False friends between Spanish and PortuguesePortugal and Spain share many centuries of culture and history. As real brothers, these countries have fought with each other (to expand their territories, both, in the Iberian Peninsula and America) and they felt envy of the other’s success. However, both nations feel a kind of love for the other.

Linguistically, the Portuguese and Spanish languages are quite similar in grammar and vocabulary; on the other hand, their phonetic systems differ a lot (Portuguese’ one is more complex).

Today, at www.spanishviaskype.com, we’re going to focus on the vocabulary, on false friends, in particular.

Los falsos amigos, falsos cognatos (in Portuguese) or false friends, are foreign words which are very similar to others in a different language in its form but not in its meaning. There are false friends in all languages and they often cause a mess among our students.

1. “Acepta” siempre “aceite” como regalo

Olive oil is called “green gold” in the Mediterranean area. It’s important, not only for gastronomy but also for health. Therefore, its name causes confussion. The Portuguese term is “óleo”, the same root to other languages like English, Italian or French. However, in Spanish is used the Arabic “aceite”; but there is a Portuguese “aceite”, too, from the verb “aceitar” (to accept), with the meaning of the past participle “accepted” in English.

2. ¿Una “mota” de “polvo” o una “moto” de “pulpo”?

Una mota de polvo is a speck of dust. This common phrase in Spanish will be absolutely misunderstood by a Portuguese speaker, even more if he or she is driving a motorbike (“mota” in Portuguese) and he or she is going to eat octopus (“polvo” in Portuguese).

3. Nunca debes “chatear” con un portugués

Are Portuguese bad conversationalists? Not at all. They usually speak using a nice tone of voice and the musicality of their language makes us enjoy having a chat with them. The problem is the Portuguese verb “chatear” that means “to bother” or “to annoy”. It’s better if you use conversar” with them.

4. Los “bocadillos” no son siempre “pequeños” en Portugal

Although the term “bocadillo” is formed by a diminutive –illo, it’s usual to find sandwiches as long as your arm in Spanish bars and restaurants. What would our neighbours understand if we order one of them? They would probably ask this back to us: a little bit of what? “Bocadinho” means a small amount of something in Portuguese.

5. Nos encantan los “dulces” españoles, pero “doce” son demasiados

Spanish gastronomy is as rich as Portuguese one, and our confectionary is also wonderful. However, if you, Portuguese friend, are in a Spanish restaurant at dessert time, and you order “doce”, you will need room enough in your belly to eat twelve sweet dishes. The waiter will not know that you really mean “sweets” (“doce” in Portuguese) and not “twelve” (“doze”).

6. Los “vaqueros” son una “ganga” en España

Don’t trust this tittle. Los vaqueros (“jeans” in Spanish) cost probably the same in both countries. Maybe in January you can find “gangas” (“bargains” in Spanish) to buy good “gangas” (“jeans” in Portuguese).

7. Sirven “tapas” muy violentas en Portugal

If you order “una tapa” in a Spanish bar, you will get one of the most typical dishes in our country. However, if you order the same in a Portuguese bar, you might get a slap on your face. So, be sure to order “um petisco” and you will taste the Portuguese version of our tapas.

False friends can be very dangerous. At www.spanishviaskype.com, we don’t offer a faithful friend, but a professional teacher who will help you to improve your Spanish level. If you want to try a free trial lesson, click here; you only need Skype, free time and a goal, we’ll bring the rest.