Use Cognates to Learn Spanish

28 November, 2018

What is a cognate and how can you use it to learn Spanish?


Many English words and Spanish words have Latin or Greek roots and the same meaning. These words are called cognates.

The Spanish language borrows many English words and, vice versa, English borrows many Spanish words. By knowing a few simple rules, you can learn Spanish fast by quickly expand your Spanish vocabulary.


So, a cognate is a word related to one in another language. They are also called transparent words because they have similar or identical forms and meaning in both languages. The pronunciation reflects the phonological system of each language.


How Do Cognates Work?

In English they say “ocean” and in Spanish we say “océano.” English and Spanish speakers can easily make the connection between these cognates to learn and remember the name of this place.


In English, they say “house” but in Spanish we say “casa.” House and casa are not cognates, and the lack of connection means learners will find those words harder to use and remember.


We know that people need to use their new language to really learn it. Cognates make it possible for language learners as you to use your new words right away. By starting with the cognate words, a learner can build their vocabulary and gain the confidence to add more words in their new language.



Therefore, we can identify some general rules you can use to understand how English and Spanish cognates relate:


  • –ous in English becomes –oso in Spanish (e.g. famous = famoso)


  • –ance in English becomes –ancia in Spanish (e.g. importance = importancia)


  • –ity in English becomes –idad in Spanish (e.g. hability = habilidad)



Here are some of the most common types of cognate patterns:


1. Spanish cognates without spelling changes:


actor actor
hospital hospital
idea idea


2. Spanish cognates that change –ct  to –cto:


contact contacto
perfect perfecto
correct correcto


3. Spanish cognates that change  –ic  to –ico:


comic cómico
dramatic dramático
fantastic fantástico


4. Spanish cognates that change –tion to –ción:


construction construcción
condition condición
adaptation adaptación


5. Spanish cognates that change –ary to –ario:


salary salario
vocabulary vocabulario
contrary contrario



So, following the previous information, which would be the word in Spanish for “academic”👉 _________.


Tell us your answer on our comments👇😃.


Thank you for reading us! If you want to learn more tips about learning vocabulary in Spanish, click here.



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