Spanish cognates refer to those words which are convertible between the English and Spanish languages. Spanish cognates form the basis of developing Spanish vocabulary. For native English speakers it isn’t far-fetched because many words of English are similar to Spanish words.
Conversely for a Spanish student learning English cognates can make it easier to pick up the language. While the words may sound alike in Spanish and English you should be aware that they can mean quite different things. There are only a few words which are very similar between these languages which have entirely different meanings.
Elaboration of Spanish Cognates
Specifically Spanish cognates are those words which originate from the same root in the Latin language and are similar in each language. However, the translation to the other language is not always precise and meanings may differ.
A good example of this is that inferior is utilized in English to refer to something of bad quality whereas in Spanish it is utilized to refer to someone junior.
In English the word informal refers to something casual whereas in Spanish it has the connotation for unreliable. These terms are referred to as false cognates.
However, on the flip side you have many English words that can be translated into Spanish with most of their literal meaning intact. Cognates can be classified into suffix categories and it’s easy to remember them if you group them into adverbs, verbs, adjectives and nouns.
Spanish cognates -nouns
Most of the Spanish nouns can be converted easily to English nouns. This is because Spanish and English nouns which end in the suffix –or are identical for the most part. Good examples of this are the words actor, horror, director and color which are similar in both languages and mean the same as well.
The second kinds of words which follow the grammatical classification of nouns are all those English and Spanish nouns which end in the suffix –al. These include words like general, manual, animal and moral.
Conversions of Nouns
Furthermore, some of the nouns in English which end with the suffix -ist can be converted to Spanish nouns by adding the suffix –ista. Words like artist, socialist and tourist are simply converted into Spanish terms artista, socialista and tourista. Words with the suffix -ism like optimism, mechanism and organism are converted into Spanish nouns by adding the suffix -ismo which makes them optimismo, mechanismo, organismo.
Conversion of Adjectives
For a brief look at adjectives that need to be converted into Spanish you simply need to convert the suffix using the following rules.
Any English word that ends with the suffixes -ive, -al, -ous, -ic, and -ble can be converted into Spanish by using the suffix -ivo, -al, -oso, -ico, and -ble.
For example active becomes activo while usual stays as usual. However delicious is converted to delicioso and fantastic becomes fantastico whereas terrible stays the same.
Similar rules are followed for words and adverbs where the English word is converted to the Spanish word by adding the suffix of ‘-ar’, ‘-er’ or ‘-ir’.