Learn Spanish Cognates (The Biggest Hack of All)

31.03.2017 |

Episode #7 of the course How to speak Spanish fluently for beginners by Rype


Today we’re going to talk about your best friend in language learning, cognates.

By being able to read this sentence, you already know thousands of words in Spanish that you can use in your daily conversations.

“Starting to learn a language ‘from scratch’ is essentially impossible because of the vast amount of words you know already through cognates. Action, nation, precipitation, solution, frustration, tradition, communication, extinction, and thousands of other -tion words are spelled exactly the same in French, and you can quickly get used to the different pronunciation.” -Benny Lewis, Founder of Fluentin3months.com


Cognates are your best friend
Since most languages come from a small language family (e.g., Latin languages include Spanish, French, German, Italian, etc.), you can recognize many words that are similar, if not exactly the same. For Spanish (and you already knew English), there are words that are EXACTLY the same in both languages. These are words like: actor, tropical, irregular, usual, action, debate, and exclusive.

It’s nearly impossible to learn Spanish or any language completely from scratch, and there will always be “loan words” that you can use from English or your native language.


Finding cognates for Spanish

As simple as it sounds, there’s a surprisingly a large number of people who won’t take the time to do a simple Google search to identify cognates in Spanish. It’s one of the biggest shortcuts you can take to master Spanish vocabulary faster.

Start by going to Google and typing in “[Spanish] + [Cognates]” or “[Spanish] + [Loan Words].” You’ll be able to find a compiled list of the most common cognates, and you can start memorizing them today.

We also encourage you to take advantage of useful tools like Memrise, which helps you memorize vocabulary or anything you want faster.

Here are some of the most important rules for Spanish cognates that you can leverage today:

Rule # 1. Words that end in -ous in English change to -oso in Spanish


Curious → Curioso
Delicious → Delicioso
Glorious → Glorioso
Mysterious → Misterioso
Numerous → Numeroso

Rule #2. Words that end in -al in English almost always end in -al in Spanish


Hospital → Hospital
Medical → Medical
Final → Final
Ideal → Ideal
Animal → Animal

Rule #3. Words that end in -ic in English change to -ico in Spanish


Basic → Básico
Alcoholic →Alcohólico
Medic → Médico
Organic → Orgánico
Romantic → Romántico

Rule #4. Words that end in -ar in English are always the same in Spanish


Familiar → Familiar
Similar → Similar
Popular → Popular
Vulgar → Vulgar
Regular → Regular

View more of the most popular Spanish cognates.


Treat cognates like your best friend in languages and use them to your advantage. It will significantly shorten your learning curve if used wisely.

Tomorrow, we’re going to dig deep into what learning experts have leveraged to remember 90% of everything they learn. This learning curve is going to fundamentally shift the way you learn anything, including Spanish, moving forward.


Recommended book

“Easy Spanish Phrase Book: Over 700 Phrases for Everyday Use” by Pablo Garcia Loaeza


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