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https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr

The Most Useful Spanish Cognates

CliffJonesJr
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I rediscovered a really cool site today (well, cool if you're a language nerd, which I'll assume you are): Cognates.org. You can paste in English text, and it'll highlight words that have matching counterparts in the major Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Italian).

It also has several word lists with the cognates pulled out. Just the kind of data I like. What I've put together for you guys is a list of all the cognates that occur in both Michael West's General Service List and in the Core Vocabulary of Voice of America's Special English. This adds up to 330 words that should be pretty basic.

  1. accept = aceptar
  2. accident = accidente
  3. accuse = acusar
  4. act = actuar
  5. actor = actor
  6. admit = admitir
  7. agency = agencia
  8. agriculture = agricultura
  9. air = aire
  10. airplane = aeroplano
  11. animal = animal
  12. appear = aparecer
  13. approve = aprobar
  14. arms (weapons) = armas
  15. arrest = arrestar
  16. art = arte
  17. baby = bebé
  18. balance = balance
  19. bank = banco
  20. bar = bar
  21. base = base
  22. block = bloque
  23. border = borde
  24. bottle = botella
  25. calm = calma
  26. camera = cámara
  27. capital = capital
  28. car = carro
  29. case = caso
  30. cause = causa
  31. center = centro
  32. century = centuria
  33. ceremony = ceremonia
  34. chance = chance
  35. circle = círculo
  36. clear = claro
  37. coast = costa
  38. coffee = café
  39. collect = coleccionar
  40. colony = colonia
  41. color = color
  42. combine = combinar
  43. command = comandar
  44. committee = comité
  45. common = común
  46. company = compañía
  47. compete = competir
  48. complete = completar
  49. condition = condición
  50. connect = conectar
  51. contain = contener
  52. continue = continuar
  53. control = control
  54. copy = copiar
  55. correct = correcto
  56. cost = costo
  57. creature = criatura
  58. crime = crimen
  59. criminal = criminal
  60. cross = cruz
  61. custom = costumbre
  62. dance = danzar
  63. day = día
  64. decide = decidir
  65. declare = declarar
  66. defend = defender
  67. demand = demandar
  68. depend = depender
  69. describe = describir
  70. desert = desierto
  71. destroy = destruir
  72. different = diferente
  73. difficult = difícil
  74. direct = directo
  75. disappear = desaparecer
  76. discover = descubrir
  77. discuss = discutir
  78. distance = distancia
  79. divide = dividir
  80. doctor = doctor
  81. dollar = dólar
  82. during = durante
  83. education = educación
  84. effect = efecto
  85. effort = esfuerzo
  86. elect = electo
  87. employ = emplear
  88. enemy = enemigo
  89. engineer = ingeniero
  90. enter = entrar
  91. equal = igual
  92. especially = especialmente
  93. event = evento
  94. exact = exacto
  95. examine = examinar
  96. example = ejemplo
  97. excellent = excelente
  98. except = excepto
  99. excuse = excusa
  100. exercise = ejercicio
  101. exist = existir
  102. experience = experiencia
  103. experiment = experimento
  104. explode = explotar
  105. explore = explorar
  106. express = expreso
  107. extend = extender
  108. extra = extra
  109. extreme = extremo
  110. false = falso
  111. family = familia
  112. film = film
  113. finish = finalizar
  114. firm = firma
  115. flower = flor
  116. force = fuerza
  117. fresh = fresco
  118. fruit = fruta
  119. funeral = funeral
  120. future = futuro
  121. gas = gas
  122. general = general
  123. govern = gobernar
  124. grain = grano
  125. group = grupo
  126. guard = guardia
  127. history = historia
  128. honest = honesto
  129. honor = honor
  130. hospital = hospital
  131. hotel = hotel
  132. hour = hora
  133. human = humano
  134. idea = idea
  135. imagine = imaginar
  136. immediate = inmediato
  137. important = importante
  138. in = en
  139. include = incluir
  140. increase = incrementar
  141. industry = industria
  142. influence = influencia
  143. inform = informar
  144. insect = insecto
  145. instrument = instrumento
  146. insult = insultar
  147. interest = interés
  148. interfere = interferir
  149. international = internacional
