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Cognates: 30 words that are the same in Spanish & English

Spanish Cognates: 30 Words That Are the Same in Spanish & English

In this article, I have prepared a set of chunks containing 30 words in Spanish that YOU ALREADY KNOW… even if you’ve never learned Spanish before! 

Exactly, these words mean the same thing in both Spanish and English… and you can start using them immediately in conversations! They’re called COGNATES, and in this lesson, we will focus on your pronunciation and their usage. 

However, in contrast to other videos where you just get a super long list of hundreds of cognates without any context whatsoever, I will make this lesson a bit more fun! Stay tuned to find out how.

Cognates?

First… ¿Qué es un cognado? Y ¿qué significa? (What is a cognate? And, what does it mean?) A cognate is a word that has the same meaning in two languages. There are even perfect cognates, that is, words that have the same spelling. Therefore, if they are written the same way and mean the same thing, the only thing you need to focus on is… pronouncing them correctly!

Now, let’s start with our cognates. However, to make it really interesting, I will use some storytelling, so by the end of this lesson, you will feel ready to use these chunks in a real-life conversation. 

A little bit about me

Yo vivo en la capital, específicamente en la Ciudad de México. ((I live in the capital city, specifically in Mexico City.) Al despertar enciendo la televisión mientras desayuno, y prácticamente ese es mi ritual mañanero. (When I wake up, I turn on the TV while having breakfast and practically that is my morning ritual.)

So, we have perfect cognates in here such as: capital, ritual, and televisión.

Please notice that most of the words that end in – ally (like specifically and practically) might change to the ending – mente and, therefore, we have específicamente and prácticamente. 

Additionally, Spanish words never start with an S; instead, you always have to add an E before the S. That’s why it is específicamente. Fun fact: That’s also the reason why Spanish speakers say “Espanish” instead of “Spanish”. 

(Let’s continue with our story and get ready to identify more chunks!)

The story continues

Por cierto, tengo una memoria terrible (By the way, I have a terrible memory); por eso (for that reason), siempre escribo todo en mi agenda y, así, evito cualquier error o confusión (I always write everything on my agenda, this way I avoid any error or confusion).

Terrible, agenda and error are used exactly as they are in English. Please don’t forget to pronounce the G and E correctly, that is what changes from one language to another. And here we have confusion, with an accent, this means we must stress the last syllable. 

Similarmente (similarly) to the ones ending in – ally, the ones that end in – sion or – tion might have the ending -ción or -sión in Spanish. For example:

  • decisión (decision)
  • división (division)
  • versión (version)
  • colección (collection)
  • celebración (celebration)
  • atracción (attraction)

The End

And our story ends like this:

Quiero dedicar mi vida a ayudar a más personas a comunicar sus necesidades (I would like to dedicate my life to helping more people to communicate their needs), a pronunciar correctamente (to pronounce correctly) y a crear vínculos ya sea de forma personal o profesional, a través del idioma español (and to create personal and professional links, through the Spanish language).

So, did you find the patterns?

  • dedicATE – dedicar
  • comunicATE –   comunicar 
  • pronunciATE – pronunciar
  • creATE – crear 

Yes, the Spanish version of the four of them ends in -AR. Amazing, right? 

And now, correctamente, personal and profesional make sense, don’t they?

So, prácticamente you speak español básico, with this fórmula.

Summary 

To recap what we learned in this lesson, we have:

  • Perfect cognates: words that have the same spelling and same meaning.
  • Near perfect cognates: we only have to change some letters.

Check the following table to recognize the words that they might become in Spanish with a slight ending change:

EnglishSpanishCoincidences
-tion
pronunciation
-ción
pronunciación
1132
-ate
abbreviate
-ar
abreviar
387
-ity 
probability
maternity
stability
-dad 
probabilidad
maternidad
estabilidad
268
-ic 
magic
traffic
chaotic
-ico
mágico
tráfico
caótico
463

Of course, there are some exceptions to these rules, but at least now you know about the existence of cognates, and you speak more Spanish than you think. ¡De nada! (You’re welcome!)

FREE Spanish Training

Great work, mis amigos! Do you want to keep learning Spanish using cognates and chunks? Then feel free to check out the Free Spanish Training we have for you, where we explain the method we use at Spring Spanish to learn Spanish without cramming word lists and boring grammar drills that lead you nowhere.

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