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11 Spanish Words That Will Trick You

English and Spanish have a long history together. Today, more people than ever are sitting down in the U.S. to learn Spanish in schools and casually. But things are not as simple as they might seem. The Spanish language is full of false cognates that can easily trick you if you don’t look closely enough. We’ve got some of the trickiest Spanish words to use as an English-speaker together here. You might want to keep this before your next slip up!

11. Embarazada

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What it sounds like: Embarrassed

What it actually means: Pregnant

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There you are in Spanish class, reading from some written exercise your teacher assigned you, and you stumble. You describe being embarrassed at something your mother said or did in public, but instead, the classroom hears something else: you became pregnant. Don’t let the way the word sounds fool you: the real word you should use is “avergonzada” if you want people to know you were embarrassed. And of course, you’ll have plenty of chances to use the word to describe how you feel in the near future.

10. Éxito

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What it sounds like: Exit

What it actually means: Success

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Sure, sometimes getting out of something is a form of success, but we’re guessing that’s not always what you mean to say. Having great “éxito” in your Spanish language journey will require knowing the difference. The word you really want is “salida.” You’ll need to find that shortly.

9. Excitado

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What it sounds like: Excited

What it actually means: Aroused

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You might be very excited to see someone, but you very much do not want to sound like you’re that kind of excited to see them. The word you are looking for is “animado” to describe your feelings of excitement that are distinctly not sexy. 

8. Actualmente

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What it sounds like: Actually

What it actually means: Currently

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We all know someone who loves to start their sentences with “Actually – ” before launching into a definition or factoid that we didn’t know. Now it’s our turn. Actually – “actualmente” does not mean actually, it means currently. The phrase you are actually looking for is “en realidad,” which roughly translates back to “in reality.” 

7. Decepción

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What you think it means: Deception

What it actually means: Disappointment

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It’s easy to feel deceived by this false cognate. Deceptive as it might be, the word you are looking for is “engañar.” It’s a standard mishap but you’ve got this – and we’ll make sure you remember especially since you’ll be really disappointed with the response you get from Spanish speakers if you keep misusing this tricky word.

6. Constipación

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What you think it means: Constipation

What it actually means: A cold

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Now trying to explain to your doctor why you’ve had a cold for several days while he asks if you are sure that’s the word you mean to use may sound funny, but it probably won’t be when you realize you’re getting more vapor rub instead of prune juice. If you really find you’re stuck, the word you’re looking for is “estreñimiento.”

5. Fábrica

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What you think it means: Fabric

What it actually means: Factory

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One of these is where the fabric is created, and the other is the fabric itself. Why must these words sound so similar? You’ll be able to keep them separate in your head by remembering that the Spanish word that you’re looking for is “tela,” which is (somewhat) closer to the English word for textile. If you’re still feeling stuck, just remember you often find yourself wrapped in fabric (if you get dressed regularly) but might not want to be in a factory every day.

4. Delito

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What you think it means: Delete

What it actually means: Felony

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Trying to undo something you didn’t mean to type isn’t that complicated, but if you find yourself surrounded by people shaking their heads and looking frightened when you talk about how you deleted something last week and need help, it might be because everyone thinks you just told them you committed a felony. Save yourself the awkwardness and learn the word for “erase” which is pretty close to the English word “delete”: “borrar.”

3. Molestar

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What you think it means: To molest

What it actually means: To bother

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Imagine this:

You approach a cashier at a store and say “sorry to bother you, but does this store carry paperclips?” The cashier stares at you and shakes their head asking you to leave them alone. What’s the matter? Is it not okay to ask for paperclips? Oh wait, maybe you just suggested that you were molesting the cashier and they handwaved you away because they’re not getting paid enough to do all that. Bothering someone is infinitely less serious. If you really want to describe something as serious, the word you are looking for is “abusar.”

