10 False Friends in English and Spanish

False friends are words that look as though they have the same definitions in both English and Spanish, but in reality mean two very different things!

  • Embarasada – Embarrassed

Be careful with this one!  You might end up telling an expecting mother that     she is embarrassed when you want to say that she is pregnant!

Embarasada­ = Pregnant

Avergonzado = Embarrassed

  • Carpeta – Carpet

This incorrect translation is one that many people make. The thing that is used to keep papers in is a folder, a carpet is a type of fabric that is used to cover floors.

Carpeta = Folder

Moqueta = Carpet

  • Fábrica – Fabric

Materials and products are not made in a fabric!  They are made in a factory.  This is an easy mistake to make, but be careful, fabric and a factory are two different things!

Fábrica = Factory

Tela = Fabric

  • Introducir – Introduce

These words in some contexts do have the same definition – to insert or put something inside of something else. It’s important to note that most of the time these words have different meanings. The most common use of introduce in English is to present one person to another as to make them acquainted.

Introducir = To insert

Presentar = To introduce

  • Largo – Large

Both of these words are adjectives, but they don’t mean the same thing!  Large is another way of saying ²big² without giving any information about the objects¢ shape or length.

Largo = Long

Grande = Large

  • Sopa – Soap

Don’t order soap when you go to a restaurant, what you really want is soup! It will sound very funny if you ask for soap (jabón) to eat. To avoid a laughable situation, don’t forget about this false friend.

Sopa = Soup

Jabón = Soap

  • Ultimamente – Ultimately

If you want to say that something happened recently, don’t use the word ultimately. The word you want to use in English is lately.

Últimamente = Lately or recently

Al final = Ultimately

  • Asistir – Assist

These words are so similar that you would surely think they mean the same thing, but think again!

 Asistir = To attend

Ayudar = To assist

  •  Casualidad – Casualty

These two words have two very different definitions! Casualty is used to refer to someone who has been injured or killed in an accident or attack.  A coincidence is an occurence of two or more events at one time by chance.

Casualidad = Coincidence

Víctima o herido = Casualty

  • Éxito – Exit

Be careful with these false friends! An exit is what you use to leave a building or other enclosed space, success is what you have when you accomplish your goals.

Éxito = Success

Salida = Exit