Spanish and English share a common ancestor in Latin for many words we use. While not a "magic bullet" that makes Spanish a breeze to learn, your knowledge of English can actually aid your understanding of Spanish.

First, there are several U.S. cities, particularly in the Southwest, that take Spanish names. While you may know most of them, do you know what they all actually mean?

U.S. Cities With Spanish Names
Los Angeles (CA)
The Angels
Los Vegas (NV)
The Meadows
Las Cruces (NM)
The Crosses
El Paso (TX)
The Pass
Amarillo (TX)

Some words overlap exactly and keep the same meanings, although with a Spanish pronunciation

Same Word, Different Pronunciation
el hospital (silent h)
the hospital
el hotel (silent h)
the hotel
real, royal
general (keeps meaning of both "usually" as well as military term)
central, headquarters
regular, steady, average

Some require a bit of a jump, but not very much, as you can see the jump easily enough. This is usually done through a slightly altered spelling, addition of accent marks or an -a or -o for nouns and adjectives.

Slighty Different Spelling, Same Idea
la gasolina
the gasoline
la inyección
the injection
la causa
the cause
el problema
the problem
el líder
the leader

Typically, words ending in -tion in English have a corresponding -ción or -sión ending in Spanish. And, in Spanish, they are almost always of the feminine gender as an easy way to remember that.

"-tion" in English corresponds to "-ción" or "-sión" in Spanish
la acción
the action
la generación
the generation
la nación
the nation
la opción
the option
la desición
the decision

Many words in Spanish that begin with "es-" often translate over into starting with an "s" in English. Whenever you see an es- beginning, you can usually make sense of the word by mentally crossing out the e.

"es-" in Spanish usually corresponds to "s-" in English
to write (think of scribes)
el estrés
the stress
el espacio
the space
la escala
the scale
la esposa
the spouse

However, you have to be careful, some words are spelled the same or almost the same but mean totally different things. Be careful, these are a few of the "false friends" in Spanish.

Spanish False Cognates (Same Spelling, Diffrenet Meaning)
Spanish: actual
English: current
Spanish: el red
English: the net (both the tool and the Internet), network
Spanish: el fin
English: the end
Spanish: la fábrica
English: the factory

We hope this shows you that there is indeed power in words you already know. As we have pointed out, you'll find words beginning with -es, words that end in -sión and -ción to be very easy to pick up, as well as words that end in -al, they are typically the same. As Spanish and English continue to influence each other, we will no doubt find that there is a continued influence between the two. However, don't always assume the word will mean the same thing if you slap an el and an -o to the end of the word. But still, isn't it cool to know that you basically already knew that many words in Spanish, and you weren't even trying?

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