I am embarrassed = Estoy embarazada???


When my 12 year-old brother came back from his first Spanish class, he said laughing:
“Un hombre pelado con el saco en la mano corre detrás de la buseta.”

While the meaning in Spanish is simple and innocent (“A bald man with the jacket in his hands runs after the bus”), in Portuguese it sounds really dirty: “A naked man with his balls in his hands runs after the pussy”.
Spanish and Portuguese may be very similar to each other, but a few misunderstandings can happen when we don´t pay attention to false friends. Some examples…

• If a Spanish person goes to visit friends in Brazil and says that the food is “exquisita” (in Spanish meaning ‘delicious’), the Brazilians might get upset. After all the meaning of “esquisita” in Portuguese is ‘weird’.

• In the classroom, if a Brazilian asks his Colombian classmate whether he can lend him a ‘borracha’ (in Portuguese, eraser/rubber), the Colombian will probably laugh, since a ‘borracha’ in Spanish means a drunken woman.

• When filling out your personal details at the start of a test in Spanish and asked for your “Apellido”, a Portuguese speaker could get confused because ‘Apellido’ in Spanish means ‘surname’, while ‘apelido’ in Portuguese means ‘nickname’.

• In Brazil we pronounce ‘RR’ as ‘H’. So if a Brazilian was talking to a friend from Venezuela and he said “Eu corri com a Maria ontem” (“I ran with Maria yesterday”), his Spanish speaking friend would probably think that he had had sexual relations with Maria, since ‘coger’ (or ‘cojer’ as a slang) is pronounced the same way as ‘correr’ in Portuguese, but means something totally different.

Test your knowledge and expand your Spanish and Portuguese vocabulary with these quizzes about false friends: Test 1 & Test 2

Ps. Regarding the title of the text, don´t forget that ‘embarazada’ in Spanish doesn’t mean ‘embarrassed’: it means pregnant!

You might also like: