Monthly Archives: March 2020

Spanish false friends to avoid at all costs!

What is a false friend? No, it is not exactly that lousy fellow from your neighborhood. We are talking here about a false cognate.

But what is a cognate? Well, a cognate is a word that is not only written practically the same, but also has the same meaning as in another language. For instance, ‘terrible’ and terrible, ‘minute’ and minuto, ‘idea’ and idea, ‘sofa’ and sofá, etc.

Now, false cognates are words that have quite similar spelling and pronunciation from one language to the other, but whose meanings are completely different. Not by coincidence they are also known as falsos amigos or false friends. Just like a mischievous enemy can lead us to funny misunderstandings.

There are a lot of false cognates shared by Spanish and English, and chances are that you have been using them without even knowing. But don’t worry! I’ve got your back. Read on to find out which false friends you should avoid no matter what to avoid finding yourself in awkward situations.

Embarazado/a 

What you think you are saying: Embarrassed

What you are really saying: Pregnant

What you should be saying: Avergonzado/a, apenado/a

Sopa

What you think you are saying: Soap

What you are really saying: Soup

What you should be saying: Jabón

 

Carpeta

What you think you are saying: Carpet

What you are really saying: Folder, file

What you should be saying: Alfombra

 

Bizarro/a

What you think you are saying: Bizarre

What you are really saying: Bold, courageous; although today this is being used by some Spanish-speakers as a synonym of ‘weird, strange’

What you should be saying: Extraño/a, raro/a

 

Actualmente

What you think you are saying: Actually

What you are really saying: Currently

What you should be saying: En realidad, de hecho

 

Delito

What you think you are saying: Delight

What you are really saying: Offense, crime

What you should be saying: Deleite, placer

 

Terrorífico/a

What you think you are saying: Terrific

What you are really saying: Frightening, horrific

What you should be saying: Increíble, estupendo/a, bárbaro/a

 

Sensible

What you think you are saying: Sensible

What you are really saying: Sensitive

What you should be saying: Sensato

 

Cuestión

What you think you are saying: Question, synonym of ‘inquiry’

What you are really saying: Issue, problem, matter, key subject

What you should be saying: Pregunta, interrogante

 

Eventualmente

What you think you are saying: Eventually

What you are really saying: Possibly

What you should be saying: Finalmente, al final

 

Éxito

What you think you are saying: Exit

What you are really saying: Success

What you should be saying: Salida

 

Realizar

What you think you are saying: To realize, to become aware of something

What you are really saying: To make, to do, to carry out

What you should be saying: Darse cuenta (de algo), percatarse (de algo)

 

Fábrica

What you think you are saying: Fabric

What you are really saying: Factory, (manufacturing) plant

What you should be saying: Tela, tejido

 

Excitado/a

What you think you are saying: Excited

What you are really saying: Aroused

What you should be saying: Emocionado/a

 

Chocar

What you think you are saying: To choak

What you are really saying: To shock; to crash into something

What you should be saying: Ahogar(se), extrangular

 

Suceso

What you think you are saying: Success

What you are really saying: Event, happening

What you should be saying: Éxito

 

Molestar

What you think you are saying: To harass, to molest (sexually)

What you are really saying: To annoy, to disturb

What you should be saying: Abusar (sexualmente) de alguien, acosar

 

Introducir

What you think you are saying: To introduce (someone to someone else)

What you are really saying: To put in/into something, to insert

What you should be saying: Presentar (a alguien)

 

Recordar

What you think you are saying: To record

What you are really saying: To remember

What you should be saying: Grabar

 

Contestar

What you think you are saying: To contest

What you are really saying: To answer (back), to reply

What you should be saying: Protestar (contra algo), refutar, impugnar

 

Actual

What you think you are saying: Actual

What you are really saying: Current, present

What you should be saying: Real

Largo

What you think you are saying: Large

What you are really saying: Long

What you should be saying: Grande; numeroso/a; amplio/a

 

Preservativo

What you think you are saying: Preservative

What you are really saying: This word is most commenly used as a synonym for ‘prophylactic’ or ‘condom’

What you should be saying: Conservante

 

Right from the beginning, we detect the notable differences between seemingly related words. However, there lies the beauty of understanding cognates: they will let you get a good grasp of the many nuances that Spanish contains.

Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – Spanish expressions with Leche

In this Spanish lesson we are going to look at and practice Spanish expressions with Leche. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – Spanish expressions with Leche

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

Billy: Hola Ana, ¿qué te pasa? ¿has estado corriendo?

Ana: Sí, he venido a toda leche. Es que el despertador no me ha sonado esta mañana me he levantado hace quince minutos.

Billy: Guau, pues has llegado a la hora. Muy bien.

Ana: Sí, es que como el jefe tiene tanta mala leche, si ve que no estoy aquí a la hora me despide.

Billy: No mujer, no creo. Te echaría la bronca.