  150. invent = inventar
  151. invite = invitar
  152. island = isla
  153. limit = límite
  154. line = línea
  155. liquid = líquido
  156. list = lista
  157. literature = literatura
  158. local = local
  159. manufacture = manufacturar
  160. map = mapa
  161. march (parade) = marchar
  162. material = material
  163. May = mayo
  164. medical = médico
  165. medicine = medicina
  166. member = miembro
  167. memory = memoria
  168. message = mensaje
  169. metal = metal
  170. mine (excavation) = mina
  171. mineral = mineral
  172. minister = ministro
  173. minute = minuto
  174. model = modelo
  175. moderate = moderado
  176. modern = moderno
  177. moral = moral
  178. mountain = montaña
  179. move = mover
  180. much = mucho
  181. music = música
  182. mystery = misterio
  183. nation = nación
  184. native = nativo
  185. nature = naturaleza
  186. necessary = necesario
  187. no = no
  188. north = norte
  189. not = no
  190. note = nota
  191. number = número
  192. obey = obedecer
  193. object = objeto
  194. observe = observar
  195. ocean = océano
  196. offer = oferta
  197. office = oficina
  198. official = oficial
  199. on = en
  200. operate = operar
  201. opinion = opinión
  202. opposite = opuesto
  203. or = o
  204. order = orden
  205. organize = organizar
  206. paint = pintar
  207. paper = papel
  208. pardon = perdón
  209. part = parte
  210. pass = pasar
  211. passenger = pasajero
  212. past = pasado
  213. patient = paciente
  214. perfect = perfecto
  215. permanent = permanente
  216. permit = permitir
  217. person = persona
  218. piece = pieza
  219. plan = plan
  220. plant = planta
  221. poem = poema
  222. police = policía
  223. politics = política
  224. popular = popular
  225. population = población
  226. position = posición
  227. possess = poseer
  228. possible = posible
  229. postpone = posponer
  230. present = presente
  231. president = presidente
  232. prevent = prevenir
  233. price = precio
  234. prison = prisión
  235. private = privado
  236. problem = problema
  237. produce = producir
  238. profession = profesión
  239. program = programa
  240. progress = progreso
  241. property = propiedad
  242. propose = proponer
  243. prove = probar
  244. public = público
  245. pure = puro
  246. quality = calidad
  247. quiet = quieto
  248. race (ethnicity) = raza
  249. radio = radio
  250. rare = raro
  251. real = real
  252. reason = razón
  253. reasonable = razonable
  254. receive = recibir
  255. recent = reciente
  256. reduce = reducir
  257. religion = religión
  258. repair = reparar
  259. repeat = repetir
  260. report = reporte
  261. represent = representar
  262. resist = resistir
  263. responsible = responsable
  264. result = resultado
  265. retire = retirar
  266. return = retorno
  267. rich = rico
  268. rob = robar
  269. rock = rock
  270. roll = rollo
  271. ruin = ruina
  272. sacrifice = sacrificio
  273. salt = sal
  274. satisfy = satisfacer
  275. science = ciencia
  276. second = segundo
  277. secret = secreto
  278. separate = separar
  279. serious = serio
  280. serve = servir
  281. service = servicio
  282. severe = severo
  283. shock = shock
  284. show (event) = show
  285. silence = silencio
  286. simple = simple
  287. situation = situación
  288. social = social
  289. solid = sólido
  290. space = espacio
  291. special = especial
  292. spirit = espíritu
  293. sport = deporte
  294. state = estado
  295. station = estación
  296. story = historia
  297. suffer = sufrir
  298. sugar = azúcar
  299. suggest = sugerir
  300. support = soporte
  301. suppose = suponer
  302. surprise = sorpresa
  303. suspect = sospechoso
  304. sympathy = simpatía
  305. system = sistema
  306. tea = té
  307. telephone = teléfono
  308. temperature = temperatura
  309. terrible = terrible
  310. theater = teatro
  311. total = total
  312. train = tren
  313. trap = trampa
  314. treat (deal with) = tratar
  315. tribe = tribu
  316. tube = tubo
  317. unite = unir
  318. universe = universo
  319. university = universidad
  320. urge = urgir
  321. urgent = urgente
  322. use = usar
  323. usual = usual
  324. valley = valle
  325. value = valor
  326. victory = victoria
  327. violence = violencia
  328. visit = visitar
  329. vote = votar
  330. zero = cero

