Here is a short list of some false cognates or "faux amis" from Spanish to English.


Actual/actualmente – CURRENT(LY), not actual(ly)


Americano – PERSON FROM NORTH OR SOUTH AMERICA, not exclusively a person from the United States


Asistir – TO ATTEND, TO BE PRESENT AT, not to assist


Billón – TRILLION, not billion


Carpeta – FOLDER, not carpet


Colegio – HIGH SCHOOL, not college


Complexión - A PERSON’S PHYSICOLOGICAL BUILD, not skin complexion


Compromiso – PROMISE, OBLIGATION, or COMMITMENT, not compromise


Delito – CRIME, not delight


Desgracia - MISTAKE or MISFORTUNE, not disgrace


Educado – WELL MANNERED, not educated


En absoluto – ABSOLUTELY NOT, not absolutely


Embarazada – PREGNANT, not embarrassed


Éxito – HIT or SUCCESS, not exit


Fábrica – FACTORY, not fabric


Librería – BOOKSTORE, not library


Rapista – uncommon word for BARBER, not rapist


Realizar – TO BECOME REAL, BECOME COMPLETED, not to realize (in the sense of coming to understand or notice)


Recordar – TO REMEMBER or TO REMIND, not to record


Pretender – TO TRY, not to pretend






The Canadian Oxford Dictionary. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2004.


The Gage Canadian Dictionary. Rev. Ed. Toronto: Gage Publishing Ltd., 2000.


Real Academia Española : Diccionario de la Lengua Española (2 Vols.). R.A.E. - Espasa Calpe, Madrid.2001


Smith, Colin et al. Collins Spanish Dictionary: Spanish--English, English-Spanish, 2nd Ed. (London, Glasgow, and Toronto: HarperCollins, 1988



Created by: Diana Franz