Portuguese and Spanish are closely-related. The languages share a similar structure and many words have similar meanings. These similarities make watching out for false friends between the languages especially important. In a previous lesson, we provided several examples of why you should not assume that similarly-spelled words mean the same things in Portuguese and Spanish. Building on that lesson, here are another seven pairs of Portuguese-Spanish false friends.
If you need more help with false friends, or any other aspect of Portuguese or Spanish, contact the Language Island in Atlanta. Our highly-qualified teachers offer classes that are custom-tailored to your individual needs.
Barata and Barata
Barata has the same meaning in both Portuguese and Spanish: cheap or inexpensive. Barata can also mean “cockroach” in Portuguese but not in Spanish. The Spanish word for cockroach is cucaracha.
Cena and Cena
The Portugese cena means “scene, stage, theater, or spectacle.” The Spanish cena means “dinner, supper, or evening meal.”
Escritório and Escritorio
These false friends have related yet distinct meanings. The Portuguese escritório means “office.” Depending on its usage, it can also refer to a cabinet, chamber, or closet. One thing escritório cannot mean is “a desk.” On the other hand, a “(writing) desk” is precisely what the Spanish escritorio means.
Estafa and Estafa
When used in Portuguese, estafa usually indicates “fatigue or weariness.” When used in Spanish, estafa has a very different meaning: a con, fraud, robbery, or swindle.
Quarto and Cuarto
Both of these words can be used to refer to rooms. However, only the Portuguese quarto can mean a bedroom.
Rato and Rato
In Portuguese, rato means “mouse or rat.” In Spanish, however, rato means “while, time, a bit, little,” and so on.
Trair and Traer
The Portugese trair can mean to “betray, sell, fail, or let down.” The Spanish traer means to “bring (along), carry, get, etc.”