Lesson 18:
Congnates / Pronominal Verbs

Congnates / Pronominal Verbs

Cognates are words in Spanish and English that are spelled the same or similar, but the pronunciation can be similar or different.

There are three types of cognates:

Exacts: which writing and meaning is the same.

Spanish English
capital capital
error error

Semi-exacts: which have the same meaning, but have variation in their writing.

Spanish English
automóvil automobile
vehículo vehicle

Fake cognates: when writing is the same or similar, but the meaning is completely different. Sometimes if the word has two meanings in one match but differ in another.

“Vulgar” in Spanish = common, popular

“Vulgar” in English = grosero, coarse, plebian


Some cognates:

accidente accident hotel hotel
acento accent humor humor
acompañar to accompany idea idea
aeropuerto airport importante important
alérgico allergic imposible impossible
ambulancia ambulance información information
aniversario anniversary ingeniería engineering
apartamento apartment inspector inspector
apendicitis appendicitis instinto instinct
aspirina aspirin inteligente intelligent
automático automatic interés interest
banano banana interesante insteresting
biología biology interior interior
blusa blouse inyección injection, shot
café coffee kilómetro kilometer
cafeterìa cafeteria latinoamericano latin american
calculadora calculator libertad liberty
champán champagne lista list
champú shampoo literatura literatura
cheque check matemáticas mathematics
ciencia science mayoría majority
círculo circle mecánico mechanic
clase class medicina medicine
club club melón melon
coctel cocktail menú menu
comedia comedy moderno modern
compacto compact montaña mountain
compañía company motocicleta motorcycle
computadora computer motor motor
concierto concert museo museum
conversación conversation musical musical
cooperación cooperation natural natural
decisión decision objetivo objective
departamento department, section objeto object
dieta diet oportunidad opportunity
discusión discussion palacio palace
docena dozen par pair
dólar dollar parque park
drama drama penicilina penicillin
elegante elegant perfectamente perfectly
emergencia emergency permanente permanent
ensalada salad pesimista pessimist
escuela school planes plans
español Spanish psicología psychology
especial special puntual punctual
especialidad specialty radiador radiator
especialmente specially recepcionista receptionist
estadio stadium refrigerador refrigerator
estado state región region
examen exam respeto respect
excelente excellent restaurante restaurant
exceso excess sandalias sandals
excursión excursion sandwich sandwich
extinto extinct sección section
familia family semestre semester
famoso famous septiembre september
farmacia pharmacy, drugstore solución solution
favorito favorite sorpresa surprise
filtro filter suficiente sufficient
fortuna fortune sujeto subject
frecuentemente frequently supermercado supermarket
garaje garage tabaco tabacco
gasolina gasoline tomate tomato
general general utensilios utensils
generalmente generally válido valid
horriblemente horribly

Fake cognates:

English Spanish Fake cognates English
actually realmente actualmente nowadays
ago hace hago I do, I make
announcer locutor anuncio advertisement
application solicitud aplicación diligence
character personaje carácter personality, nature
card tarjeta carta letter
carpet alfombra carpeta folder, portfolio
correspondent corresponsal correspondiente respective
customs aduana costumbre custom
devil demonio débil weak
embarrassed avergonzado embarazada pregnant
embassy embajada embase dam, bottle
exit salida éxito success
fabric tela fabrica factory
lecture conferencia lectura reading
library biblioteca librería bookstore
major studies especialidad mayor major in armed services
minor studies segunda especialidad menor younger
mirror espejo miro I see
move from one home to another mudarse mover to move something
once una vez once eleven
player jugador playera t-shirt
question pregunta cuestión matter
related relacionado de relato narration
rest descanso resto the remains
salad ensalada salado salty
soap jabón sopa soup
subject asunto, tema sujeto subject of a sentence

Pronominal verbs

The pronominal verbs are those in which the action of the verb affects the same person doing the action.

In Spanish there are four types of pronominal verbs:

Reflexive Verbs Verbos Reflexivos
Reciprocal Verbs Verbos Recíprocos
Quasi-reflection Verbs Verbos Cuasi-reflejos
Fully Pronominal Verbs Verbos Totalmente Pronominales

Reflexive Verbs

These are special verbs that receive the action of the verb back to the subject performing the action. These verbs, besides the endings “-ar”, “-er” and “-ir” ending in “se” and this ending was changed by the reflexive pronouns respectively for each person. You can recognize them because they accept reflective reinforcements: myself, yourself, himself.

The reflexive pronouns are:

me, te, se, nos, se


bañarse levantarse vestirse
peinarse levantarse quitarse
despertarse pararse rasurase
sentarse acostarse ponerse

The reflexive verbs in the pronominal form performs the function as the direct object (d.o), but there can be another direct and indirect object (i.o) in the sentence. You can recognize them because they accept reflective reinforcements: myself, yourself, himself.


I wash myself . I wash my hands.
Yo me lavo. Yo me lavo las manos.
d.o. i.o. d.o.

She puts on makeup. She uses lipstick.
Ella se maquilla. Ella se maquilla los labios.
d.o. i.o. d.o.

Mary has put the hat on.
María se ha puesto el sombrero.
i.o. d.o.

Reciprocal Verbs

These verbs express a mutual action between two or more subjects and use only the following pronouns:

Se (third person, singular and plural)

Nos (of nosotros “we”)

This is because the reinforcement is mutually accepted.


abrazarse casarse gustarse
besarse mirarse amarse
saludarse encontrarse escribirse

María y Carlos se casaron ayer.
Mary and Charles got married yesterday.

Nosotros nos conocimos en el aeropuerto.
We met at the airport.

Ellos se gustan el uno al otro.
They like each other.

Quasi-reflection Verbs

These verbs have reflexive forms, but they don’t have reflexive meanings; the action doesn’t return to the subject that makes the action.

They can mean movement, emotion, will, physical and mental changes. It’s used in all reflexive pronouns.


La anciana se desmayó del susto.
The old woman fainted from fright.

Juan se puso rojo de la vergüenza.
John turned red of embarrassment.

Pedro se fue a la calle sin abrigo.
Peter went outside without a coat.

Tú te volviste loca con la noticia.
You went crazy with the news.

Nosotros nos perdimos en la ciudad. Es muy grande.
We got lost in the city. It is very large.

El perro se murió en la calle.
The dog died on the street.

Quasi-reflections verbs expressing accident

Used to express that no person is responsible for the action, expressing that nobody’s at fault. It uses only the reflexive pronoun “se”.


El vaso se quebró.
The glass broke.

La ropa se mojó.
The clothes got wet.

La comida se quemó.
The food burned.

La flor se marchitó.
The flower wilted.

But when a person, animal or thing is affected by the unexpected event, the indirect object pronoun is used to accompany the reflexive pronoun “se”.


Se me perdieron las llaves.
I lost the keys.

Se te quebró el vaso.
You broke the glass.

Se les quemó la fábrica.
The factory burned down.

Se les mojó la ropa.
Their clothes got wet.

This form is used to express that it was not someone’s fault what happened, it was just an accident.

Emphasis reflexive verbs

These verbs use reflexive pronouns, only to be more expressive or to give more emphasis to the action.


El albañil se cayó del andamio.
The construction worker fell from the scaffolding.

El gato se comió la carne.
The cat ate the meat.

Yo me subí a un árbol.
I climbed a tree.