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10 “False Friends”​ between Spanish and Portuguese

Spanish (ES) and Portuguese (PT) are the two most widely spoken languages around Latin America. Knowing one of these languages makes it a lot easier to learn the other. However, there are various “false friends” to beware of! 

“False friends” – formally known as false cognates – are words that look similar in the two languages but have completely different meanings. If you know one of these languages and want to learn the other, keep an eye out for these 10 “false friends”! 

1) Asistir (ES) / Assistir (PT) 

Spanish: to attend

Example: ¿Te gustaría asistir a un partido de fútbol conmigo? 

English translation: Would you like to attend a football match with me?

Portuguese: to watch 

Example: Você gostaria de assistir a um jogo de futebol comigo?

English translation: Would you like to watch a football match with me?

 2) Pegar 

Spanish: to hit

Example: Mi hermano me pega

English translation: My brother hits me.

Portuguese: to pick up

Example: Meu irmão me pega. 

English translation. My brother picks me up.

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3) Perú (ES) / Peru (PT)

Spanish: Peru (country)

Example: Yo amo Perú.

English translation: I love Peru. 

Portuguese: turkey 

Example: Eu amo comer peru.

English translation: I love to eat turkey. 

4) Pronto

Spanish: soon

Example: Voy llegar pronto

English translation: I’ll arrive soon.

Portuguese: ready

Example: Estou pronto.

English translation: I am ready.  

5) Borracha

Spanish: drunk (girl)

Example: Esa chica borracha necesita ayuda. 

English translation: That drunk girl needs help. 

Portuguese: eraser/rubber

Example: Eu preciso de uma borracha.

English translation: I need an eraser.

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6) Atender

Spanish: to serve

Example: ¿Nos van a atender?

English translation: Are they going to serve us?

Portuguese: to answer (the phone)

Example: Você vai atender o telefone?

English translation: Are you going to answer the phone?

7) Novio (ES) / Noivo (PT)

Spanish: Boyfriend

Example: Vivo con mi novio

English translation: I live with my boyfriend.

Portuguese: Fiancé

Example: Moro com meu noivo

English translation: I live with my fiancé.

8) Aceite (ES) / Aceitar (PT)

Spanish: oil

Example: Agregue más aceite al plato.

English translation: Add more oil to the dish.

Portuguese: to accept

Example: Eu não quero aceitar isso.

English translation: I don’t want to accept that.

9) Acordar

Spanish: to agree

Example: ¿Estás de acuerdo?

English translation: Do you agree?

Portuguese: to wake up

Example: Você acordou?

English translation: Did you wake up?

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10) Largo/a

Spanish: long

Example: La reunión fue larga.

English translation: The meeting was long.

Portuguese: wide

Example: A mesa é larga.

English translation: The table is wide

Do you know any other false friends between Spanish and Portuguese? Share them in the comments below! 

Ellier Leng
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