22 Similar French And Spanish Words You Should Recognize

  • Lara Scott
    Written byLara Scott
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22 Similar French And Spanish Words You Should Recognize

Studying both Spanish and French simultaneously can be challenging.

You may learn one set of verbs and forget the equivalent verb in the counterpart language.

However, you have an advantage that you should consider: Did you know that there are many similar French and Spanish words?

It’s true - several similar-sounding words in French and Spanish have very similar spellings.

This fact means if you’ve forgotten a phrase in Spanish, you may find yourself remembering the word by thinking of its French counterpart. It’s a neat trick that works for certain words.

But which French and Spanish words are similar?

Find out below.

Why are French and Spanish so similar?

Since both French and Spanish have Latin origins and come from vulgar Latin, there are many cognates.

They are both Romance languages and have approximately 75% lexical similarity.

Similar words but different accents

If you didn’t notice the similarities between French and Spanish words, it’s probably because of the differences between accents.

Although they’re neighbouring countries, the French language has a very distinct accent, and there are various dialects in Spanish.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of similar French and Spanish words, as you will see.

Similar French and Spanish words to note down

Let’s now look at some important cognates.

The list contains verbs, adjectives, nouns, and types of food, so I’ve divided the list accordingly.

Similar verbs

Here are three examples of verbs that are similar, two of which are identical in their infinitive forms.

But beware, they have different conjugations in French and Spanish!

English wordSpanish wordFrench wordExplanation and meaning
To sleepDormirDormirThe French word for sleep is identical to the Spanish word. To say “to sleep” in its infinitive form, the verb you'll need is dormir. These similar French and Spanish words have their origins in the Latin word dormire, which means “to fall asleep”.
To comeVenirVenirIf you want to say “to come” in Spanish, use the infinitive verb venir. If you're going to say it in French, use the same infinitive verb venir. Their conjugations are also quite similar.
To go pastPassarPasserYou can see that the verbs for the infinitive phrase “to go past” are very similar French and Spanish words. They are conjugated similarly as well.

Similar nouns

The following list of nine nouns features many similar French and Spanish words, whose genders are mostly identical.

Many of these Spanish and French nouns are also identical to their Latin counterparts.

English wordSpanish wordFrench wordExplanation and meaning
WarGuerraGuerreAs you can see, the Spanish and French words for “war” are incredibly similar. There is one letter difference. However, speakers pronounce these words very differently. In Spanish, you pronounce the word guerra “ger-rah”. In French, speakers pronounce the word guerre as: “gheer”. Both of these nouns are feminine and use the la article.
HillColinaCollineIf you want to say “hill” in Spanish, you use the word colina, pronounced koh-li-na. In French, it's colline, pronounced kou-leen. Again, both nouns are feminine and use the la article to modify them.
BridgePuentePontThe word “bridge” translates to another similar French and Spanish word. In Spanish, “bridge” is puente, and in French, the word is ponte. Each of these nouns is masculine. Use el in Spanish or le in French to modify them.
EarOrejaOreilleThe similar French and Spanish words oreja and oreille mean “ear” in English.
SizeTallaTailleYou have two similar French and Spanish words to say “size” and refer to your clothing size. Talla is “size” in Spanish, and taille is “size” in French. Again, you'll notice that both words are feminine in French and Spanish.
TelevisionTelevisionTélévisionYou'll notice no spelling differences between French and English for this noun. The word “television” is practically identical in both languages. The only difference is the accent marks, yet speakers similarly pronounce these words. One bonus fact about these words is that you can shorten “television” to la télé in French and la tele in Spanish.
LoveAmorAmourIf you want to say “love” in Spanish, use the word amor. If you're going to say it in French, use amour. There's a minor difference between the spelling of these words and minor pronunciation differences. Both are masculine nouns in the singular form and originate in the Latin word amor. In French, amour is a feminine noun in the plural version.
TreeÁrbolArbreThese two words for “tree” are similar. They have their origins in the Latin word arbor. Both are masculine nouns and use the articles l' in French and el in Spanish. What you may find interesting is the fact that the French word arbre is identical to the Catalan word for tree, which is also l'arbre.
EarthTierraTerreTo say “Earth” in Spanish, use the word tierra. To say it in French, use terre. These two related French and Spanish words have their origins in the Latin word terra. They are both feminine, and you can modify them with the feminine article la in Spanish and French.

Similar food words

The six types of food and drinks listed below are more examples of Spanish and French words that you should take note of.

English wordSpanish wordFrench wordExplanation and meaning
RaspberryFrambuesaFramboiseThe word “raspberry” in Spanish is frambuesa, and its French counterpart is framboise. Both frambuesa and framboise are feminine nouns, and you can modify them using the feminine article la in French and Spanish.
MilkLecheLaitThese similar French and Spanish words both mean “milk”. They have their origins in the Latin noun lac. Whereas the Spanish word leche is feminine, the French word lait is masculine. Use the article la when modifying leche and le when modifying lait.
HamJamónJambonBoth jamón and jambon mean “ham” in English. Each word is masculine in French and Spanish, meaning you should modify them with the article el in Spanish and le in French
BreadPanPainThere are some similarities between the French and Spanish words for “bread”. Both are masculine, so use the article el when modifying the word pan and le when modifying pain. These words originate from the Latin word panis, which means “bread”.
ChickenPolloPouletTwo more similar French and Spanish words are pollo and poulet. Both these words are masculine and use the masculine articles el and le to modify them. Poulet and pollo have their origins in the Latin word pullus, which means “chicken”.
WineVinoVinBoth vino and vin mean “wine” in English. These French and Spanish words are both masculine. They originate from the Latin word vinum, meaning “wine” or “grape”.

Similar adjectives

See the table below and take note of the four French and Spanish adjectives that are similarly spelled and have identical meanings.

English wordSpanish wordFrench wordExplanation and meaning
BigGrandeGrandBoth grand and grande mean “big”. The main difference between these adjectives is their pronunciation. Spaniards pronounce each letter and syllable in the word grande, giving us ghran-deh, while grand is pronounced with one syllable, giving us ghraun.
SadTristeTristeYou may notice that these two adjectives are completely identical. There is a difference in pronunciation. Triste in Spanish is pronounced trist-eh and triste in French is pronounced treest. These words both mean “sad” in English.
ColdFríoFroidHere are two similar French and Spanish adjectives that speakers pronounced very differently. Both mean “cold” in English. In Spanish, you pronounce the word frío free-oh; in French, you pronounce froid this way: fouah. These words can be nouns as well, depending on the context. They are both masculine nouns, so use el frio in Spanish and le froid in French to say “the cold”.
SlowLentoLentLento and lent are two adjectives that mean “slow”. These words have their origins in the Latin word frīgidus, which means “cold”. The pronunciation of these words is different. You pronounce lento “len-toh”, whereas lent is pronounced luh.

Revise the similar French and Spanish words to recognise them instantly

It’s not easy to remember new French and Spanish vocabulary, but many French and Spanish cognates exist as their origins are Latin.

This fact means that there are many similar French and Spanish words, and knowing them can give you the upper hand when learning these two languages together.

Learn the words and watch your confidence grow as you study French and Spanish.


Which similar French and Spanish words have I missed?

Add them to the comments section below!

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek
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