lunes, 9 de mayo de 2016

Eight Spanish words that don't mean what you think

There are plenty of Spanish words that look and sound like they should mean one thing and are frequently used incorrectly by non-speakers. Here's eight of those words so you don't sound quite as dumb the next time you're trying to communicate.

1. Colegio
What you think it means: College
What it actually means: High school
You could probably pass this one off in the right context, but there's still a big difference between college and high school in most situations. "College" translates into "universidad," so it's not so hard to remember that one.
2. Molestar
What you think it means: Molest (or maybe molester)
What it actually means: Bother
Alright, so technically "molest" is just another word for "bother," but that's not really how it's used anymore. It's an innocent (if not annoying) action in Spanish, and generally quite the opposite in English. There's not really a single word for "molest" in Spanish, but "sexual abuse" is "abusar sexualmente," which is close and disturbing enough.
3. Fábrica
What you think it means: Fabric
What it actually means: Factory
There are plenty of factories that create fabric, but they're virtually never interchangeable. If you need the actual word for "fabric," just stick with "tela." Otherwise, you'll barely be half of a step above your super white neighbor who just says things like "fabric-o" when pretending to speak Spanish.

4. Pretender

What you think it means: To pretend (or pretender, if you're clueless)
What it actually means: To attempt
To make matters even more confusing, plenty of Spanish words are spelled the exact same as English words with completely different meanings. "Pretender" in Spanish doesn't mean anything remotely close to its English counterpart. In Spanish, it's also used for making an attempt romantically, as well.

5. Éxito

What you think it means: Exit
What it actually means: Success
Despite the fact that "SALIDA" is written in big letters on many an exit sign, people still assume that if you add an "o" to any English word, it's the Spanish equivalent. "Éxito" is one of the terms that ruins unfounded confidence all over the country. To be fair, it could be a success when you find an exit in some situations.

6. Actual

What you think it means: Actual
What it actually means: Current
The Spanish version isn't pronounced exactly like "actual" in English, but it's close enough and looks identical on paper. Something could be current and actual, but there's plenty of times when people are looking for one and come up with the other.

7. Últimamente

What you think it means: Ultimately
What it actually means: Recently
A good amount of people know that adding "-mente" to most Spanish words is the equivalent of "-ly" in English. Unfortunately, it doesn't always translate to the same word. There's actually no direct Spanish word for "ultimately," so just stick with "at the end" which is "al final."

8. Tuna

What you think it means: Tuna
What it actually means: Prickly pear
Just when you thought tuna was tuna, it turns out that "tuna" in Spanish is actually prickly pear. This one could cause chaos on a menu, as the two delicious items are very different. For the fish, try "atún" instead. It should wok better.

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