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Spanish words similar to English

Building a strong Spanish vocabulary can be quite a challenge. You need to have a good strategy to learn the most frequently used words in the shortest time possible. Starting from this lesson and continuing in the next four lessons, we will be covering some shortcuts which will help you build your Spanish vocabulary more effectively. We will be introducing some certain patterns which you can make use of to learn more words. But, be careful not every word which looks like an English word is a true cognate. We will deal with the false cognates in the next lesson. Another shortcut to expand your Spanish vocabulary is to concentrate on prefixes and suffixes. In lesson Spanish prefixes we will cover the essential frequency prefixes and in lesson Spanish suffixes we will do the same for the suffixes. Finally, we will cover the topic Spanish compound words in this series. Let us start with what you already have in your hands to start making sentences in Spanish.

Start with what you already have at your disposal

Spanish has many words which are similar to English. Therefore, it is a good idea to recognize which English words can be used in Spanish as well so that you can start using them immediately in your sentences.

These words are called Spanish cognates and to differentiate them from the false cognates, they are sometimes called as true cognates as well.

For example, the Spanish verb abandonar means to abandon. Very often you will notice that many Spanish verbs are formed by adding one of the possible infinitive forms, i.e. –ar, -er, -ir to the infinitive of the English verb, as in the case of abandoner. In other cases, the English and Spanish words can be exactly the same. For example, abnormal is used in both languages as adjectives. Yet in some other cases, the two words just resemble each other, as in the case of acusar which means to accuse. Many nouns which end in “–tion” in Spanish have English counterparts which end in –ción.

In the vocabulary section below, you may find a collection of some of the essential ones.


similar verbs

abdicar: to abdicate

abolir: to abolish

acusar: to accuse

acelerar: to accelerate

adapt: to adaptar

ajustar: to adjust

administrar: to administrar

admire: to admirar

admit: to admitir

adoptar: to adopt

adorar: to adore

affectar: to affect

aparecer: to appear

atacar: to attack

atenuar: to attenuate

calmar: to calm

combinar: to combine

contribuir: to contribute

controlar: to control

declarar: to declare

dedicar: to dedicate       

decider: to decide

falsear: to falsify

fascinar: to fascinate

iluminar: to illuminate

imaginar: to imagine

justificar: to justify

laborer: to labor

lamenter: to lament

limitar: to limit

calcular: to calculate

necesitar: to need

obligor: to obligate

ocurrir: to occur

obtener: to obtain           

offender: to offend

observer: to observe

recibir: to receive



similar nouns

abstracción: abstraction

abundancia: abundance

actor: actor

actriz: actress

arrogancia: arrogance

ataque: attack

atención: attention

atracción: attraction

atributo: attribute

audiencia: audience

balcón: balcony

banco: bank

banquero: banker

barbero: barber

beneficio: benefit

bicicleta: bicycle

biografía: biography

blusa: blouse

bomba: bomb

calendario: calendar

candidato: candidate

capacidad: capacity

conflicto: conflict

contacto: contact

contracto: contract

danza: dance

efecto: effect

electricidad: electricity

imperio: empire

eternidad: eternity

facultad: faculty

faciliad: facility

familia: family

factor: factor

fama: fame

fatalidad: fatility

generosidad: generosity

gesto: gesture

gradtitud: graditude

historia: history

idea: idea

kilogramo: kilogram

localidad: locality

libertad: liberty

latitud: latitude

lista: list

nacionalidad: nationality

necesidad: necessity

objeto: object

pausa: pause

pasta: paste

perla: pearl

realista: realist

realidad: reality

talent: talent

temperatura: temperature

Note that the English nouns ending in “–tion” have Spanish counterpart ending in –ción. Similarly, Spanish nouns ending in –dad have English counterparts which end in –ty.

similar adjectives/adverbs

absolutamente: absolutely

abundantemente: abundantly

arrogante: arrogant

aspirante: aspirant

atractivo: attractive

absurd: absurdo

atento: attentive

activo: active

automático: automatic

defecto: defect

elegante: elegant       

eterno: eternal

esencial: essential

falso: false

famoso: famous

favorable: favorable

glorioso: glorious

imposible: impossible

justo: just

necesario: necessary

negativo: negative

objetivo: objective

obscuro: obscure

quieto: quite

razonable: reasonable

Note that many English adjectives ending in –ous have Spanish counterparts which end in –o.

Let's Practice

Translate the following words.

All Exercises