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This Simple Hack Will Help You Learn Spanish Cognates

Overview: In today’s Spanish grammar lesson, we’ll share the one skill you can use to significantly shortcut your learning process — Spanish cognates. Learning cognates does not have to be hard or tricky, and in this lesson you’ll see the simple ways to learn them.
Who it’s for: Everyone
Skill level: For beginners


Cognates in Spanish

In today’s free Spanish class Jordan, your fellow English speaker, shares a simple philosophy and hack that will accelerate your learning process. The best thing you can do to learn a language as quickly as possible, is to only study and memorize words that are easy or very common. Spanish cognates are a great example of easy words to learn in a heartbeat. When you follow this simple strategy, your vocabulary will increase naturally as you start to speak, read, and write more in that language. Spanish cognates are the gateway to learning more complex words.

In today’s lesson we will cover words, which are especially easy to learn and implement in daily life. The easiest words to learn are cognates. Cognates are words that are exactly the same in either language or almost the same. Example: “actor” in English is “actor” in Spanish. The only difference is the pronunciation.

Words that end with “or” are always exactly the same in Spanish as they are in English. Other examples would be:

En/ color

Sp/ el color

En/ director

Sp/ el director

En/ doctor

Sp/ el doctor

Another easy hack is the fact that many words in English that end in “tion” are the same in Spanish except the ending changes to “ción”. Some examples:

En/ nation

Sp/ la nación

En/ celebration

Sp/ la celebración

En/ definition

Sp/ la definición

En/ exeption

Sp/ la exepción

En/ tradition

Sp/ la tradición

For some of the words following this pattern, you do have to watch for slight spelling changes. These are usually in place to conserve the sound of the word. Examples:

En/ abbreviation

Sp/ abreviación

When there is a double letter in English, which only makes one sound, you usually drop one of the letters in Spanish. Another example of this:

En/ association

Sp/ la asociación

However, it can also go the opposite way. Remember in Spanish double letters always serve a purpose.

En/ action

Sp/ la acción

The reason there is a double C in “la acción” becomes clear when you divide the word into two parts: ac-ción. The word contains two C sounds. If one C were missing it would sound like “ación” (a-ssion).

One less common spelling change that might come up is the change from the English I double M to the Spanish NM. Example of this:

En/ immigration

Sp/ la inmigración

Don’t worry, these irregularities may seem confusing at first, but will begin to feel natural to you with time and practice. Jordan also points out that Spanish irregularities are often systematic.

A few other tips before you start to practice:

Memorize Spanish words including their articles. The sex of the word is important in Spanish. If you want to learn Spanish it’s best to learn it sooner rather than later.
Just because a word is a cognate, doesn’t mean it’s used the same way in Spanish as it is in English. A cognate is simply a word that appears the same because it has the same origin. They are often used in the same context but not always. (la dirección = address/ direction)

Thanks for watching today’s class, remember the most important part of learning a language is using it! Learning cognates will help you implement those words as soon as possible.