When I first heard the word “sopa”, I thought it meant “soap”. Well, “sopa” is “soup”, “jabón” is “soap”. Confusing, isn’t it? Why does it have to be so different?! Well, Spanish speakers are probably feeling the same.
- la sopa = soup
- el jabón = soap
Another interesting false cognate is the word for “fabric”. Spanish word “la fábrica” doesn’t mean “fabric” like it sounds. The words “fabric” are “el tejido”, “la tela” or “el trapo (this is more for ‘rag’)”.
- el tejido, la tela = cloth
- el trapo = rag
- la fábrica = factory
But these kinds of false cognates are not so difficult to figure out. You simply have to memorize as vocabulary. The trickier false cognates are the ones that are exactly the same words but have different nuances such as: “la cuestión” and “la pregunta”. You can’t use the word “la cuestión” when you want to ask “a question” because it has a different meaning in Spanish.
- la cuestión = the matter, issue
Será cuestión de tiempo.
(It will be a matter of time.)
La herencia familiar es cuestión delicada para José y Juan. No lo hable con ellos.
(The family inheritance is a delicate issue for Jose and Juan. Don’t talk about it with them.)
- una pregunta = a question
María siempre tiene mucha preguntas sobre la historia guatemalteca en la clase.
(Maria always has a lot of questions about the Guatemalan history in class.)