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La Roja’s Gringa Guide to Spanish: Dangerous False Cognates

by Amanda La Gringa
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Gringa Guide to Spanish Lesson 1: False Cognates!

During Spanish 101, gringos always learn a handful of false cognates that always trip us up. Now, in case you’re not big on grammar, the term cognate refers to words in different languages that look alike, so false cognates are words that look similar but have very different meanings. For example, teachers were very careful to point out that sopa did not mean soap, but rather soup. At my conservative high school, however, they failed to mention some particularly dangerous false cognates that have gotten me into a handful of awkward situations. That is why, I bring to you, the list of the most dangerous false cognates that every gringa should avoid:

1. Excitada ≠ Emocionada

Estoy excitada is not an appropriate way to express your excitement (like about an upcoming concert or vacation), but rather the way to express the OTHER type of excitement- aka I am horny and ready to go to bed with you. So, please…unless that is your intention, stick with Estoy emocionada to say you’re excited.

2. Embarazada ≠ Tener verguenza

Now, your teacher might have taught you this one in Spanish class, but it’s worth the reminder. I made this mistake on several occasions during my early Spanish-learning years and it’s never fun. If you’re embarrassed about something, please don’t say you are embarazada unless you are embarrassed about being PREGNANT. So, while it takes some getting used to, Tengo verguenza,  or me da pena is your best bet!

3. Caliente ≠ tener calor

Gringos make this mistake all the time. While, caliente does refer to the heat-level of food and other inanimate objects, I would suggest avoiding the use of Estoy caliente when trying to express the fact that you are literally warm/hot (temperature). Similar to excitada, you are again openly expressing your level of horny-ness. But..now, that I think about it, both of those phrases could result in your clothes being taken off, so it might not be the worse thing if you really are burning up.

That’s all for now! Is it just me or is Spanish filled with traps to trick us Gringas into embarrassing ourselves? Think of all of those poor, innocent white girls!

Did I miss a dangerous false cognate that has got you into trouble? Please share it with us in the comment section below!

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[…] start collaborating, I get super emocianada (NOT excitada, thanks for clearing that up for me, La Roja!). There is just something about having one artist that you love get together with another artist […]


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