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Posts: 107
Registered: ‎05-26-2010
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Beware of False Cognates in Spanish - Mark's Comments on Pregnant and Stuffy Nose

Saludos Estimados Alumnos,

Greeting Esteemed Students,

I just wanted to mention false cognates.  A cognate is a foreign word that is similar to a word in your native language.

A false cognate is a word that looks and sounds like a word in your native language, but has a different meaning.

Two examples of false cognates in Spanish that embarrassed me.

I once told a group of Colombian students that I was 'pregnant', thinking that 'embarazado' meant

'embarrassed'.  It doesn't of course.  It means to be with child.  What laughter ensued.

The correct word for embarrassed is 'avergonzado(a)' .  Or you could simply say 'Tengo vergüenza' for 'I'm ashamed'.  'Vergüenza' is actually a big important word in Spanish.

A second example of a false cognate is 'constipado(a)'.  In Spanish 'Constipado(a)' means to

have a stuffy nose. 

How about that?

¿Qué les parece? 

Your comments and stories are always welcome.


Frequent Contributor
Posts: 43
Registered: ‎06-03-2010
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Re: Beware of False Cognates in Spanish - Mark's Comments on Pregnant and Stuffy Nose

My father once made the same mistake with 'embarazado'. He used it to apologize to a group of Dominican diplomats and their wives in Santo Domingo (this was a long time ago...) The wives all laughed and said 'pobrecito'