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Spanish and English have a lot of words that are either the same or at the very least close enough to be understood without having ever learned the language. These include a multitude of words that end in either –tion in English or –cion in Spanish. For example, “Education” and “Educación”.

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This however can present a problem as it lulls us into a false sense of security with many other words that have nothing to do with each other in either language. We call these words “False Friends”. Some of the words do have a similar meaning which can minimise the problem or confusion, but many more are so different to maybe cause embarrassment when used in correctly.
As it so happens, “Embarrassed” is one such word. In English it generally means to feel awkward or uncomfortable in a situation. The Spanish word that most closely resembles it is “Embarazada”. This word however means ‘pregnant’ in English. So, you might be very embarrassed if you said you were ‘embarazada’, especially as a man.
One word that confused me in Spanish was the word “Estrechar”. In English it means to narrow or to bring together. The reason why it confused me was because of how it sounded like “Stretch”. This word is almost the exact opposite of the Spanish word though. Stretch means to extend or make longer or wider. So you can see my confusion.
Another example would be “Fabrica” and “Fabric”. In a “fabrica” you would make things, like the word “Factory” in English. “Fabric” on the other hand is something you would use in a factory to make clothes and furniture and the like.
Another word to do with clothes is “Ropa” which literally means clothes in English. However, “Rope” is something you would use to climb a mountain with or to pull heavy things or to tie things up or down.
“Vaso” and “Vase” are another couple of often mixed up words. Vaso means drinking glass in English whereas a vase is for putting flowers in. Technically the flowers will be drinking the water in the vase, but they are very different things in the end.
So, as you can see there are many words that can trip us up when trying to translate from English into Spanish or vice versa. And we have only barely scratched the surface with the words we have looked at here. So be careful out there.

K. Charles

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