Words in the English language that cause CONFUSION to students

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* This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

There are many words in the English language that cause CONFUSION to students as they are similar in meaning to other words in English or they are “false friends” (false cognates) which are pairs of words in two languages that look or sound similar, but have very different meanings.

An example of a false friend is the English word ARGUMENT, which means “discusión” in Spanish, not “argumento”. Here is a sample of some of the words that Spanish speaking students most commonly confuse with examples to help clarify the different meanings.

FUN & FUNNY

FUN: noun or adjective. Something FUN is something you really ENJOY. (Sustantivo: diversion; Adjetivo: divertido)
FUNNY: adjective. If something is FUNNY it makes you LAUGH. (gracioso, cómico)
EXAMPLES:
The birthday party was FUN.
That clown is very FUNNY.

ASSIST & ATTEND

ASSIST: verb. To HELP, be of assistance. (ayudar)
ATTEND: verb. To BE PRESENT at a meeting, party or other event (asistir)
EXAMPLES:
A customer service representative will ASSIST you at that desk.
We hope that all the guests will ATTEND the conference.

WORK & JOB

WORK: an uncountable noun or verb. (Sustantivo: empleo/trabajo en general; Verbo: trabajar, funcionar)
JOB: a countable noun. (un trabajo)
EXAMPLES:
He WORKS 9 hours a day.
He has had 3 different JOBS this year.

CURRENTLY & ACTUALLY

CURRENTLY: adverb. What is happening nowadays (actualmente)
ACTUALLY: adverb. Really or as a matter of fact (realmente, en realidad/de hecho)
EXAMPLES:
I am CURRENTLY living in my parents house.
It is easier to say it than ACTUALLY do it.

TRAVEL, JOURNEY & TRIP

TRAVEL: verb. To go from one place to another (viajar)
JOURNEY: noun. Passage from one place to another. (recorrido/viaje)
TRIP: noun. Short time spent in a place (viaje)
EXAMPLES:
I love TRAVELING! The last TRIP I took was to Paris. It was fantastic, but the JOURNEY by bus from Barcelona was horrible.

SEE, LOOK AT & WATCH

SEE: verb. To notice things or people with your eyes (ver)
LOOK AT: verb. When you try to see something or someone (mirar)
WATCH: verb. To look at something for a period of time (mirar programa)
EXAMPLES:
Did you SEE that shooting star?
LOOK AT that little boy! I think he´s going to fall off his bike!
Let’s WATCH a film after dinner.

STAY & SPEND

STAY: to continue in one place or to continue doing something (quedar/permanecer/ continuar)
SPEND: to use time/to use money (pasar/gastar)
EXAMPLES:
Where did you STAY when you went to Paris? We STAYED at a hotel.
Yesterday I SPENT the whole day in bed./We SPENT most of our money on food and drinks.

* This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

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