Unit 1: Introduction

1.5 Cognates

Cognates are words that are recognizable in form and meaning. Conversely, words identical or similar in form but which have a different meaning are “false friends.” These words can present particular problems when trying to deduce meaning, and are indicated throughout the text and also appear in a list at the end of the textbook (see False Friends list). One example is pariente, which means “relative” and not “parent” (padre).

A. Words identical or almost identical in spelling and meaning:

ideal, hospital, final, mental, federal, altar, popular, superior, error, doctor, noble, acceptable, terrible, hotel. unión, televisión, ocasión, radio, comercial, imposible, región, remoto

B. Most words ending in -ción correspond to the English suffix -tion:

perfección perfection
nación nation
ambición ambition
construcción construction

C. Many words ending in -tad or -dad correspond to the English suffix -ty:

libertad liberty
estabilidad stability
entidad entity
dificultad difficulty

D. Many words ending in -ez correspond to the English suffix -ity or –ness:

sencillez simplicity
escasez scarcity, scarceness
timidez timidity, timidness
vejez oldness, old age

E. Spanish words ending in -oso, and their feminine and plural forms, almost always correspond to the English suffix -ous:

industrioso-a industrious
supersticioso-a superstitious (fem.)

F. Many Spanish nouns ending in -cio or -cia correspond to the English suffix –nce:

inocencia innocence
silencio silence

G. Spanish words ending in -mento or -miento usually have the same meaning as their English counterpart:

movimiento movement
parlamento parliament


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