If you speak English, then you already know Spanish
Well, kinda. At the very least, you have a huge head start, thanks to the two languages having a ton of shared vocab.
In fact, you can automatically use thousands of English words that you already know when speaking Spanish, if you understand a few simple rules to translate between the two.
Weirdly, this is something that isn’t taught in a lot of textbooks, but it’s like magic once you get the hang of it!
Words that end in -or
This one’s a freebie. Any word that ends in -or in English is the same in Spanish. Some examples are words like actor, director, editor, tutor, doctor, color, profesor, error, tractor, interior, exterior.
Note that profesor drops its second “s,” since the only double characters that appear in Spanish are “ll,” “rr,” and sometimes “cc.”
Words that end in -al
Many English words ending in -al can be translated into Spanish simply by doing… nothing! Here are a few examples: animal, criminal, canal, central, commercial, legal, local, musical, natural, personal, rural, social.
Words that end in -ble
Just like the two groups above, these words can be translated into Spanish with little-to-no-effort. Keep in mind, like we mentioned above, that any double “s” becomes a single one in Spanish (e.x. possible becomes posible).
Check out just a few of these words: posible, imposible, notable, flexible, visible, formidable, probable, honorable, noble, horrible, inevitable.
Words that end in -ent
All right, we’re starting to get more advanced here. Now (and stick with me here) we actually have to add an “e” to the end of the word to get the Spanish translation: presidente, accidente, cliente, inteligente, excelente, importante, diferente, conveniente, elefante.
Okay, two notes here:
Notice that the double-letter rule rears its head again here: inteligente, excelente, diferente
Note elefante. Yeah, there’s no “ph” in Spanish, so it changes to an “f.” I feel like we should do this in English too.
Words that end in -ist
Continuing with the craziness, we also get to use any words that end in -ist in our Spanish conversations, we just need to add an “a” to the end: novelista, artista, dentista, publicista, lista, idealista, economista.
Words that end in -ous
Similarly, we can swap out the -ous at the end of an English word for -oso, and we’re good to go! Here are a few examples: famoso, curioso, ambicioso, delicioso, fabuloso, misterioso, nervioso.
Words that end in -ic
Okay, this is the last group of words for this post: English words that end in -ic. To get the Spanish word, you simply add an “o” to the end of the English word: Atlántico, público, romántico, democrático, artístico, aristocrático, elástico, eléctrico, automático, fantástico, clásico.
Okay, so we clearly fibbed a bit when we said “all you need to do is add an ‘o’ to the end of the word.” With these words, a wild accent mark usually appears, and there’s no specific rule on where exactly to put it.
But hey, at least you can read and understand and use these words in conversation, even if you might not be able to correctly use the accent mark right away when writing them, right? We figured it was worth talking about just for that reason.
Go forth, language hero
If you’ve ever wondered “How do I learn Spanish vocab?” or “Is it hard to learn Spanish words?”, I think you know the answer now.
(If you don’t, we’ll give you a hint: it’s not as hard as you might think)
Sure, there are lots of long tricky words in Spanish that can sound like tongue-twisters to native English speakers, but you also get literally thousands of words to kick-start your Spanish journey—for free—because you already speak English!
Pretty cool, right? Now, go forth with these translation rules in hand and expand your vocab a hundred-fold.
Oh yeah, and be sure to share Forge with your friends. Our app is full of cool language lessons like this, along with powerful tools to help you learn faster and better.