Ana: Eso por lo menos. El jefe está de muy mala leche últimamente.

Billy: ¡Leches! Se me ha olvidado terminar el informe que me pidió el jefe el viernes. Tengo que terminarlo ahora mismo.

Ana: No te preocupes, yo te ayudo y así lo terminamos en un momento.

Billy: Gracias Ana, eres la leche.

Ana: De nada, somos compañeros ¿no? Tenemos que ayudarnos. Y así tú me ayudas con el examen de inglés, que lo llevo muy mal.

Billy: ¿Has probado ver películas en inglés en Netflix?

Ana: Sí, he probado pero no entiendo una leche. Prefiero hablar contigo en inglés.

Billy: Sí, está bien pero tienes que seguir intentando ver películas en inglés. Es muy bueno para mejorar tu comprensión auditiva. Si quieres te dejo la peli ‘El Señor de los Anillos’. Tengo el DVD en inglés.

Ana: ¡Y una leche! No veo esa peli en inglés ni loca.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

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Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – False Friends (Part 2)

In this Spanish lesson we are going to practice more using various False Friends. These are words in Spanish which have a very similar appearance or sound to an English word, but mean something completely different. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

False Friends English Spanish

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – False Friends (Part 2)

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

Ben: Hola Cristina ¿Dónde has estado? Estás muy morena.

Cristina: Sí, es que he estado de vacaciones en Málaga.

Ben: ¿Ah sí? ¿y qué tal te lo has pasado?

Cristina: Genial. La verdad es que solo hice cosas fútiles, tomar el sol en la playa, ir de compras…

Ben: ¿Hacía mucho calor?

Cristina: Sí, muchísimo. El primer día hacía más de cuarenta grados y casi me dio una insolación. Me mareé un poco y tuve que ir al bar para tomar un refresco.

Ben: Es que hay que tener cuidado con el sol Cristina. ¿Y compraste algo interesante?

Cristina: Pues encontré un montón de gangas. Ropa super barata y zapatos. Me compré muchísimos zapatos, once pares.

Ben: ¿Once pares? ¡Qué pasada! ¿Y cómo fuiste? ¿En avión?

Cristina: No, fui en coche. El viaje fue largo pero paramos varias veces para tomar algo. Lo peor fue que en el coche íbamos cinco personas y me molestaba un poco tener tan poco espacio. Fuimos en un Ford Fiesta así que imagínate, estábamos un poco justos de espacio. ¿Y tú que has hecho este verano?

Ben: Pues no mucho. Déjame pensar, a ver si recuerdo… Ver el fútbol y poco más. No he ido nada a la playa. Me quemo muy rápido.

Cristina: Sí, parece que tienes la piel muy sensible.

Ben: Sí, y también he practicado con la tuna de la universidad.

Cristina: ¿Sí? No sabía que estabas en la tuna.

Ben: Sí, toco la guitarra y canto. Me encanta. Este verano hemos practicado mucho.

Cristina: ¡Qué guay! Tengo que veros actuar.

Ben: Sí, cuando quieras.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

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Creative Ways to Practice Spanish with Social Distancing

A good portion of people throughout the world are practicing social distancing or distanciamiento social to slow the spread of COVID-19 or corona virus. This mostly means that we are staying home as much as possible. But what can you do with all this time not only to feel productive, but also to keep a sane mind? In this post, I give some examples of creative ways you can practice Spanish while maintaining distancia social.

Photo taken by Elvert Barnes found on Flickr.com with license CC BY-SA 2.0

Aprende algo nuevo!

Working on your Spanish doesn’t mean you should only work on grammar and learn new vocabulary. If you feel comfortable with the level you have, how about trying a new skill in that language. I recently took up piano and I take my classes in Dutch. I am not only learning to play the piano, but for the same price of the piano class, I am constantly practicing the language.

Tocar guitarra

The inspiration of this post came from all the videos circulating of people in Italy and Spain getting together (with distance) to play music or to dance the macarena. This is why I am starting con un instrumento musical. If you have always wanted to play guitar, and you have in your house or know someone who can lend you a guitar, the video below is a great way to start. What I liked about it is that he starts by explaining the different parts of the guitarra like las cuerdas, la caja, la boca, el puente, el brazo o mango, las clavijas. He also explains the postura correcta or the posture you should have when playing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_QIaGgLJ-0?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

Tejer

My whole life I have seen my grandmother spend hours entertained knitting or tejiendo. She has been doing this since she was young and has developed incredible skill. More importantly, she enjoys doing it. Staying indoors means that you can finally get to that chunky blanket you have been wanting to make or perhaps you want to make a spring sweater for when we can finally go out. I liked the video below because she speaks at a good pace and shows you paso a paso or step by step. You can order your materials online and start practicing.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9cFvtXH5Bo?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

