuntario
literary literario
necessary necesario
ordinary ordinario
solitary solitario
vocabulary vocabulario

-ate → -ar

activate activar
appreciate apreciar
celebrate celebrar
collaborate colaborar
communicate comunicar
decorate decorar
demonstrate demostrar
educate educar
investigate investigar
operate operar
participate participar
regulate regular

-ble → -ble

admirable admirable
amiable amable
audible audible
edible comestible
compatible compatible
feasible factible
flexible flexible
horrible horrible
incredible increíble
indelible indeleble
invincible invencible
noble noble
plausible plausible
possible posible
probable probable
responsible responsable
susceptible susceptible
tangible tangible
terrible terrible
visible visible
vulnerable vulnerable

-ct → -cto / -to

abstract abstracto
architect arquitecto
aspect aspecto
compact compacto
conflict conflicto
contact contacto
correct correcto
defect defecto
direct directo
distinct distinto
effect efecto
strict estricto
exact exacto
indirect indirecto
instinct instinto
intact intacto
object objeto
perfect perfecto
prospect prospecto
project proyecto
respect respeto
subject sujeto

-ic → -ico

artistic artístico
basic básico
classic clásico
economic económico
electric eléctrico
electronic electrónico
fantastic fantástico
genetic genético
historic histórico
ironic irónico
linguistic lingüístico
organic orgánico
panic pánico
plastic plástico
psychic psíquico
public público
romantic romántico
scientific científico
specific específico
strategic estratégico
tragic trágico

-id → -ido

acid ácido
stupid estúpido
intrepid intrépido
liquid líquido
rapid rápido
solid sólido
timid tímido
valid válido

-ify (verbs) → -ificar

amplify amplificar
classify clasificar
codify codificar
dignify dignificar
identify identificar
justify justificar
notify notificar
petrify petrificar
simplify simplificar
specify especificar

-ile → -il

docile dócil
fragile frágil
hostile hostil
mobile móvil
puerile pueril
sterile estéril

-ism → -ismo

alpinism alpinismo
capitalism capitalismo
communism comunismo
egoism egoísmo
feminism feminismo
mechanism mecanismo
optimism optimismo
organism organismo
racism racismo
realism realismo

-ist → -ista

artist artista
dentist dentista
egoist egoísta
feminist feminista
optimist optimista
pianist pianista
protagonist protagonista
realist realista
tourist turista

-ity → -idad

ability habilidad
activity actividad
adversity adversidad
anxiety ansiedad
authority autoridad
community comunidad
creativity creatividad
curiosity curiosidad
difficulty dificultad
diversity diversidad
equality igualdad
generosity generosidad
hospitality hospitalidad
identity identidad
possibility posibilidad
quality calidad
reality realidad
security seguridad
simplicity simplicidad
university universidad

-ive → -ivo

affirmative afirmativo
attractive atractivo
competitive competitivo
constructive constructivo
creative creativo
decisive decisivo
defensive defensivo
effective efectivo
instinctive instintivo
massive masivo
negative negativo
objective objetivo
passive pasivo
positive positivo
progressive progresivo
reflective reflexivo

-ly → -mente

absolutely absolutamente
basically básicamente
clearly claramente
completely completamente
constantly constantemente
especially especialmente
eventually eventualmente
evidently evidentemente
exactly exactamente
generally generalmente
immediately inmediatamente
naturally naturalmente
obviously obviamente
originally originalmente
personally personalmente
possibly posiblemente
practically prácticamente
principally principalmente
rapidly rápidamente
really realmente
relatively relativamente
seriously seriamente
simply simplemente
sincerely sinceramente
socially socialmente
solely solamente
typically típicamente
totally totalmente

-ment → -mento

argument argumento
complement complemento
department departamento
document documento
experiment experimento
fundament fundamento
instrument instrumento
moment momento
monument monumento
movement movimiento
parliament parlamento
sentiment sentimiento
treatment tratamiento

-nce → -ncia

abundance abundancia
adolescence adolescencia
appearance apariencia
conscience conciencia
difference diferencia
evidence evidencia
excellence excelencia
experience experiencia
influence influencia
independence independencia
obedience obediencia
patience paciencia
reference referencia
resistance resistencia
subsistence subsistencia
transparency transparencia
urgency urgencia

-nt → -nte

abundant abundante
brilliant brillante
constant constante
elegant elegante
excellent excelente
important importante
intelligent inteligente
interesting interesante
patient paciente
sufficient suficiente
valiant valiente
vibrant vibrante

-or → -or

actor actor
author autor
competitor competidor
director director
distributor distribuidor
doctor doctor
editor editor
favor favor
inventor inventor
investor inversor
moderator moderador
motor motor
precursor precursor
professor profesor
rumor rumor
spectator espectador
traitor traidor

-ous → -oso

curious curioso
delicious delicioso
dubious dudoso
famous famoso
generous generoso
glamorous glamoroso
glorious glorioso
luminous luminoso
mysterious misterioso
precious precioso
spacious espacioso
timorous temeroso
valorous valeroso
virtuous virtuoso

-sion → -sión

abrasion abrasión
adhesion adhesión
aggression agresión
ascension ascensión
aversion aversión
cohesion cohesión
comprehension comprensión
concession concesión
conclusion conclusión
confusion confusión
conversion conversión
correlation correlación
decision decisión
dimension dimensión
demission dimisión
discussion discusión
distortion distorsión
division división
emission emisión
expansion expansión
expression expresión
extension extensión
illusion ilusión
impression impresión
inclusion inclusión
immersion inmersión
inversion inversión
mission misión
passion pasión
persuasion persuasión
precision precisión
profession profesión
suspension suspensión
tension tensión
transmission transmisión
version versión
vision visión

-tion → -ción

action acción
addiction adicción
celebration celebración
collaboration colaboración
collection colección
combination combinación
communication comunicación
condition condición
construction construcción
contribution contribución
conversation conversación
correction corrección
definition definición
direction dirección
education educación
election elección
elevation elevación
exception excepción
expectation expectación
explanation explicación
generation generación
imagination imaginación
infection infección
information información
interpretation interpretación
invitation invitación
nation nación
observation observación
occasion ocasión
operation operación
organization organización
population población
position posición
preparation preparación
presentation presentación
prevention prevención
promotion promoción
protection protección
recommendation recomendación
relaxation relajación
respiration respiración
selection selección
situation situación
solution solución
variation variación
vibration vibración


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

And now you’re more than 500 words closer to becoming a proficient speaker of Spanish!

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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.”

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As always, happy studying!

And One More Thing…

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FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:


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Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.


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