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5 Common False Friends for Spanish Speakers

Hi there! We all have to be careful with the cheeky monkeys that are false friends. Of course, we’re talking about those tricky linguistic friends that look like a similar word in different languages but actually mean something very different.

So let’s jump straight in and take a look at some the most common false friends for Spanish speakers learning English.

1. Actually: In English it means ‘in fact’ or is used to emphasise something.

For example:

Our company has grown a great deal in the last few years, and actually, we’re now the market leader.

He actually expected me to be pleased about it!

The same occurs with actual: In English it means real or existing.

For example:

The estimate was much less than the actual cost.

👀 OJO! In Spanish, ‘actualmente’ = currently & ‘actual’ = current

I’m actually working on a new project. X

I’m currently working on a new project.

My actual job X

My current job

2. Discuss / have a discussion: It means to talk about something

For example:

Let’s discuss the details of the sales report.

Let’s have a discussion about all the possible options.

👀 OJO! In Spanish, ‘una discusión’ = an argument and ‘discutir’ = to argue

They were both very angry and ended up having a discussion X

They were both very angry and ended up having an argument

They were both very angry and ended up arguing

3. Carpet: In Spanish, ‘carpeta’ refers to a folder or a file. However, in English, carpet refers to a floor covering.

👀 OJO! These words both look and sound very similar but mean very different things.

This carpet contains confidential documents. X

This folder contains confidential documents.

The hotel lounge floor was covered in a thick, luxurious carpet.

4. Introduce: Doesn’t mean ‘introducir’ in Spanish. Introduce is used for when people meet for the first time i.e. ‘presentar a alguien’.

Let me present you to my co-workers. X

Let me introduce you to my co-workers.

👀 OJO! ‘Introducir’ can be translated as insert, enter or fill in.

You need to insert your credit card.

You need to enter / fill in your details in the form below.

You need to introduce your details in the form below. X

5. Support: Looks a lot like ‘soportar’ but has has a very different meaning.

👀 OJO! Support can be translated as ‘apoyar’ or ‘apoyo’, whereas ‘soportar’ means to tolerate, put up with or stand.

It’s important for the team to support one another.

We need to provide an excellent level of support to our customers.

I can’t support people arriving late for meetings. X

I can’t stand / tolerate / put up with people arriving late for meetings.

We hope you’ve found these examples useful and can start putting them into practice straight away. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to Boost your English?

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