spanish cognates

Think learning vocab is hard? If you’re learning one of the Romance languages like Spanish or French, lucky you, because odds are you already know hundreds of words in your target language.

English words have been adopted into many languages over time, and it’s been happening more and more lately. This is called anglicism, which refers to a language or culture adopting or borrowing a word, idiom, or characteristic feature from the English language.

Sometimes these anglicisms are modified to sound more local or at home in the language, and sometimes the words are adopted exactly as they are.

In the case of Latin American Spanish, the influence of the English language is even greater than in European Spanish, especially in Mexico, due to the close proximity and cultural exchange. In Europe, on the other hand, France and the UK have been exchanging vocabulary for centuries, and Portugal has borrowed many English words as well.

Here is a table where you can see some English words and their equivalents in three romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French). You can see that sometimes the English word is adopted by one language and not another, so keep in mind that the anglicisms don’t necessarily apply consistently. Focus on the language you’re trying to learn, though, and you’ll find you have a nice leg up on a large amount of vocabulary.


English Spanish Portuguese French
Shopping center Centro comercial Shopping Centre commercial
Band-aid (plaster) Tirita Bandeide Pansement
Design Dibujo Desenho Dessin
Pullover / Sweater Suéter Casaco Pull-over
Mouse Ratón Mouse Souris
Handball Balonmano Handebol Hand-ball
Budget Presupuesto Orçamento Budget
Cool Guay Legal Cool
Weekend Fin de semana Fim de semana Week-end
Cocktail Cocktail Coquetel Cocktail
Dealer Traficante Traficante Dealer
Melting pot Sociedad multiétnica Caldeirão de raças Melting pot
Sport Deporte Esporte Sport
Team Equipo Time Equipe
Bullying Acoso escolar Bullying Harcèlement scolaire
Match Partido Partida Match
Knockout Noqueado Nocaute Hors de combate
Sandwich Sándwich Sanduíche Sandwich
Stock Existencias Estoque Reserve
Drink Bebida Drinque Boisson
Jeans Pantalón vaquero Jeans Jeans
Customize Personalizar Customizar Customiser
Pyjama / Pajama Pijama Pijama Pyjama
Software Software Software Logiciel


To take things even further, particularly with Spanish, here are 75 very helpful and useful Spanish-English cognates for three different situations. Check them out!

Getting around Emergencies Chatting
Airport/aeropuerto Accident/accidente Absolutely/absolutamente Person/personal
Bank/banco Crime/crimen Allergic/alérgico Popular/popular
Bar/bar Doctor/doctor Coffee/café Possible/posible
Car/carro Emergency/emergencia Cost/costo Price/precio
Distance/distancia Hospital/hospital Day/día Problema/problema
Explore/explorar Medical/médico Dollar/dólar Regular/regular
Gas/gas Medicine/medicina Excellent/ excelente Repeat/repetir
Hotel/hotel Pólice/policía Family/ familia Return/retorno
Island/isla Urgent/ urgente Fantastic/fantástico Second/segundo
Map/mapa Favorite/favorito Service/servicio
Mountain/ montaña Interesting/interesante Situation/situación
North/norte Language/lenguaje Social/social
Ocean/ océano Menu/ menú Special/especial
Office/oficina Minute/minuto Sport/deporte
Park/parque Music/ música State/estado
Restaurant/restaurante Nature/naturaleza Story/historia
Station/ estación Necessary/necesario Tea/ té
Train/tren No/no Telephone/teléfono
Theatre/teatro Number/número Temperature/temperatura
University/universidad Opinión/opinión Terrible/terrible
Or/o Use/usar
Pardon/perdón Visit/visitar

In this link you’ll find 12 time-saving tips on how to learn Spanish fast.

Try familiarizing yourself with one group at a time. To practice, create sentences that include some of the words in context. This is a great way to practice on your own between lessons with one of our professional teachers, and will accelerate your learning even more!

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