List of Spanish False Friends

We’ve previously covered the Spanish words you already know. But what about those that you think you know? False friends are words that look similar in Spanish and English, yet they carry different meaning. Here’s our list of Spanish false friends to watch out for:


Actually, the meaning of the word differs quite a bit.  In Spanish, “actual” means “current”. E.g.: “el actual presidente de EEUU” [the current president of the USA], “en el mundo actual…” [in today’s world].



The word bombero is often taken for ‘bomber’, but in fact it means the opposite. A bombero is a firefighter!



Colegio in Spanish is high school - not college (universidad).



Many learners think desgracia is the Spanish word for disgrace, but this is untrue. Disgrace means dishonor or infamy in English. In Spanish, desgracia is a misfortune or a fatality.



Being embarazada is not a motive to be embarrassed. Embarazada is another Spanish false friend and it means “pregnant”.

spanish false friends embarazada

No reason to feel embarrassed.


Largo is another misleading word. English students usually think it means large, but it actually stands for long. Large should be translated as grande.



Recordar has very little to do with record. Recordar is a Spanish verb meaning to remember.

spanish false friends ropa

Here it is: ropa, not rope. Gafas (glasses), suéter (sweater), pantalones (trousers) y zapatos (shoes).



For a Spanish speaker, it sounds almost impossible to think ropa is a rope. Yet English speakers keep making the same mistake. Ropa means clothes, while rope is cuerda.



Sensible in Spanish is not the same as sensible in English. A sensible person in English is reasonable, acts with good judgement. In Spanish, a sensible person is sensitive or emotional.



The last word in our list of Spanish false friends is vaso. A vaso in Spanish is a glass, e.g.: un vaso con água (a glass of water), not a vase for your flowers!