Can you think of any other Spanish-English cognates that are useful enough to belong on a short list like this? Please post your suggestions in a comment. Off the top of my head, class/clase, document/documento, favorite/favorito, language/lenguaje, menu/menú, and park/parque would be good.

If you like this kind of thing, check out my website for more!

3 years ago

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/annaannaannaan

cognates are part of the concept of language transfer, which lies behind the excellent free language courses available at http://www.languagetransfer.org/#!courses/cez4 . i have no affiliation, i just use them alongside duo. i actually wish i'd done their spanish course before i found duo, rather than vice versa.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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Thanks for the link! Interesting stuff. And free is always nice.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vcel10
vcel10
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Cognates are useful, but if you're already familiar with the English for words like "simple" or "secreto" then you don't need to memorize them, you already know. Conversely I would suggest being aware of the false-friends or false cognates like actual, arena, dirección. etc

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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These words may be more or less comprehensible the first time you encounter them, but you actually do need to memorize them if you want to be able to use them. It's just really easy to do, so you don't have to put the same amount of effort into it that you would for a normal vocabulary list.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vcel10
vcel10
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I'll put a little effort to use them speaking or writing, but little to no effort required for listening and reading.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/barbareed
barbareed
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A list of common false cognates would be super useful.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vcel10
vcel10
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List of false friends . . . click the link.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wynrich
wynrichPlus
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Interesting, thanks! One thing about cognates is sometimes you think that how to form a cognate would be obvious when it is not. For example: "competition" is " competencia" (not "competición") or "to react" is "reaccionar" (not "reactar") or "calculation" is "cálculo". My favorite website for learning vocabulary is memrise and, for example, in the top 5000 words course (http://www.memrise.com/course/1288/first-5000-words-of-spanish/), there exist many many cognates formed in the obvious way ("education" = "educación"). But some of these weird ones pop up and can throw you. Plus, you still have to memorize genders and endings such as "a", vs. "o". It's not obvious that "quiet" would be "quieto" and "note" would be "nota" or that "perdón" is masculine but "razón" is feminine. But, I agree, even though some details have to be memorized or practiced a lot, cognates help quickly build a vocabulary. And they sure make it easy to read things as long as you know the false cognates.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lisa4duolingo
lisa4duolingo
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Plus, just learning a cognate for a word won't tell you if that's really the word native speakers use most frequently. The word "educación" is a good example. You can use it and others, especially those who speak English, will probably know what you mean, but after examining a couple of different sources, it appears that native Spanish speakers are far more likely to use "educativo" instead of "educación."

In a way, relying on the cognate is something of a form of Spanglish. It might be a good way to get you thinking and speaking in Spanish, but then again, it might also be forming bad habits that could be tough to break later. I guess it just depends on how good or exact you want your Spanish to be and how good you are at replacing old information with new if you should find out that the word you learned for something makes you sound like a non-native.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sainio
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A note about your example: "educativo" is an adjective, and shouldn't be used to replace "educación," which is a noun. Generally speaking, "educativo" means "educational," but it would be translated as "education" in situations in which English uses "education" as an adjective ("the education system").

I do agree with the underlying premise that there isn't a perfect correspondence between "education" and "educación." Depending on where you are and what you're talking about, "educación" might mean something more like "manners" or "upbringing." Also depending on the region and context, a Spanish speaker might be more likely to use "formación" or "enseñanza" or "pedagogía" in a sentence in which an English speaker would use "education." (I should note that those three words aren't synonyms: they mean different things, but those meanings can all be covered by "education" in English.)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lisa4duolingo
lisa4duolingo
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You're right, sainio. I was confusing education with educational. Good catch and I'm glad you caught it so quickly! I'm giving you a lingot for your speed, knowledge of Spanish, and willingness to correct someone when they're wrong. ¡Bravo!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Grandmumm
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Interesting!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Geo430
Geo430
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... which means interesante, another cognate.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Wonderboy6
Wonderboy6
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rentar should be in there ^^

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IsaiahGardner_

I thought airplane was "Avion"?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
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"Aeroplano" and "avión" are the same thing ([air]plane).

http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1555123

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Raininglingots

Ok here goes, a lot of clicking... there are you first set of 20 lingots, more coming

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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Awesome, thank you! You almost made me want to give you a lingot to show my appreciation. :^P

By the way, if you want to see my other posts, I link to the major ones from CliffJonesJr.com.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Raininglingots

Here are even more lingots...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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Thanks!!!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Raininglingots

No problem, expect more tomorrow :D

Edit: Here are 30 i'm feeling generous today :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mibbles.me
mibbles.me
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Wow! This is really useful. :) Here is a list of German/English cognates I found interesting. http://docslide.us/embed/1300-german-english-cognates.html

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CliffJonesJr
CliffJonesJr
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Thanks!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Geo430
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The two that pop into my head first are bilingue (bilingual) and pinguino (penguin). The u in both bilingue and pinguino have two dots over them (umlaut?), but I don't know how to type them onto here.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mattie310

thank you for this! helped me with my Spanish 1 assignment

1 year ago