False Friends: Avoid Them Like the Plague




Just like when a person says he or she is your friend but they mean something else, a false friend in the language context is a word from another language that might look similar or sound similar to your language but means totally different things. In a social context this could bring you some trouble or a good laughter after you realize what you said. (Check out our video).



For instance, you mean “this is very exciting” but you say “es muy excitante”. You start noticing how people look awkwardly at you, while your best friend explains that “excitante” means sexually exciting. So, for your protection we have found a very useful list of false friends for you to pay attention to.


Some false friends you should avoid:


False Friends: Avoid Them Like the Plague


False friends are very common in language learning since anybody is likely to identify the words wrongly because of something called linguistic interference. This is nothing but speakers or writers of one language applying knowledge to another language.


Other examples are “constipado” which is that stuffiness you feel when you have a cold. In English it sounds like “constipated”. So you might find a Spanish speaker saying ” I’m so constipated, I can’t breathe”. What about this one: “molestar”. It means to bother, but it sounds just like “molest”. So even though it is a serious issue, when you say in Spanish that someone was put in jail after “molestar” someone else, don’t be surprised that they will not understand why was it such a big deal.


One last false friend: If you tell your Spanish speaker friend that you will see him at the “exito”, he might never get to the exit, because “exito” means success.


Do you want to know the right things to say on your next trip to a Spanish speaking country? Download our free Survival Guide of Spanish here!



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Learn all the Spanish you need for real life.

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Learn all the Spanish you need for real life.