Your Weekly Dose of Spanish by Spaniology: Semana 14

Published in Dungarvan Leader Page 11 on Tuesday 26th of October 2021


After having dedicated one instalment of this column to false friends —or, as my girlfriend has creatively termed them, friendly foes—, I thought fitting also to dedicate one to their exact counterparts. This is to say, similar words between Spanish and English which do have the same meaning.

Knowing a few simple rules will allow us to, not only identify easily a good bulk of Spanish vocabulary, but also to chance our arm at finding the right word when attempting to communicate in Spanish. These hints refer to somewhat formal lexicon of Latin origin, so one ought to step into a moderately pedantic zone when resorting to these techniques.

To start off, the Latin suffix -tās, used to indicate state or condition, evolves normally into the Spanish -dad and into the English -ty (e.g. universidad/university). Knowing this, it will certainly not be extremely intricate to figure out words like dificultad, realidad, calamidad and vanidad.

The Latin suffix -tiō, used to form a noun from an action, results in the Spanish -ción and the English -tion (e.g. revolución/revolution). This will allow us to make our way comfortably around words like celebración, compensación, integración and concentración.

Now, -ārius will give us the Spanish -ario and English -ary (e.g. adversario/adversary), which will open the gates to terms like aniversario, veterinario, primario and rosario.

Next will be -icus, used to form an adjective, yielding the Spanish -ico and English -ic (e.g. automático/automatic). A new plethora of vocabulary will now be made available, including the likes of fantástico, plástico, básico and mágico.

From the suffix -ōsus, forming an adjective from a noun, we obtain the Spanish -oso and the English -ous (e.g. religioso/religious). We are then presented with terms like misterioso, curioso, glorioso and delicioso.

Some of the Latin participles ending in -ctus will develop into the Spanish -cto and the English -ct (e.g. abstracto/abstract). It is then the turn for words like perfecto, compacto, correcto and contacto.

The Latin present participle -āns arrives to us in Spanish as -ante and in English as -ant (e.g. abundante/abundant). Elegante, instante, vacante or importante make now their appearance.

The Latin -ficāre (to make) finds its equivalent in the Spanish -ficar and the English -fy (e.g. sacrificar/sacrify), paving the way for verificar, certificar, crucificar or justificar.

If this were not enough, some terminations like -al, -ar and -ble give us exact matches. This bestows upon us the greatest gift of all when we encounter Spanish terms like normal, tropical, regular, similar, visible and horrible.

These are but a few examples of the similarities we can find between English and Spanish vocabulary. I am sure that a whole new world of possibilities has just opened before your very eyes and that next time you are on holidays in Spain your communication resources will be vastly enlarged.

* Here is your weekly dose of Spanish: Es de vital importancia comparar vocabulario similar [It is of vital importance to compare similar vocabulary]

Sergio Fernández Redondo

Sergio hails from Asturias in northern Spain and has recently relocated to Dungarvan, where he is a Spanish teacher and PR specialist at Spaniology. Having an eclectic background in engineering, translation and linguistics, he is also a keen aficionado of history and languages.


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