Bailar salsa

Staying indoors means that we are getting little or no ejercicio and this next tip will not only entertain you but keep you fit in case you have been eating too many galletas while watching Netflix. My next sugerencia is for you to learn a style of dancing. Part of knowing a language is knowing the culture and dancing is such an important part of Spanish-speaking countries. The video I selected teaches basic salsa steps, but you can look for videos for flamenco, tango, bachata, cumbia or any other dance you have ever wanted to learn. Once you learn some steps, you can just put on some music and start a solo dance party at home. The advantage of this new skill is that there is no additional equipment needed.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbBBYxbtz-w?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

Audiolibros

If you are sharing a home with several people and you need to mentally get away, audiobooks or audiolibros are a great way to do it. You just need some headphones and a comfy place to sit or lay. You can choose to start easy with a short story like El Principito or perhaps with something you are familiar with like Harry Potter. You can also take on the challenge and start with something completely new. There are several apps and major book sellers with countless of audiobook options. I also found several on YouTube that you can access for free. In the video below, you can hear Cien Años de Soledad by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, but there are countless options.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9hjPZbZZm8?feature=oembed&w=500&h=281]

Clases de Español en Linea

If you want to take this time to really dive deep into a language, the best way is to start or retake classes. Transparent Language have several tools, some free and some that require payment, that will help you further your Spanish. You can check out old blog posts that cover grammar. For this, I highly suggest any post by Laura who comes up with some pretty unique listening blog posts, Anais who takes turns writing grammar and cultural posts, or Sasha who writes about his journey learning Spanish. You can also sign up to receive the word of the day on your email, and then make it a point to use it X times throughout the day. Meal times might be the easiest. If you are alone, try writing a short paragraph using the word X times. This can be in a cuento or story, diario or journal, or just your old fashioned sentences. My two cents on the sentences is try to make the sentence as realistic as possible. For example, the word of the day while I write this post is pescar. My sentences could be about my friend Sam who likes to go fishing (true story, I have a friend Sam who goes fishing a lot!).

If you want something more structured to learn Spanish, you can try out Transparent’s monthly or yearly programs. If you live in the US and have a library card, check with your local library if they have a subscription to Transparent!

What are other creative ways to improve and practice your Spanish during distanciamiento social? You can find more ideas and share what you are doing using the #yomequedoencasa or #istayhome.

Advanced Spanish Listening Practice – When to use the Spanish word Lo

In this Spanish lesson we are going to look at and practice when to use the Spanish word Lo. As usual, first we will review some relevant grammar and vocabulary and then see if you can follow a short listening.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

This lesson is part of a Spanish course that practices the grammar and vocabulary first introduced in my Advanced Spanish course posted here on the Transparent Language blog. Let’s test your listening comprehension and see if you can understand a short audio in Spanish. The transcript to the audio will be given at the end of the post but please try not to look at it until you have tried playing and understanding the audio a few times.

Use the following link to watch the corresponding video lesson of the original course:

Advanced Spanish Lesson – When to use the Spanish word Lo

Now play the audio to listen a conversation. Can you understand what is being said? Play the audio a few times before you look at the transcript. Don’t worry if you don’t understand every single thing the two people are saying. Try to catch whichever words you can and then try to piece things together to work out what is being said.

(Play the audio a few times before you scroll down and look at the transcript)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Transcript:

María: Hola Steve ¿Sabías que Pablo se va a vivir a Alemania?

Steve: No, no lo sabía.

María: Pues sí, por lo visto no encuentra trabajo en Madrid y se va la semana que viene a Berlín a buscarse la vida.

Steve: ¿Pero así a lo loco? ¿Sin trabajo ni alojamiento?

María: Sin trabajo ni alojamiento, como lo oyes. A lo mejor tiene amigos que viven allí y puede vivir con ellos una temporada. No lo sé, la verdad.

Steve: Se le veía bastante triste últimamente.

María: Sí, es verdad. Lo que necesita es un cambio de aires. Buscar trabajo día tras día y no encontrar nada es duro.

Steve: Sí, lo es. Tienes razón. Yo tengo suerte con mi trabajo de profesor de inglés. Tengo muchísimos estudiantes ahora.

María: Sí, es que lo que los españoles necesitamos es hablar inglés bien. ¡Te necesitamos Steve!

Steve: Bueno, yo tengo que mejorar mi español también.

María: ¡Qué dices! Lo hablas muy bien.

Steve: Bueno, a veces no comprendo todo lo que la gente dice.

María: Eso es porque los españoles hablamos muy rápido.

Steve: Sí, puede que sea por eso.

 

So, how did you get on? How much did you understand of the listening? Please let me know in the comments section below…

Don’t worry if you didn’t understand that much, keep reviewing the vocabulary and phrases and you will soon be up to speed and ready for the next lesson in this course. See you next time!

Want to hear more? Sign up for one of our newsletters!

For more language learning advice, free resources, and information about how we can help you reach your language goals, select the most relevant newsletter(s) for you and sign up below.

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