When you learn a language it is quite frequent making some errors with those words called “false friends”. False friends are words that, on account of their similar writing and pronunciation, closely resemble each other in two different languages although, indeed, they have very different meanings. The “false friend” denomination comes from French faux-ami and it was used for the first time by Koessler and Derocquigny in their book Les faux-amis ou les trahisons du vocabulaire anglais (‘False friends or English vocabulary’s betrayals’), published in 1928.
There can be found many “false friends” in every language. Errors when learning Spanish are very common and students don’t have to worry about them too much. A lot of practice is the only way to improve, and even when you practice, it is usual to make errors. The more the student repeats, the less he/she will make errors, because the student experiences a natural assimilation of the language and its grammar structure.
There is a large number of “false friends”, owing to a common etymology that, afterwards, has produced very different meanings in every different language. Language students use to be victims of “false friends”, which usually result in very interesting and funny situations.
In this post we will refer to some of the most common errors when learning Spanish. They use to be “false friends” in Spanish and English. For example:
Sympathy-Simpatía. Sympathy means “compassion”, “pity” in Spanish, while Simpatía means an affective inclination between people, the character of a person that makes him/her nice for the others.
Sensible-Sensible. Sensible (English) means “reasonable”, “judicious” in Spanish; Sensible (Spanish) refers to someone who shows feelings of pity or sorrow, being easily carried along by sentiments.
Sane-Sano. Sane means “rational”, “sensible”; while Sano in Spanish conveys the meaning of someone or something that is healthy
Eventually-Eventualmente. Eventually means “finally” in Spanish; Eventualmente means “incidentally” or “by chance”.