2. Pisar

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What you think it means: To piss

What it actually means: To step

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Step right up and learn the difference! Taking yourself to the bathroom? The word you are looking for is “mear.” “Pisar” is to pace or step on something, like a floor. It’ll be a huge difference to the owner of the floor you are talking about, especially if they don’t want pee on their carpet.

1. Esposas

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What you think it means: Wives

What it also means: Handcuffs

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This one is especially frustrating because it’s not even a false cognate. Esposa is wife. Esposas? Many wives. But esposas are also handcuffs, and handcuffing someone is “esposando.” So the guy who thought just got “wifed up”? Yeah he got arrested. Better make sure you get to county jail before you head to the chapel if you think you got it wrong.

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The ACLU Is Challenging The Trump Administration's Attempts To Block People Seeking Asylum

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The ACLU Is Challenging The Trump Administration’s Attempts To Block People Seeking Asylum

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Less than 24 hours after President Trump ordered suspending granting of asylum to migrants crossing the U.S. border, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is seeking to block these new restrictions. The order would ban migrants from applying for asylum outside of U.S. official ports of entry. It would also suspend the granting of asylum to migrants who cross the U.S. border with Mexico illegally for up to 90 days. The proclamation will stand for 90 days or until the U.S. reaches an agreement with Mexico concerning asylum seekers.

The ACLU says the “new asylum ban is illegal” and “neither the president nor his cabinet secretaries can override the clear commands of U.S. law.”

The ACLU, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed the lawsuit on behalf of several immigrant advocacy groups in federal court Nov. 9. The advocacy groups are seeking a court order that would temporarily prevent the government from restricting asylum applications as restrictions have gone into effect. The ACLU released a statement challenging President Trump’s new asylum ban.

“President Trump’s new asylum ban is illegal. Neither the president nor his cabinet secretaries can override the clear commands of U.S. law, but that’s exactly what they’re trying to do. This action undermines the rule of law and is a great moral failure because it tries to take away protections from individuals facing persecution — it’s the opposite of what America should stand for,” Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a press release.

The Immigration and Nationality Act says that people may apply for asylum “whether or not” they enter the U.S. at a port of entry. The Trump administration wants  to change that “or not” part.

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There has been a massive backlog in recent months at border crossings in California, Arizona and Texas. In some cases some people are waiting five weeks to try to claim asylum at San Diego’s main crossing. When someone enters the U.S. without papers they are subject to deportation without a court hearing, unless they say they want to claim asylum or fear persecution in their home country. In those cases, they’re entitled to an interview with an asylum officer. It’s there where the person makes their claim for asylum and the officer determines if there is “credible fear”.

Yet this new rule in place would change the way an individual would claim asylum. A person who enters the U.S. from Mexico without papers between ports of entry would still get an interview with an asylum officer. But the asylum officer is required to check not for a “credible fear of persecution” but instead a “reasonable fear,” which is a higher standard. It requires not just a significant chance of persecution but a determination that persecution is more likely than not. The “reasonable fear” screening has historically been used for immigrants who’ve already been ordered deported and returned to the US, and immigrants who have crime records.

The ratio of both interviews shows huge contrasts with one another. About 75 percent of all asylum seekers pass when it comes to credible fear interviews and a little more than 25 percent pass reasonable fear interviews.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has tried to change immigration polices.

The Trump administration has tried to change immigration policies before and most have been put on hold or taken down by federal judges. The first travel ban back in January 2017, the family separation policy in June 2018 and the administrations continued efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, have all been met with legal roadblocks.

President Trump’s plan to change border laws might have bigger implications when it comes to all that seek asylum.

Although the rule change was aimed at the caravan of families from Central America moving slowly toward the U.S. border, it will have huge implications for asylum seekers of all kinds. The U.S. rules for asylum seekers were designed in cooperation with the United Nations and are protected by federal law. If President Trump is allowed to change the rules for one group of asylum-seekers, he may try to do that for all of them.


READ: More Than 200 Migrant Children Are Still Separated From Their Families Awaiting Asylum Requests

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